Toilet Learning Struggles in Older Kids Who Are Avoidant

parenting sensory tips
small boy hanging up towel in bathroom

Toilet learning can be a challenging journey, especially for older children who exhibit avoidant behaviours. This blog explores strategies and insights to support parents and caregivers in navigating toilet learning with patience and understanding.


Understanding Avoidant Behaviours


Avoidant behaviours during toilet learning may stem from sensory sensitivities, anxiety, or previous negative experiences. Recognizing the root cause is crucial for addressing these challenges effectively.


Creating a Positive and Supportive Environment


Encourage a Routine: Establish a consistent toilet routine to create predictability and comfort.

Modify the Environment: Ensure the bathroom is sensory-friendly with comfortable lighting, minimal noise, and familiar objects.


Addressing Sensory Sensitivities


Sensory-Friendly Supplies: Use toilet seats and paper that are comfortable to the touch.

Gradual Exposure: Slowly introduce the child to the bathroom environment to reduce anxiety.


Behavioural and Communication Strategies


Positive Reinforcement: Use praise and rewards to encourage progress.

Clear and Calm Communication: Communicate expectations and procedures in a clear, calm manner and use visual prompts to help make what is expected even clearer..


Collaborating with Professionals


Seek advice from healthcare professionals, such as occupational therapists, who can provide tailored strategies and support.


Patience and Understanding


Respect the Child’s Pace: Every child is different. Be patient and understanding of their individual journey.

Avoid Pressure: Putting pressure on the child can increase anxiety and resistance.


Diet, Medication and other Factors


There are other factors such as the effect of what the individual eats or the medication they are on that can affect their ability to toilet also.



Toilet learning in older kids who are avoidant requires a compassionate and tailored approach. Through understanding, patience, and the right strategies, parents and caregivers can successfully guide their children through this important developmental milestone.


Schedule a Zoom Consultation


For personalised guidance on toilet learning struggles, book a free 15-minute Zoom consultation with Anne Laure Jackson, an experienced sensory integration specialist. Click here to schedule your call.


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