Advice for Au Pairs – How to Potty-Train a Toddler

shyboy behind skirtAll au pairs have had experience. That is one of the great requirements that give host parents peace of mind. Knowing the person who is caring for your child or children has had previous experience that is documented and verified is a great comfort. But, most au pairs don’t have children of their own. They provide care for other families’ kids. Each family approach toilet training in a different way. Here are a few tips for all au pairs.

Naturally, discuss the potty-training process with your host parents often. Keep them aware of successes and failures. Having a chart can be just as helpful to parents as it is children and their caregivers!

First, never force or insist the child start the toilet training process until certain natural signs occur. A child may be ready to begin training if they show some interest in others using the toilet. Some parents are very comfortable letting a child observe them use the toilet and others are not. Definitely discuss the family’s expectations in this area before making any assumptions about what is and is not acceptable behavior. Although au pairs are like family members, they are not and should keep the lines of privacy clear and separate.

Second, a child may be ready to begin the process if he or she begins to wake from naps or overnights with a dry diaper. This is a physical indication of readiness.

Third, a child may be ready to begin the toilet training process if he or she tells you their diaper is wet or soiled. Some children begin to dislike the sensation of wet or soiled diaper and this can greatly facilitate the process. Kids will often begin by telling you right after they have gone, but with some prompting and reminders, this can easily be shaped into behavior that occurs before the go!

When you begin the process, keep in mind every child is different and will proceed at their own pace, with everything in life, toilet training included! Always be positive, never scream or scold, and reward any success or even approximates at first. Encourage the child that being clean and dry is good and they will learn to be a big kid very soon, just like (fill in the blank with Mommy, Daddy, or an older family member’s name).

Don’t rush to put a child in underwear during the day. Give it a little time, perhaps with pull-up style diapers in between, while the child can also learn to help with clothing management (pulling up/down). I like to establish a few weeks of success with either urinating or bowel movements (kids vary in which they learn first) by taking the child to the toilet once every hour while they are awake, just to give them many opportunities for success. Never get upset if the child doesn’t void on command; just tell them you will try again a little later.

Be sure to keep the parents informed of how the child is doing and be available to help a little extra during this time, either with a helping hand in the bathroom, with those sometimes accidents, or with a little extra kiddo laundry.

However you do it, do it with love and patience and your host parents and the kids will love and thank you for it. Remember, as an Au Pair, you are there to love and guide in the same way the parents would want to do themselves.

For more information about Go Au Pair in the Providence, RI area, visit our Providence page at  or contact me directly at 401.309.1925 or Рmy name is Joan Lowell and I am the LAR (Local Area Rep) in the Providence, RI area.



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