Potty training girls problems
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
NCT potty training expert Heather Welford and GP and father of five Chris Henry have solutions for common potty training problems
Does she need to be retrained?
Q My daughter Katie is now over three-and-a-half and still wets herself regularly. I've had enough of being laidback about it. What can I do?
Heather says: If a child continues to have problems with training after the age of three, she might need re-training. Start off with everyone calming down a bit and have a break for a week or so, then start retraining gradually. A successful approach with children this age is often a star chart with rewards, because she can see the benefit. If the day-wetting persists, she may have a urine infection (more common in girls than in boys) so see your GP for a test. If it's clear, take a weekend to retrain her gently, with a sought-after treat if she stays dry all weekend.
She thinks it's a toy
Q I've just started potty training my little girl, Ella, who has just turned two. She seems to be willing and is always taking her nappy off to sit on her potty. So far, though, she hasn't actually done anything in the potty and seems to think it's just a toy. What can I do?
Chris says: It sounds as if you're actually doing rather well, but have just been unlucky. Try to prolong the amount of time your daughter sits on the potty for, particularly when you know she is due to go, by sitting with her when she's on the potty and reading to her, or letting her sit on it in front of the television while her favourite programme is on. You could also try increasing her fluid intake so that she needs to go to the toilet a little more frequently. If you time it right and keep her nappy off so that she doesn't do a sneaky wee in it, you're sure to get some positive results eventually.
He won't use the toilet
Q My four-year-old son will only poo in his trainer pants. Please help.
Heather says: There's no need for a four-year-old to still be doing it in his trainer pants. At four he's both physically and emotionally capable of going to the loo in the right place. However, if he's been constipated in the past, he may be anxious. A little bribery may help him overcome the reluctance, and then it should be straightforward. Offer him a treat when he has successfully used the loo and keep up the rewards with a wall chart and stickers.
She leaves it too late
Q My 28-month-old daughter hates me asking if she needs the loo - I'm sure it puts her off telling me - then she's desperate or has wet herself.
Heather says: Most children dislike being pestered about using the potty. It's normal for children not to know they need to go until it's urgent. Watch your reaction. Your daughter may not be telling you she needs the potty because she's scared you will be cross if it goes wrong.
I think he's constipated
Q My son, Harry, suffers from constipation and is reluctant to use the potty. What can I do to ease this?
Chris says: It really is quite normal for a child to do a poo only every other day, or every third day. The problem doesn't really lie in the frequency, but the consistency. If it's hard to pass, it's more of a problem because the pain can put him off going next time, and this leads, in turn, to even more constipation. If you think this could be your son's problem, ask your GP to prescribe a stool softener, which will help and deter him from hanging on intentionally in the future. You could also try increasing his fluid intake to encourage him to go more often. If you suspect that he is putting off using the potty because he's worried about it hurting, get your GP to check he doesn't have an anal fissure, which can be very painful.
He's scared of the potty
Q My son Jack is 26 months old and seems to be scared of the potty. He won't even go near the toilet. My mum and grandma keep telling me that I should have started him on the potty at five months, then I wouldn't have had all this trouble. Is this true, have I missed the boat?
Heather says: No, you haven't missed the boat, and Jack's refusal to use the potty is most certainly not your fault. While it was common practice to put very small babies on the potty in our mothers' and grandmothers' day, it isn't now. You need to remind your critics that a great deal has changed since they were raising children - not just the nappies and the advent of automatic washing machines, but our entire attitude towards parenting. It's far more independent and liberal than the rigid guidelines our mothers and grandmothers were set and told to stick to in the past. Besides, while they might claim their children were trained by their first birthday, they were merely conditioned to perform, as a reflex action, in response to the feeling of the potty or toilet. The pitfall comes when a two-year-old discovers that he can control that reflex, and chooses not to oblige. No child is properly potty trained until he tells you he needs to go, and goes himself. I've yet to see a one-year-old walk downstairs and get on the toilet.
It may seem difficult when the pressure is on, but you simply need to give it a rest and try again in a few weeks. In the meantime, try to find some friends whose potty trained toddlers will show Jack how it's done, and perhaps offer him a reward if he tries to sit on the potty, however briefly to start with. Remember that success is likely to be much quicker when he does crack it if you've started training him later.
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