Expert Articles

Using Drama as an Education Tool to guide children through toilet training

Author:  Miss Yannie Yan Yi SO
Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, Tung Wah College

Self-care skills are important for infants and young children, and toilet training is a crucial aspect of their development and learning. To ensure smooth toilet training, the attitude and strategies of parents and caregivers are essential. Parents can also make use of drama techniques to assist children in learning to use the toilet.

Parental support and encouragement
Patiently accompany and timely affirm

Toilet training is not a process that can be accomplished in a day or two. Different children require different amounts of time, usually ranging from a few weeks to a month, although some children may need even longer. Throughout the process, parents or caregivers must be patient and maintain a positive attitude, even if the child has accidents and wets their clothes or the surrounding objects. It is important not to blame them, as unnecessary pressure can be detrimental. Caregivers should make the child feel supported and encouraged during their learning journey. When the child is willing to try and shows progress, it is crucial to provide affirmation. In addition to verbally praising the child for their appropriate behaviour, visual rewards can also be used, such as a thumbs-up gesture, clapping hands, or stickers placed on a prepared toilet training record sheet, allowing the child to see their efforts and progress.

Effective communication with caregivers

Many families in Hong Kong with young children hire domestic helpers or rely on grandparents to assist in child care. Dual-working parents need to communicate clearly with caregivers to ensure consistent strategies and attitudes towards assisting the child in toilet training and to avoid confusion for the child.

Respecting the child's willingness and accepting different paces

Sometimes, parents may feel anxious when they see other children of similar age successfully toilet trained and may want to expedite the process for their own child. However, each child has their own pace of growth and developmental needs. There is no need to compare children from other families. If parents become impatient, the child will also sense the pressure. If the child is not ready, they may perceive themselves as not doing well enough, which can affect their emotions and confidence. Therefore, parents should carefully observe the child’s psychological and physiological development to identify the most suitable timing for toilet training.

Utilizing elements of drama education
Using puppets to explain and demonstrate the process

When preparing for toilet training, parents can choose a suitable time, such as after the child’s nap or snack time, to tell a story using puppets. The suggested procedure is as follows:

  1. Materials needed: Mom puppet, boy or girl puppet, prop toilet (can be created by attaching toilet illustrations to household items).
  2. Introduce the puppets and interact with the child, using the puppets to warm up.
  3. Pick up the mom puppet and say, “Child, you are growing up, and it’s time to learn how to use the toilet.” The child puppet nods and agrees to try.
  4. The mom puppet explains each step, and the child puppet tries to imitate the actions while the child observes.
  5. After the child puppet completes each step, the parent can provide descriptions or ask the child to verbalize the actions, such as “sitting on the toilet” or “taking off pants.”
  6. Once the child puppet finishes, the child can encourage it.
"Mom gets into character" and empowers the child

In drama classes, teachers often use the “teacher-in-role” technique to engage students in dramatic learning. Caregivers can also adopt this approach by taking on the role of the puppet, pretending to be someone who doesn’t know or has forgotten how to use the toilet, and then asking the child to explain and demonstrate. This empowers the child and builds their confidence. The suggested procedure is as follows:

  1. The caregiver takes out the puppet and assumes the role, using the puppet’s voice to express that they have forgotten how to use the toilet.
  2. In character as the puppet, the caregiver asks the child for advice and questions them about the methods or procedures of using the toilet. For example:
    • “I need to pee, but I forgot if I should go to the bedroom or the toilet. Can you tell me?”
    • “Mom said I needed to take off some clothes before peeing. Can you help me figure out what it is? (pretending to think) Is it socks or pants?”
    • “What do I need to do when I need to pee?”
    • “After peeing, I want to quickly go play with toys. Can I skip washing my hands?”
  3.  After the child responds to the puppet, the caregiver, still in the puppet role, can inform the child that they are still unsure about what to do and ask the child to take the puppet to the bathroom and demonstrate for it.
  4. Once completed, the caregiver expresses gratitude to the child on behalf of the puppet.
  5. Lastly, parents should praise the child for being helpful and also demonstrate the steps of using the toilet.


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Using Drama as an Education Tool to guide children through toilet training