Jun 15, 2023

NI Potty training consultant on what to do if your child is not fully toilet trained before starting school or nursery

"Whilst this is obtainable for many children, there are some who may find this difficult to obtain for a variety of reasons"

Toilet training can be a relatively smooth process for many children.

However, Susan Wallace who runs Settled Petals, which specialises in infant sleep, potty training and more, says some children may find this milestone more difficult to obtain.

She said: "Many schools and nurseries have a policy which states that children must be toilet trained before commencing their provision.

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"Whilst this is obtainable for many children, there are some who may find this difficult to obtain for a variety of reasons."

Susan said these reasons may include:

Susan added: "These children may require personalised support to allow a smooth toilet training process, in line with their own individual development.

"Whilst it is primarily the role of the parents and caregivers to support their child with toilet training, it is beneficial if schools and nurseries understand that not all children will be fully toilet trained prior to the age of starting school, and some individual support may be required.

"Whilst we appreciate that schools and nurseries have to meet the needs of many different children and that resources can be limited, it is important that this is balanced against a child’s entitlement to access education, and a right to be treated with respect and dignity. A child’s toilet training progress should not limit their social or educational opportunities.

"The key to supporting children with their potty training progress, is to first determine what may be impacting it."

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The mum-of-two has explained various reasons which may impact toilet training for kids.

"For example, for children who experience frequent urinary accidents it can be worth exploring whether the child may be constipated. Constipation is a frequent cause of urinary accidents as a heavy bowel can place pressure on the bladder. In this instance GP support is recommended, alongside a balanced diet, adequate water and exercise.

"For other children, a medical condition, sensory needs or medication may be influencing their progress and tailored support may be required.

"Other children may find it difficult to communicate their toileting needs, and may respond well to support to help them communicate using flash cards or Makaton. I supported potty company Potette to create Potty Flash Cards, which provide both visual flash cards, and instruction on how to support children using baby sign, in an attempt to ensure that verbal communication skills were not a barrier to toilet training success.

"A common reason for a delay in Toilet Training completion is a fear about using the toilet, particularly for poo. Stool holding can be more common than people may think, but when experienced, it can feel overwhelming for many families. In this instance, gaining both support for constipation (if applicable) and emotional support and understanding to manage this fear is often the key to success. It is important that children are never shamed or punished for their reluctance to use the bathroom. In order to release poo children need to relax muscles, and pressure is not beneficial. Some families find that having their child blow bubbles can promote relaxation to aid both release of the bladder and the bowels. Other children require more individual support," Susan said.

The East Belfast woman added: "Some children are almost toilet trained before starting school, but need some support to finish the learning process. Often the last areas a child masters are pulling up their trousers, and wiping their bottom. They will require gross motor skills to master this which may require a little time support and patience.

"Working in partnership with schools and nurseries is very important. Most are very receptive at working in partnership with parents, to ensure consistency of care is supplied to children. I would encourage families to speak with schools about any of their concerns.

"In order to protect children’s entitlement to education, in addition to protecting the child’s self esteem, dignity and feelings of self worth, we ask that schools and nurseries take an individualised approach, working in parentship with parents, to ensure that children’s inclusion and wellbeing remain priority."

You can find more tips and contact Susan directly for support via her Facebook or Instagram.

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