Toilet training is the bane of every parent's life; weeks of being caught short, happy (and not so happy) accidents in awkward places, and endless loads of washing.
Some children (and parents) are lucky and manage to master the technique in a matter of days, but for the rest of us patience is key.
Most children do not develop control over their bowel and bladder until they start nursery school. There is little point in trying to teach a child to use the toilet if they don't realise they actually need!
If your child is not yet fully toilet trained then speak to your Health Visitor or GP, remember it is not uncommon for children to still have accidents at night at this stage.
Independent toileting is a very complex task with lots of complex steps. By 3 years your child may be able to use the toilet during the day with few accidents, but still need help with wiping and managing their clothes.
It is important your child feels secure when they are sitting on the toilet. Using a toilet step or a sturdy box under their feet will make them feel safer and therefore concentrate on the task at hand. A toilet seat insert may also help your child feel safer.
Practice and Patience; as with all new skills this task will take time to learn so don’t expect your child to master it straight away. Break the task down into its separate parts (e.g. managing clothes, wiping or washing hands etc) and only tackle one part at a time with you offering support with other aspects of the task.
As with any new challenge, the use of a reward chart can be very motivating for a child. You can set a goal at the beginning of the week or fortnight around what your child is to complete (e.g. final wipe without physical assistance); if they achieve success with this they receive a sticker for their chart which can be used for a reward at the end of the set time period.
Ask nursery for their advice as they have a large amount of knowledge and experience in this area.
Completed toilet training is when a child can get on and off the toilet, manage their clothes, wipe their bottom, flush the toilet and wash their hands without any adult help or supervision.
However, with this ultimate goal in mind a lot of hard work, patience and practice will be needed to achieve and master each step of the process, by you and your child together.
ERIC (The Children's Bowel and Bladder Charity) have lots of useful resources around toileting for Parents and Carers as well as Education and Health Professionals.
Anxiety UK have produced a document called Toilet Phobia: Breaking the Silence, which states the causes of toilet fear are often caused by anxiety, fear, specific experience/trauma or learnt behaviour from someone close.