Help with Potty Training a 6-Year Old with down Syndrome

Updated on December 10, 2010
S.M. asks from Diamond Bar, CA
9 answers

Are there any mom's out there having a difficult time potty training their children with Down syndrome? My daughter is 6 years old and will not tell us that she needs to go. We ask her and put her on the potty and it is 50/50 chance if she goes or not. Any advice you provide will be helpful. Thank you.

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So What Happened?

Well I haven't been online in awhile since my work has been very busy. My baby girl (now 7) is finally potty trained!!! With a lot of help and perserverence and support from her teacher we got it to finally happen. The teacher had us bite the bullet and start using training pants and toss out the pull ups. There were a lot of frustrating days for us on the weekends because as luck would have it she would do great at school and have accidents with us :-/ She doesn't always tell us she needs to go except at restaurants. She has this fascination with the echo in public restrooms. Then there are times when she will go on her own! On occasion she will still have an accident. Thank you for your thoughts and suggestions.

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answers from Seattle on

I don't have a child with Downs either but I do have an aunt with Downs and my best friend's sister has Downs. I think that a reward system might work just as it might work with any child but I think it would have to be some kind of immediate reward otherwise I think they would probably forget about it. Like someone said about a chart with stickers and then a big reward at the end, that might not work because I don't know if a child with Down's would remember something like that and they might not be motivated enough by it. I think if you used a reward system that they got some kind of reward everytime they used the potty then it might create a form of habbit knowing they wanted that specific thing and knowing that if they used the potty that's the only way they would get it might help. Good luck with it!

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answers from San Francisco on

Hi Syliva,
I just came across this site for parents of children with special needs called Flourish Network. They have an article about potty training children with Down syndrome. Here is the link. (Hope it helps)

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answers from Seattle on

I would love to know what works for you. I have a soon to be three year old little boy with DS and would love to not be changing his diapers forever. He battles constipation and takes medication making some really lovely bm's and I would love those to end up in the toilet instead of all over his bedding. I find that after nearly every time he wakes up he has a huge bm and frequently needs to be hosed off in the shower which is torture for both of us. As I am writing this, I am thinking that maybe a social story for each of our children might work. Have you used social stories at all with your daughter. I have found that my son is really liking to use pictures to communicate and is liking to use schedules in therapy. I am going to start using social stories with him for events that are coming up so he can know what to expect. Maybe it would/will work for toileting too. Just a thought. Anyway, like I said I would love to know what you figure out.



answers from Portland on


Hey it's been a few months since your request and I wondered how things went? I know it takes longer sometimes to see things happen for kids with labels, but I thought I would check in. One bit of advice is to know that kids are never too old to learn, so if it takes a while, don't let it be the stress point of your life, right?

I worked at training a girl who had Downs and it took sitting and reading books with her and singing and stuff. I made such a big deal if she did it. If not, there's always next time to LOOK FORWARD TO. She was potty trained by 2 1/2. We used regular diapers too, you know the old fashion kind. If you can allow some time to work on it and use plastic covers, he might feel it. The disposable are great, but it hard sometimes to feel uncomfortable enough to want to have a diaper change or encourage the potty instead of the diaper.

Hang in there and let me know how things are going good or bad!

Take Care,



answers from Spokane on

I have a 6 year old boy with Downs. I used the reward system of giving him his favorite ice cream only when using the potty. If he had an "accident" I made him stay inside rather than going outside and playing, it took no time for him to learn that having an ice cream and going out to play was his choice. He has been potty trained for 3 years. He is the youngest of 7 children and everything is a competition and he wants to be just like his big brothers and sisters.
sincerely, Char



answers from Boise on

I am struggling with this issue with my 6 year old daughter. She was born with Down Syndrome and yes she is slower than other "normal" children but we have tried not to treat her any differently than we did with our other two children. I did, however when it came to beginning the process of potty training, try a different approach with her. I started trying the potty training after she turned 5 but that was a bust. I even went as far as to buy a potty chair that when the handle flushed it plays a tune. That did not even work for her. Now she is in kindergarten and the school is working with her as well. She has gone potty once since she was 5 in the big potty but she does not tell me that she has to go, only that she poo pooed in her diaper. I do not know what to do to help her. I know that she is not "normal" but I want her to be an independent person and her using the potty instead of a diaper I am sure will begin this process. If anyone has any ideas of how to go about potty training successfully with a child who was born with Down Syndrome at an older age please let me know as I am at a loss for words of how to proceed further.



answers from Portland on

I do daycare and I have found that this system that another mother told me about works great. We set a kitchen timer, starting out at around 30 min. When the timer goes off then its time to go potty. I have found that kids have problems wanting to stop what they are doing to go. This way they get used to stopping what they are doing and they have to go. We also keep a chart and at the end of the week they get to choose a wrapped present out of the box. I usually will wrap up small dolls, hot wheels cars, etc. They usually do really well with this system. And as they get better about going to the bathroom, I extend the time to 45 min then a hour and so on until they don't need it any longer. I used the system on a boy with autism and it worked wonders for him also. Good luck to you...



answers from San Diego on

I don't have a child with downs but. I know if you ask a doctor they have a divice that helps in sleeping threw the night and not pottying in the bed it has an alarm That will let the child know when there is moisture and they can go to the bathroom Not sure if this helps but it is an idea. -Krissy



answers from San Diego on

Will a reward system work?
I'm sorry, my son doesn't have Down Syndrome, but when I potty trained my oldest, we used a sticker chart. I made a chart of 10 squares to start with and everytime he went in the potty he got a sticker. When the chart was filled he got to have a Happy Meal. I steadily increased the number of squares on the chart each time.
I don't know if that will work for you or not, but it's a thought that may be able to help in some capacity.
Good luck

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