WHEN IS A CHILD READY TO START TOILET TRAINING ?
There is no set age at which toilet training should begin. The right time depends on your child's physical and psychological readiness. A child younger than 12 months has no control over bladder or bowel movements and little control for 6 months or so thereafter. Between 18 and 24 months, child can start to show signs of being ready, but a child may not be ready until 30 months or older.
Your child must be able to control the muscles that regulate the bowel and bladder to be toilet trained. Knowing how to get to the potty or toilet and then undress quickly also is important. In addition, your child must be emotionally ready. He or she needs to be willing and cooperative, not fighting or showing signs of fear. If your child protests vigorously, it is best to wait for a while.
Things that cause stress in the home may overwhelm the effort to learn this important new skill. Sometimes it is good idea to delay toilet training in the following situations.
- The family has just moved or will move in the near future.
- A new baby is expected in the next several weeks or has recently been born.
- There is a major illness, a recent death or some other family crisis.
However, if your child is progressing without problems, there is no need to stop toilet training. Try to avoid a power struggle over toilet training. Children at the toilet training age are becoming aware of their individuality. They look for ways to assert independence. Some children may demonstrate their power by holding back bowel movements.
Your best approach is to treat toilet training in a relaxed manner and to avoid becoming upset. Remember that no one can control when and where a child will urinate or have a bowel movement except the child. Your goal is to teach your child appropriate behavior that he or she can master as a part of growing up.
Look for any of the following signs that your child is ready to begin training:
- Your child remains dry at least 2 hours at a time during the day or is dry after naps.
- Bowel movements become regular and predictable.
- Facial expressions, posture, or words reveal that a bowel movement or urination is about to occur.
- Your child can follow simple verbal instructions.
- Your child can walk to and from the bathroom, undress, and then dress again.
- Your child seems uncomfortable with soiled diapers and wants to be changed.
- Your child asks to use the toilet or potty chair.
- Your child asks to wear grown-up underwear.
HOW TO TEACH YOUR CHILD TO USE THE TOILET
You should decide carefully what words you use to describe body parts,urine, and bowel movements. Remember that friends, neighbors,teachers, other caregivers also will hear these words. It is best to use proper terms that will not offend, confuse, or embarrass your child or others. Avoid using words like "dirty," "naughty," or "stinky" to describe waste products. These negative terms can make your child feel ashamed and self-conscious. Treat bowel movements and urination in a simple, matter-of fact manner.
Your child may be curious and may try to play with the feces. You can prevent this without making him or her feel offended or guilty. Simply say, "This is not something to be played with."
Once you have decided to begin to toilet train your child, you should select a potty chair. A potty chair is easier for a small child to use, because there is no problem getting on to it and a child's feet can reach the floor. Children are often interested in their family's bathroom activities. It is sometimes helpful to let children watch parents when they go to the bathroom. Seeing grown-ups use the toilet gives children a strong incentive to do the same.If possible,mothers should show the correct skills to their daughters, and fathers to their sons. Children can also learn these skills from older brothers and sisters, friends,and relatives.
Encourage your child to tell you when he or she is about to urinate or have a bowel movement. Your child will often tell you about a wet diaper or a bowel movement after the fact. This is the first step in recognizing these bodily functions.Praise your child for telling you, and suggest that "next time" he or she let you know in advance. Before having a bowel movement, your child may grunt or make other straining noises, squat, or stop playing for a movement. When pushing,his or her face may turn red. Explain to your child that these signs mean that a bowel movement is about to come, and it's time to try the toilet. It often takes longer for a child to recognize the need to urinate than the need to move bowels.
Some children do not gain complete bladder control for many months after they have learned to control bowel movements. Some children achieve bladder control first. Most, but not all boys Learn to urinate sitting down first, and then change to standing up. Remember that all children are different.
When your child expresses an interest in urinating or having a bowel movement, go over to the potty immediately.
Keep your child seated on the potty for only a few minutes at a time. Explain what you want to happen. Be cheerful and casual.
If he or she protests strongly, don't insist. Such resistance may mean that it is not the right time to start training.
It is often helpful to make trips to the "potty" a regular part of your child's daily routine, such as after meals or before naps. Remember that you can't control when your child will need to have a bowel movement or urinate.
Success at toilet training depends on teaching at a pace that suits your child. You must support your child's efforts.
Do not try to force quick results. Encourage your child with lots of hugs and praise when success occurs. When a mistake happens, you should treat it lightly and not get upset. Punishment and scolding will often make children feel bad and may prolong the process.
Teach your child proper hygiene habits. Demonstrate how to wipe carefully. (With girls, toilet tissue should be swabbed from front to back to prevent bringing germs from the rectum to vagina or bladder.) Make sure both boys and girls learn to wash hands thoroughly after getting off the potty.
Some children believe that their wastes are part of their bodies; seeing their stools flushed away may be frightening and hard for them to understand. Some also fear they will be sucked into the toilet if it is flushed while they are sitting on it. Parents should explain what body wastes are.To give your child a feeling of control, let him or her flush pieces of toilet paper. This will eliminate the fear of the sound of rushing water and the sight of things disappearing.
Once your child has repeated success, encourage the use of cotton or disposable training pants. This moment will be special. Your child will feel proud of this sign of trust and growing up. However, be prepared for "accidents". It may take weeks, perhaps months, before toilet training is completed. During this period, it is often helpful to continue a routine for sitting on the potty at specified times during the day.
If your child uses the potty successfully, it's an opportunity for praise and encouragement. If not, it's still good practice.
In the beginning, many children will have a bowel movement or will urinate right after being taken off the toilet.
It may take time for your child to learn how to relax the muscles that control the bowel and the bladder. If these "accidents" happen often, it may mean your child is not really ready for
training. Sometimes your child will ask for a diaper when a bowel movement is expected and stand in a special private place to defecate. Instead of considering this a failure, compliment your child for recognizing the bowel signals. Suggest that he or she have the bowel movement in the bathroom in the standing position, with the diaper on; then encourage sitting on the potty, while still wearing the diaper, and finally sitting on the potty without the diaper. Stool
Some children move their bowels two or three times a day. Others may go 2 or 3 days between movements. Soft, comfortable stools brought about by a well-balanced diet make training easier for both child and parent. Overzealous attempts to toilet train may result in long-term constipation or apparent diarrhea.
You should consult your pediatrician if there is a change in the nature of the bowel movements or if your child becomes uncomfortable. Don't use laxatives, suppositories, and enemas unless your pediatrician advises these for your child.
Most children will have achieved bowel control and daytime urine control by 3 or 4 years of age. Soiling or daytime wetting after this age should be discussed with your pediatrician.
After daytime dryness has been mastered, it may take months or years before the child achieves the same success at night. Most girls and more than 75 percent of boys will be able to stay dry at night by the age of five(5).
If your child continues to wet at night after age 5, you should talk with your pediatrician. Most of the time, your child will let you know when he or she is ready to move from the potty chair to the "big toilet". Make sure your child is tall enough, and practice the actual steps with him or her.