Distributed Toilet Training


Before beginning schedule training, ensure that your child is ready for potty training. Your child should have some bowel control, indicated by extended periods of dryness and should be willing to sit on the toilet. Distributed Practice is most often used with children with disabilities. It involves taking the child to the restroom at times of the EBIP_toilet training_8day that the child is most likely to be wet.

Your child may remain in diapers for the duration of this training. Before beginning,you will take data on your child’s potty behavior. Every 30 minutes, check to see if the child is wet or dry and record on your data sheet. Also keep track of the child’s food and drink intake. Do this for one week and analyze the pattern. If the child’s data are variable, consider delaying toilet training or using the intensive method. If the child appears to have a pattern, indicate two times on the schedule that the child is consistently wet. These will be your target times for potty sits.

Before beginning, you should collect the following materials:
Data collection sheet
Child’s Reinforcers (determined from PA)

 Now you and your child are ready to begin.

1. Take the child to restroom 10 minutes before the target time and have the child sit on the potty for 5 min.

2. If the child urinates, provide praise and reinforcement. Ensure the reinforcement is of high quality and only available for potty successes. If it is a food item, allow the child to consume it. If it is a toy or object, allow the child to engage with it for 2 minutes.

3. If the child does not urinate, make sure the child remains on the toilet until the sit time is over.

  • If necessary, provide gentle pressure on the shoulders and hold the child under the arms to ensure the child sits.
  • You can remind them, “When you go pee on the potty, you can get off!”
  • After the sit time, allow the child to get off and try the sit again in 5 min.

4. Bring the child to the restroom at the next sit time and repeat the previous steps.

5. When successes occur during 50% of schedule trips, add a 3rd sit time to your schedule

6. If the child is consistently successful and has no accidents between trips, you do not need to add a fourth time. If a consistent wet diaper occurs at a fourth time, add that time and follow the same procedures.

EBIP_toilet training_6Training is complete when the child consistently initiates to the toilet when he or she needs to go. If this doesn’t happen after several weeks of consistent prompted successes, begin to increase the time between scheduled trips so the child has the opportunity to initiate. For children with impaired language, you can also teach initiations by practicing communication during prompted trips. For example, you can prompt a child to take a picture from a picture communication book that represents toileting and take it to an adult who can allow access to the toilet. For this to be successful, a child will need to have consistent access to the picture so that he or she can tell you when they need to go in many different situations. You can switch to underwear when a child is consistently successful with one or fewer accidents per day. This practice has been successful using children with and without disabilities. It is typically faster that schedule training but will still take several weeks.

Data sheets:
Distributed Practice: Data Sheet

To cite this page (APA 6th edition):

  • Harbin, E.R., Ledford, J.R., & Chazin, K.T. (2016). Distributed toilet training. In Evidence-based instructional practices for young children with autism and other disabilities. Retrieved from http://ebip.vkcsites.org/distributed-toilet-training