Children love role play and it can be a very important way for them to learn lots of skills including potty training. The benefits of using play, and role play in particular, are that it can get the child motivated to get started and can help build and consolidate learning both before and during potty training.
Hospital Play Specialist Charlotte Hamflett advises:
‘Before potty training commences, introduce the concept of using the potty/ toilet, or wearing pants through role play and books. Revisit the play and books throughout the potty training to reinforce concepts and behaviours, and to help the child to process and express their thoughts and feelings.’
There are a couple of ways you can introduce potty training through role play. Initially you and your child may want to pretend to potty train dolls or teddies. This could involve teaching the dolls/teddies the potty training routine from finding the bathroom to washing hands.
To make it more fun for the child, you could also get them to talk you through the potty training routine. This role reversal can give children confidence and helps foster learning so it’s a great way to start.
Role play also gives you a chance to practise the language used around potty training. Try to keep language consistent and keep repeating the same phrases. Ensure that children know what to say when they need to go to the toilet, and how to ask for help. This is important for when they go to nursery or when they are out and about.
Some children are scared of the bathroom and the noises/smells there and getting them to help their dolls/teddies in this situation can be a good way to get over the fear. You can encourage the child to keep taking the teddies to the bathroom and ask them to reassure the teddies that everything is ok. This positive talk then rubs off onto your toddler.
For more details on establishing a good potty training routine, see our blog, and to receive all our potty training advice direct to your inbox, join our potty training academy.