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How to Potty Train a Deaf Child

by Cara Batema, studioD

Just because a child is hearing impaired does not mean he will potty train later; some children start around age 18 months, while others potty train between the ages of 2 and 4 years. When your child makes faces or noises, moves in a funny way, does not like to wear a dirty diaper, or seems interested in the bathroom or when you use the toilet, he is signaling you that he is ready to potty train. Training a deaf child is similar to the process for any child, but you will have to find other ways of communicating besides talking.

Purchase a potty chair appropriate for your child’s age and size. Place it in a room where he plays often, so he has a chance to explore the potty chair; this process will help him avoid playing with it while he is potty training.

Read picture books to your child that show children using the bathroom. Point to various objects or events and practice the sign language for those things. Useful signs include “wet,” “dry,” “pee,” “poop,” “potty” or “need to go.” If your child is able to use these signs comfortably to communicate, he is likely ready for potty training.

Show your child how to use the potty and let him observe when you use the toilet; demonstrate every aspect of the process, from taking your underwear off, toileting, wiping, pulling up your clothes and washing your hands. Since your child might not understand you if you just speak, he will appreciate the visual representation of the process. Use signs as you did with the picture book to encourage communication with your child.

Use the signs for “wet” with a sad face when you change your child’s diaper or “dry” with a happy face if his diaper is clean. Use signs like “need to go” after lunch or after waking from a nap and have your child sit on the potty chair.

Utilize periods throughout the day when your child does not have any diaper or underwear on, so he is naked below the waist. This trick will help him realize and indicate when he needs to use the potty. When he uses the signs to say he needs to go, hurry to the potty chair and help him through each step of using the toilet. He will eventually begin to realize himself even while wearing underwear when he needs to go and will bring himself to the toilet.

Use a sticker chart or lots of hugs when your child successfully uses his potty chair; this encouragement is visual and gives your child the positive reinforcement he needs.

Items you will need
  •  Potty chair
  •  Picture books about potty training


  • Have cleaning cloths and extra diapers ready in case of accidents. Don’t show frustration during accidents but rather encourage your child to use signs to indicate when he needs to go.

About the Author

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images