So my 22 month old boy has been showing a lot of signs for potty training. He kept his diaper dry for a whole week at night. He can go 3 to 5 hours at school without a wet diaper, and he constainly would take his diaper off around the house if he peed in it. So last weekend we had a long weekend and decided to start the potty training process. I heard that going completely naked the first day and constantly bring him to the potty and showing him is the best method so that is what we did. He had many accidents on the floor and went about 11 times in the toilet. But day 2 and 3 were better. By day 2 at night we added in him wearing underwear and pull up for night and nap. Then the 4th day he goes to school. He refused to use the toilet at school and acts as if he is afraid of it. He only has about 2 accidents at school a day which isn't bad. But how do I get him to actually tell me when he needs to go, and not me or the teacher having to take him to the bathroom every 45 minutes to an hour? Teacher thinks I need to do pull ups first and then underwear do you think I progressed him to fast to underwear, I just think pull ups prolong the process? Because he isn't communicating yet how can I teach him to tell us he needs to go?

Also because he doesn't go at school when we get home it takes about 1 hr to 2 hrs before he will actually go on the toilet at home but then he is great for the rest of the night. Just looking for some suggestions. Thank you!

  • He's over halfway there already. Does he sign?
    – pojo-guy
    Feb 23, 2018 at 15:39
  • 4
    Can you clarify what you mean by "non-verbal"? For a typically-developing 22mo, some language would be expected; certainly not fluency, but at least some consistent words or signs. If he's not communicating with you at all yet, you may want to consult with his pediatrician about speech language therapy or other ways to support his communicative development. Feb 23, 2018 at 21:20

2 Answers 2


First, I would find out why the child is nonverbal at 22 months. He needs to have his hearing tested, and if that's fine, he should be referred to a speech therapist, as Rose Hartman commented. There are many toddlers with language delays who do fine, but hearing problems absolutely need to be ruled out as a potential cause. Even children who appear to hear well (will turn when called, like music etc.) can have a partial hearing loss.

In the meantime, I would start teaching the child basic American Sign Language. It's easy, and children use it at an earlier age to communicate than spoken language. I have an almost-pre-verbal grandaughter - she says two words consistently: dada and doooo (dog) - who can sign: hungry, all done, more, milk, juice and a few other words (please and thank you as well, but I doubt she knows what those mean.)

If you can start signing "bathroom" every time you walk in, he'll catch on. That's the first step in getting him to tell you when he needs to go, and you can sign "bathroom" with a questioning look, to which he can nod yes or no.

Another personal story: I taught my kids some basic sign language because I wanted to be able to remind them of their manners without embarrassing them. (I didn't like hearing an adult tell their child, "Look at them when they're talking to you", etc. So sign language. One day, after soccer practice, my six year old starts to leave without thanking the (volunteer) coach. So I quickly sign, "Turn around, look at him, say thank you, and use his name." (Usually I didn't have to say quite that much, but...) So my little one does as told. The coach looked at me with a look of absolute horror on his face. "OMG," he says, "he's deaf?!? I've been yelling instructions at him all morning!"

  • 2
    The "bathroom" sign continues to be useful with hearing and speaking children...it's nice to be able to ask a kid if they need to go/tell them to take a break to go discreetly, or for a kid to tell you "I'm going to the bathroom" without saying so in front of everyone.
    – swbarnes2
    Feb 27, 2018 at 17:26

Just give your child plenty of encouragement. Say to him "Want to go to the toilet?" and then take him. The repetition will teach him the phrase. Eventually he will learn how to say enough of the phrase for him to be able to let you know.

If he is non-verbal, and he isn't deaf, you can combine saying the phrase with giving Makaton for toilet. There are plenty of resources (pictures and YouTube videos) etc. on the internet to learn the signs.

Very young children pick Makaton up more quickly than verbal communication and then drop the Makaton as they become verbal or develop full sign language (ASL or BSL) if they are deaf.

  • Why Makaton? I live in the northern Mid-Atlantic region, and the nearest "Beginner's Course" is 4800+ miles away in Glasgow, and it's only 80 pounds. ASL is free. Feb 26, 2018 at 18:50
  • You don't need a course in Makaton. You can learn enough through website articles and YouTube videos like the one I linked in the question. Makaton is an easier form of sign language than BSL or ASL which is ideal for the purpose. Feb 26, 2018 at 18:54
  • Thanks for the link. Looking up "Makathon", I saw nothing for free. If you hadn't linked, I still wouldn't know the sign. I don't know if it's easier (the video you linked to does not state that; the point she made is that it makes a noise as well.) I never heard of it before today. (I'll do some reading.) In any case, we're in agreement that sign language works, even if it's made up, as long as it's consistent. (Not comparing dogs to humans, but I have always signed to my dogs. I can work them in a large field without saying a word. Now that one of them is deaf, I'm glad I did.) Feb 26, 2018 at 19:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .