A young baby cannot of course control when he passes urine or has a bowel movement. Control over the bowels and bladder do not come until well into the second year. Holding a child on a potty may have successful results, but it will only be a matter of luck, and potty training cannot be achieved until the child is physically ready for it. Bowel control is usually achieved between 15 and 18 months and the child may be dry during the day a few months later. By the age of two-and-a-half years approximately 90 per cent of girls and 75 per cent of boys have achieved bowel and bladder control throughout the day, but it may take another six months before they stop wetting during the night.
- Do not force the pace – the child must achieve control in his own time.
- Some children go straight from wearing nappies to using a toilet without using a potty at all.
- Allow a child to get used to his potty – let him play with it. Make sure it is comfortable, stable and hygienic.
- Neuer hold a child forcibly on the potty until he has performed. This will only create tension and fear, and may cause the child to be oversensitive to normal bodily functions when he is older.
- Encourage a child to use his potty, and praise him when he does, but do not scold or punish if he is unable to perform.
- Do not show disgust or repugnance towards the contents of the potty. A child will soon notice this and be puzzled at the reaction to his efforts.
- Do not be surprised if a child seems to be potty trained and then reverts to wetting and soiling his pants. It can be caused by illness, attention seeking or emotional problems and will need patient understanding, not anger and scolding.
- The child should not be compared with other children who may be quicker to obtain bowel and bladder control. It is not his fault and unkindness may make him stop trying altogether.
- Hygiene rules should be established during this stage. Children should be taught how to use toilet paper (front to back for a girl) and to wash their hands after every visit.
- Trainer pants (towelling pants with a plastic cover) can be a help when the child has almost got control. They are less bulky than nappies and easy to get up and down.
- Children are curious about what they have done and may wish to handle the faeces. This should be discouraged, but without a display of horror or disgust. It should not be implied that there is anything disgusting about the body’s natural functions.