Getting Older Siblings Involved in Potty Training

Potty training can become easier if older siblings get involved.

All parents remember the first word their child said, and the first step he or she took. When children reach these baby and toddler milestones, it’s hard not to become excited and emotional. But there’s one of these events during toddler development that holds an extra special place in a parent’s heart: the first time a child uses the potty successfully. This signals the beginning of the end for changing diapers, which makes it a very exciting time indeed.

However, potty training isn’t always easy (in fact, it’s almost never a piece of cake). One thing that can help if you’re having potty-training struggles with your toddler? Getting older siblings involved! Here’s how:

Have siblings be the teacher

If you have a toddler and older kids, you’ve likely already noticed the effect older siblings can have on younger ones. An older brother or sister makes everything he or she is doing seem inherently “cool.” This leads to the mentality: “If my brother/sister is doing that, I want to do it too!” Use this sibling dynamic to your advantage by having the older brother or sister be a potty mentor. He or she can show your toddler how to go to the bathroom and help as the toddler tries.

This has a couple of benefits: Your toddler looks up to his or her older siblings, so he or she will want to impress him or her or prove that he or she can do it, too. Also, children are sometimes afraid of toilets – the seat can seem unstable and the flush can be a little scary. Seeing an older brother or sister go to the bathroom can help alleviate this fear.

Toilet in lime green bathroom.
Toilets can seem a little scary to toddlers.

Have the whole family show support

If your older kids don’t want to take on a teaching role, that’s OK. It can be very helpful if they show support and help you encourage their younger siblings, though. When possible, have your older kids in the room or waiting outside it to cheer on the toddler – and if you’re giving the toddler a treat for getting it right, give the older kids a treat as well. This is a good way to show your appreciation for their involvement and alleviate any jealousy they may be feeling about the attention their sibling is receiving.

On regressing after the birth of a new sibling

Speaking of jealousy, if your toddler is going through potty training around the same time you have a new baby, this could very well affect your child’s relationship with the bathroom (in fact, a new baby can affect almost any aspect of your child’s life). It’s common for children to regress in the potty training area when a new sibling comes home. If this happens, it’s important not to punish or become frustrated with your toddler – instead, show him or her extra support, encouragement, attention and love.

Remember that, as with anything, successful potty training usually involves coming up with some kind of routine – if you can get your older kids to be involved in that routine, it may make the whole process a little easier and a lot more fun for the toddler!