How siblings can help during potty training

Siblings helping Siblings!

By guest blogger Rhian Harris, From Tum to Mum


I recently wrote about how a new baby can affect your child’s toileting habits.


After looking into it a little bit, it seems quite common that a new arrival, or other significant change in the home environment, can be unsettling for a young child in ways that you perhaps might not have expected.


You often find that an already potty trained child may start having accidents at home or nursery.  Or just plain not play ball when it comes to using the potty or toilet.

In our case, it seems to be a cry for attention as there’s suddenly lots of talk of ‘the new baby’.  This type of potty training regression is completely normal. The good news is that it’s also pretty straightforward to resolve too (phew).


But did you know that siblings could also actually have magical powers during potty training?


Getting older siblings involved


A big tool in potty training a child is to use idols to encourage their motivation to ditch the nappy.


An older sibling can provide the role model that a younger child can aspire to be like.


They provide a role model of what it’s like to be a ‘big’ boy/girl.  Also, they can be useful in the actual process of doing the deed, too.


I’m not suggesting that you leave it up to your eldest to handle the potty training process, but rather, encourage a younger child to copy their lead.


Get them both involved in choosing things like knickers or pants.  Ask things like ‘do you want some like your big brother/sister’?


Or allow them to participate in the same kind of activities.  Explain that now they are using a toilet ‘they are a big girl/boy’ and can do more grown up things together.


You’ll be surprised how much wanting to be the same can incentivise the process!


Younger siblings in potty training


Potty training when you have a new baby in the house may seem like a step too far.   It can actually work in your favour once you are settled into a new routine.


If you have a younger one at home, use them to help demonstrate the difference between babies and ‘big’ girls or boys.


If you think they are ready to potty train, highlight to your older child that their younger brother needs to wear a nappy because they are not as grown up.


Make sure you praise your child for any achievements.  Although it may make you feel a bit of a wally at times, tell the younger baby what their big bother/sister has done. Say things like, “when you are grown up like [name], you’ll be able to use a big boy/girl potty too”.


Reward your older child with more grown up treats (that a baby couldn’t have) to sustain their ongoing motivation. This will keep it fun for them.  It will also help to combat any feelings that they don’t get as much attention now that you have to split your time between more children.


No siblings in the house?


Don’t fret! If there are no other siblings, potty-trained cousins, friends, or peers in childcare settings can also be used as examples.


In fact, my nephew suddenly took an interest in my daughter.  He realised she didn’t wear nappies anymore and therefore wasn’t a ‘baby’. They are now thick as thieves at family gatherings  She loves to be able to play with him more now that he thinks she’s a big girl.




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