Potty Training Tips for Children With Down Syndrome

By Angeliki Coconi
Make an extra effort to celebrate successes, even small ones.
Make an extra effort to celebrate successes, even small ones.

Potty training, the process during which a child learns to control her bladder and bowel movement as well as use the toilet, represents a delicate stage in every child's life, let alone a child with Down syndrome. Children with Down syndrome need a solid example of what they are being asked to do, according to Kent Moreno, behavior analyst of the West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall University.

Determine the Right Time

According to Donna Heerensperger RN, BScN, clinical resource nurse at the Developmental Services of Alberta Children's Hospital, parents should choose the time to begin potty training carefully. It is advised that things in the child's life are calm and no big changes are taking place. If it is a stressful or busy time for you, it is advised to postpone training until things are back to normal. When the time is right, make an effort to discuss your potty training plan with the staff of the daycare program that your little one may be involved in. It is recommended that you work together during the training so that the guidance your young one receives remains consistent.

Make a Solid Schedule

According to Moreno, parents and daycare providers are advised to devote a specific amount of time each day to bringing the child to the bathroom. As a result of the child's learning difficulty, acquiring full control and grasping the concept of this task may be difficult for her. This is why a consistent and repeated example, as well as solidly instructing her on the best way to use the potty, may significantly assist her in understanding what she is expected to do. Make a sound schedule which helps you keep track of the bathroom visits as well as the results of each time. Aim to give your child the opportunity to use the toilet every 30 minutes.

Be Positive and Encouraging

Although the process can often take longer than you originally anticipated and accidents may delay completion, it is still essential that you refrain from showing your frustration but keep encouraging your little one. According to HealthyChildren.org, potty training is more challenging for children with special needs and for this reason parents should avoid focusing on the child's mistakes, but rather, celebrate progress and successes, even minor ones. This can make a big difference in the child's self-esteem as well as allow her to become more independent.

Make it Fun

The most effective way for a child with Down syndrome to learn is by having fun. According to Karen Summar, MD, MS, director of the Down Syndrome Clinic at Children's National Medical Center, as quoted in an article published by the National Down Syndrome Society, incorporating toys when training your child can make the process a lot easier on her. Allow her to read a book and play with her toys while sitting on the potty or reinforce your instructions through the use of visual aids such as picture books or gestures. This can help your little one understand better what she needs to do, while ridding her of stress.

About the Author

Angeliki Coconi started writing in 1999 with the theater comedy "Loop," produced in Athens. In 2001 she wrote and produced another comedy, "Modern Cinderella." In 2006 she was awarded a Master of Science in literature from the University of Edinburgh. In 2009 Coconi obtained the Postgraduate Certificate in Screenwriting from Napier University of Edinburgh.