The Trials of Toilet Training


Toilet training is difficult for both parent and child. Based on the research
of two psychologists, Nathan Azrin and Richard Foxx, the average child can be
fully trained in less than four hours. They began their training with mentally
handicapped adults and successfully taught 95% in three days. With the added
emphasis on language and verbal rehearsal they attempted to teach children and
were astounded at the results. Their methods eliminate the fear damaging the
child\'s psyche by making toilet training a pleasant experience. The child is
not simply toilet "trained", he is toilet "educated", that is, the complete
process from knowing it\'s time to emptying the pot and flushing the waste down,
all unsupervised. Any parent would agree, this is incredible. They use a
combination of the same principals used in Practical Applications of Psychology.
The overall objective is to teach the child to toilet himself with the
same independence as an adult without the need for reminders, continued praise,
or assistance. This method is rapid because of the variety of learning
techniques. Learning by imitation, learning by teaching, a partial
reinforcement schedule with rewards that increase the need and the negative
reinforcement of disapproval are all employed. Children learn best by imitation
and teaching with the aid of a hollow doll. The child gives the doll a drink
then is told the doll has to "peepee" and he must help her. After the child
assists in removing the doll\'s pants, the liquid is released. The child must
observe the flow of liquid. into the potty chair. The adult and the child then
praise the doll and the child then assists the doll in redressing and emptying
the pot in the standard toilet and flushes. Then the child is instructed to ask
is the doll is dry and feel her pants. If they are dry the doll gets a treat.
The child is then asked if he is dry; if he is, he can then eat the doll\'s treat.
After two or three drills, distract the child and cause and \'accident\' by
spilling some liquid on the doll\'s pants. When the child discovers the wetness,
use instructions and guidance to help the child correct the doll. First, let
the doll know he is displeased, "Big girls don\'t wet their pants." Second, the
child helps the doll practice again on the potty then back to the scene of the
accident. Since the pants will still be wet, this can be continued three times.
Then have the child feel his own pants, and if they are dry he is rewarded with
a drink. The child then assists the doll in changing her pants. The doll
demonstration trials are continued until the child understands all the steps;
usually less than an hour. When questioning the child, begin with an instruction,
"Go to the potty." After a few times, switch to "Do you have to potty?" to a
general statement, "Where do you potty?" to "Are your pants dry?" which is not a
reminder, but a dry pants inspection. To increase motivation, use all types of
rewards: Hugging, smiling, clapping, verbal praise, snacks, drinks and friends
or family members who care. Always tell the child why you are praising him. In
the beginning, show approval at the start of an act to encourage the next step
as done with shaping, then as he progresses show approval only for the
completion. Praise is further limited to dry pants inspections, since this is
the overall objective. Also, as you see the child needing less manual guidance,
stand further and further away. Resist the urge of further assisting the child.
When an accident does occur, spend a few seconds verbally displaying
disappointment,"No, your pants are wet, you have to practice some more."
Practice twice going to the pot from the scene of the accident and pulling down
pants at a quick pace, then raising them again. Practice another eight times
from different locations, so he will remember to rapidly use the bathroom, no
matter where he is. The next step is the inspection. Since he has not changed
yet, they are wet. Tell him again that you and his heros are disappointed.
Repeat ten times. Have the child take off the wet pants, put them in the
laundry, get a new pair, put them on and then clean up any leakage with a sponge.
Love your child, but disapprove of wetting. If the procedure does not work with
the child, continue where you left off the previous day. In any event, continue
dry pants inspections until