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Unfortunately, potty training takes a lot of time and even more patience. I’m a firm believer that children will use the potty consistently when they are ready, but having a speech delay MAY make it more difficult for your child.

Children learning to use the bathroom also learn the vocabulary associated with potty training. If your toddler has a speech delay, they may not be able to tell you when they have to go or if they’ve already had an accident. 

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It’s important to realize that even though your child may not have the verbal means to tell you when they have to go to the bathroom, they may be giving you subtle non-verbal cues or gestures. It’s important to watch your child and see if they are doing anything consistent when they go to the bathroom. My daughter will do a “pee-pee” dance in a circle when she has to go (she still does this even though she’s been potty trained for 7 months). 

There are a couple tips that I’ll share with you to (hopefully) make potty training a little bit easier! These are more from a mother’s perspective, with some speech therapist tips thrown in!

7 Potty Training Tips for Late Talkers

1. Set a schedule

If you firmly believe your child is ready, then 45 minutes or so after they eat or drink, place them on the potty. Leave them there for 3 minutes and see if they go. If they do . . .

2. Praise them

Make a big deal out of the smallest trickle! Give high fives, tell them they are doing awesome, and show them what they did. Accidents do happen. Try not to be too hard on them. Tell them, calmly that they should go to the bathroom in the toilet, not in their pants. 

3. Rewards can go a long way

We used a sticker chart and skittles for my daughter. When she went to my mother-in-law’s house, she got M&Ms. It made her excited to know she was getting something different in each house.

4. Prepare yourself for the journey

Read some books on the subject and, if all else fails, GOOGLE. Make sure you have tons of underwear, a reward system in place, everyone in the house is on board, and be patient.

5. Make a little chart

If your child can’t tell you “pee” or “poo,” make a little chart. I’m talking one or two pictures; one of the toilet and one of the sink (wash hands). Make sure, when they go, you say “pee” or “poo” so they know what they did.

6. Take them with you, when you go

I know it might sound odd, but I always took Nora with me and, even though he’s a boy, Nicholas goes with me, too. I narrate EVERYTHING I do in the bathroom. I’ll say, Mommy went pee-pee, now mommy is wiping, mommy has to pull up her pants, etc. Don’t forget, it’s more than just the vocabulary words for potty that they need to know. How can you expect them to pull down their pants, if they don’t know what pants are?

7. Let them pick their underwear

Have your child pick out their own underwear. This makes them excited and signals that they are big kids now. 

As someone who just went through this process, it can be daunting. We tried to get our daughter on the toilet at two years old, but she had no idea when she had to go. We decided that she would let us know when she was ready and she totally did. I was only two months postpartum with my son when she suddenly said, “Mommy, I have to go to pee-pee.” I was like, “Well, I guess we are doing this.” 

Good luck and remember, none of us go to kindergarten in pull-ups! Your child will get it! 💪

In addition to these tips, you can download our Speech Blubs app and work on some of our fantastic communication-centered activities.

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The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not necessarily reflect the views of Blub Blub Inc. All content provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgement, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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  • What do I do if I have tried the “no underwear/pull ups/diaper method” and my son now knows how to work pull ups and puts them on even when I won’t put them on him. I will leave him pantless like my pediatrician and the books suggest and he puts them on.He has a speech delay because he is bilingual, and will not say he has to go potty but he can say pee-pee and poo-poo. I don’t know how to get him to verbalize he has to go, or that he even went in his pull up. I don’t know how to proceed to train him. Should I move the potty out of the bathroom? What can I do to make that connection?

    • Hi, Liz. Thank you for your question. First of all – how old is your son? Some children are simply not ready to train and by forcing them, we actually hinder their progress towards using the potty. The first thing I’d suggest is to set a timer for 30 minutes. Every time it goes off, you put him on the toilet. Praise him, even if he does not go! Sometimes, kids are afraid of the potty, so just sitting on it is an accomplishment. Secondly, if he cannot verbalize that he has to go, I would give him a simple chart with pictures that he can point to. Make sure you review this chart with him so that he knows how to use it. You can also use some sort of reinforcement when he goes. My daughter loved sticker charts and every time she went, she got 1 sticker. If she had a bowel movement, she got two stickers. Once she had so many stickers, she got a special prize. When the stickers got old, we gave her skittles. Those are a few things that you can try and see if it helps with his training!

      Stacie Bennett, M.S. CCC-SLP

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