4 ways dressing choices can set your child up for toileting success.

Dressing and toileting are two activities that go hand-in-hand because in order to achieve independence in toileting as a whole, you need to be sufficient in both skills individually.




Dressing and toileting share many fundamental skills and are intertwined because total independence in toileting requires independent dressing skills. Many children who have difficulty with fine or gross motor skills, sensory processing skills, attention, or other processing and planning skills may have difficulty with both toileting independence and dressing independence.


If your child is having difficulty with toileting and with dressing one thing you can do to support their achievement is to reduce the demand of dressing so that they can focus on learning toileting skills. You can reduce the demands of dressing skills by adapting clothing or making clothing choices that meet your child’s current skill level and ability.


To make the best choice of clothing, consider which aspect of dressing is a challenge for your child. For example: Is the challenge using fine motor skills to manipulate snaps or buttons? Do they have trouble with motor planning in order to figure out which piece of clothing needs to move first and how their body has to move to manipulate their clothing? Maybe it's a gross motor issue, it takes them too long to pull up or down their pants increasing the likelihood that they won't make it to the toilet on time.


Another important aspect that can impact dressing is sensory sensitivities that many children experience with clothing. Bumpy socks, scratchy clothing, itchy tags; these are all examples of sensory sensitivity one might experience with dressing and it can create a distracting and annoying experience for your child.


Whatever the issue may be, choosing easy, comfortable and accessible clothing for your child will help them focus on other tasks that are more pressing; such as using the toilet comfortably and independently.


Here are 4 ways to dress your child for success on the potty.


  1. Leave the bells and whistles behind. Frills, bulk, and embellishments can get in the way of toileting because they often have to be moved to the side in order for your child to have a clear shot at the toilet. Opt for more simple clothing such as a simple t-shirt or long sleeved T that doesn’t require manipulation. For bottoms, avoid buttons, zippers, snaps, or frilly skirts (As cute as they are!) which may delay your child when they are trying to make it to the bathroom on time.

  2. Manageability. Overalls, jumpsuits, and hard to manage dresses should be saved for a later date or a time when your child can receive extra help from you (i.e home on the weekends). A well fitting two piece outfit will give your child the most freedom of movement without tricky motor planning to remove.

  3. Keep it loose (but not too loose!) Pants should be easy to pull down below the knees and simple to pull up and move back in place - but not TOO loose! Your child should be able to run and play without tugging at their pants or having to pull them up because they’re afraid they might fall down.

  4. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Some children have specific preferences about the types of clothing they are comfortable with. Respect these preferences as much as possible as long as they are safe, weather appropriate, and activity appropriate.


Remember - all children are different and have different needs. If your child struggles with independence in dressing and toileting, decreasing the dressing demands may help them focus on learning the skills needed for toileting.


If you need more information about how to support your child with toileting download my free toileting support guide here.



Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and does not replace medical or therapeutic advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your or your child’s health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or affiliated social media pages.








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