Toilet training is an important and necessary social skill. Parents play an important role in the process of toilet training. However, it requires parents to be patient and understanding as it is usually a time consuming task.

When to start?

There is no fixed age at which toilet training should be started. It depends on each child’s physical development and understanding of their own bodily functions. The important thing is to be relaxed about it. If your child resists or fights back, it is best to wait and try again at a later date as the child’s readiness is of utmost importance.

Usually child shows signs of readiness from 18-24 months of age, however some children may not be ready till 30 months of age. This does not indicate any abnormality!!

Some of these signs may help suggest that your child is ready….

  • Your child stays dry for more than 2 hours in the day or during daytime naps
  • Bowel movements become predictable
  • Body movements,postures or sounds associated with passing urine/stools-child may stop the activity or remain silent for sometime during play
  • Does not like to remain in soiled diapers
  • Pulls on underclothes after passing
  • Can walk to and from bathroom and help to undress
  • Can follow simple instructions

It is preferred not to initiate toilet training if the family is going through a major change like changing a house, arrival of a baby or death. However if the child seems to be doing well then there is no need to stop the practice.

The process of training:

It is important to be as encouraging as possible during the process as your child is learning a new task. Explain to the child in simple language what is expected and to indicate when he/she is about to urinate or have a bowel movement. Most times, your child may tell you after the act. Praise them for telling you and encourage them to tell you in advance next time. Some children grunt, squat or turn red in the face when they strain. You can explain to them that these signs indicate a bowel activity so that they can understand their bodily functions better. Try not to use words like “dirty” or “stinky” in relation to urine or stools as it may make the child feel ashamed or self conscious.

You may use a potty chair when your child is ready. This is easier for a smaller child as they can get on it easily and their feet can reach the ground. Alternatively, a seat may be attached to the toilet where an adult will have to help the child balance or the fear of falling may not help them relax enough. Some children, however, may associate bowel movement only with their own potty seat when used for a long time. This may lead to holding back when their potty seat is unavailable or when public toilets need to be used which may lead to constipation.

Children like to observe the family’s bathroom activities. You can sometimes let them watch the grown ups use the toilet as this makes them want to do the same.

Make them sit on the potty only for a few minutes at a time after they have indicated. Be calm and cheerful. Do not rush through the process and if your child protests, maybe it is not the right time for toilet training.

Toilet trips should be included as a routine activity in the child’s daily schedule-in the morning after waking up, after meals, before naps and bedtime.

The child must be taught proper hygiene habits. Show your child how proper cleaning should be done. Insist on hand washing after use of the toilet. Children may feel a sense of control when allowed to flush toilet contents. It also decreases fear of sudden rushing sound of water and disappearance of things.

Appreciating the successful attempts with hugs and praises encourages the child

Once adequate control is achieved, you can start using training pants. Children take this as a sign of trust and being grown up. However be prepared for “accidents” which must be dealt with patiently. Scolding and punishment may discourage the child and delay training further.

Points to remember:

  • No set age to begin toilet training
  • Should be started when child is ready and taught at a pace to suit the child
  • Requires time,patience and understanding
  • It may take weeks or months to attain complete toilet training
  • Children tend to achieve bowel control before bladder control
  • Most children achieve bowel and daytime bladder control by 3-4 years. It may take months or years to achieve success at night. Most children achieve night time control by 5 years of age.
  • Boys tend to achieve bladder/bowel control later than girls
  • Initially boys may be trained to pass urine in sitting position as this helps in achieving bowel control as well. Later they may assume standing position while passing urine
  • Soft comfortable stools, which can be achieved with a balanced diet, makes toilet training easier for the child and parent
  • Trying too hard to toilet train your child before he/she is ready can lead to long-term problems with bowel movement.
  • If there are any problems that come up before or during the process of training, you must consult a pediatrician.
  • Remember, each child is different!

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Disclaimer: These are just guidelines and is not a replacement for a visit to an actual doctor. Please seek appropriate medical advice.

Parents sharing their Potty Training Experiences on IMC

http://www.indianmomsconnect.com/2013/12/30/potty-training/

http://www.indianmomsconnect.com/2013/10/19/when-to-start-potty-training/

http://www.indianmomsconnect.com/2012/06/27/question-of-the-week-potty-training/

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