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Toilet-Training Tips and Advice

Toilet-Training Tips and Advice

Are you having troubles with toilet training your child? Don't worry — that's completely normal. Here are some of the most common challenges children face, and some advice on how to handle these issues.

Accidents
Most children have accidents after being toilet trained. When your child has an accident, clean it up calmly and have him help. This gives the message that toilet training is his area of responsibility. Make it clear to him that helping is not a punishment. Always take along an extra set of clothes when a child under 5 is outside the house, just in case.

Bedwetting
Return of bedwetting. If your child has been consistently dry for three to six months or more and then starts to wet the bed again, the cause may be psychological or may indicate disease. Consult your child's healthcare provider unless the stress is obvious and resolves in a week or two.

Prolonged bedwetting. A number of children continue bedwetting after age 6. At this age, about 10 percent of children consistently wet their beds, and at age 12, as these kids enter adolescence, about 3 percent still have this problem. For these children, bedwetting is usually related to the maturation process of the brain and bladder connection. Talk to your healthcare provider if your child is still wetting the bed at age 6 or older.

Boys Refusing to Stand
Sometimes little boys will refuse to urinate standing up, having initially learned to sit for this task. Instead of making a fuss, let your son do as he wishes until he's ready to stand up. He'll eventually figure this out.

Little boys should have a strong, arched stream; if not, they need an evaluation. If dribbling comes on suddenly, it could be an indicator of an infection.

Going in Hidden Places
If you find urine, wet pants, or stool in strange places — behind curtains, in play chests, or under the bed, for example — your child may be feeling too much pressure to please you or worrying too much about accidents. In this situation, reassurance and guidance are much better than scolding. Give him a verbal plan on how to handle an accident: "When those pants get wet, put them in the laundry room and get some dry ones to put on from your drawer." Stay away from personal pronouns and confrontive language. Your face will show your disappointment; your words should merely provide directions for a better way to handle the problem.

Infections
Frequent urination, pain with urination, dribbling in small amounts, inability to hold urine, changes in the appearance or smell of the urine, and unexplained fever can all be signs of a bladder infection. Consult your child's healthcare provider if your child has any of these symptoms.

Withholding
If a child feels too stressed or pressured to toilet-train, she may begin to withhold urine and/or stool. This can lead to constipation and other complications. Here are some guidelines for dealing with this problem:

1. Hold off on toilet training for a while. Back off for now and come back to this issue in one to three months, asking your child if she's ready to try at that time. Withholding is a power play that a child will win. So don't engage in combat.

2. If your child is suffering from constipation, treat it right away. Both a cause and a result of withholding stool, constipation can be treated with stool softeners, gentle laxatives, and lots of extra fiber and fruit. If the problem isn't solved in a week, call your healthcare provider.

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