Toilet Training

Learning to use the potty is a huge developmental milestone for a baby. Putting the little guy in underwear even changes his look from “baby” to “kid.” It makes him or her “one of us.” The baby is usually as proud of this accomplishment as the parents.

There are many ways for parents to help their babies learn how to use a potty or toilet. However, there are some important parenting principles that will apply no matter what method of toilet training is used. Every child will eventually get out of diapers and start to wear underpants. What most parents don’t realize is that the way they train the child teaches him much more than how to use the toilet!

When is My Child Ready for Potty Training?
Parents are teaching toddlers how to be people, how to handle life, how to show love and approval. They do this teaching through feeding, holding, diapering and—yes—toilet training! It’s the way  parents do all this that conveys a wealth of information about life to the tiny tot. Is the parent a gentle teacher? Or rough? Rushed or patient? Calm or stressed out? Does the parent respect the child’s feelings or trod over them with a steam roller?

Potty training is a powerful venue for all of these lessons. To begin with, the very timing of potty training shows whether or not parents are in tune with their youngsters’ rhythms and emotions. Parents who start before the child is ready may have their own agenda that they are trying to impose on the baby. It’s more about what the parent needs or wants than what is actually right for the child. In some cultures, this is simply a practical need of parents—in places where there is no easy way to wash diapers, for example. In our culture, it can be about desiring a “natural” way of parenting or it can be a desire to show off one’s baby’s “talent.” Whatever the case, attempting to train a child before the child is physically ready (which typically occurs somewhere between 18 months & 24 months) is not acting in concert with the child’s development. This can also be the case when parents wait too long to start toilet training a youngster. Some parents are not eager to train their babies because they know that the process itself can be time-consuming and messy and that it will rob them of some sense of control of their own schedule. Having to run to the bathroom all day with a toddler-in-training is indeed inconvenient. Parents can change diapers more or less according to their own schedule and convenience. Parents who feel overwhelmed with the demands of their other tasks may therefore decide to wait awhile in the hopes that the child will train himself eventually. Unfortunately, many parents miss the toilet-sensitive period this way. They are out of touch with their child’s stage of development.

Tuning into the child’s readiness level is an important parenting skill. It applies to everything that a parent wants to teach a youngster. The optimum time for teaching is when the child shows the prerequisite skill set. Waiting too long can mean that the child will have more trouble learning the skill or may never quite get it. This is as true for teaching children how to clean their rooms as it is for toilet training!

When is a Child Ready to be Trained? There are Several Signs:

  • The child is dry for longer periods of time during the day
  • The child has a couple of well-formed bowel movements during the day instead of frequent loose movements
  • The child stops having bowel movements in her night diaper
  • The child has the dexterity to run to the bathroom and to pull off clothing
  • The child already knows how to follow simple instructions and is cooperative (i.e. is not thick into the defiant “no” stage that is typical of early toddlerhood).

Most of these developmental tasks occur naturally around 2 years of age. Although there are individual differences, the order of control usually goes like this:

  • The child stops having night-time bowel movements
  • The child attains daytime bowel control
  • The child attains daytime bladder control
  • The child attains night-time bladder control

Parents can help a child get ready for training by teaching some potty words. For instance, when the diaper is wet, a parent can say, “Oh you made a pee.” When it is dirty, the parent can say “Oh you made a poo (or word of your choice).” When the child is obviously having a bowel movement, the parent can say “You’re making a poo? O.K. when you’re done we’ll change your diaper.” During this stage, the parent can begin to bring picture books home from the store or library that show babies going through the potty-training process. This “bibliotherapy” (use of books to help reduce anxiety and create readiness) can be very helpful. Toddlers love to look at picture books and read them over and over and over again. The frequent exposure helps them become familiar with the steps they will soon be going through. Once you start formally training your baby, the books will provide added educational support.

Introduce the Function of the Potty or Toilet Chair
When you feel that your child is ready to be toilet trained, you can but a potty chair or a smaller version of the toilet chair designed specifically for toddlers and young children. (Some parents skip the potty chair and goe straight to the toilet; this is fine too.) Start the lesson by encouraging your child to sit on the potty chair, even with his clothes on, so that he can feel comfortable with it.

Then you can begin introducing to your toddler what the potty seat is for. For example, you can get the contents of a soiled diaper and dump it into the potty. If you notice from your child’s movements and/or expression that he or she is about to pee or move bowels, then you can take him or her to the seat or toilet to perform the task there.

One method for encouraging use of the toilet or potty is to allow the child to run about the house naked for a few days. When the child begins to urinate or defecate, scoop him or her up and let him or her finish the job on the toilet or potty. Although this method is a bit messy (the floor or carpet may get soiled), it is also very quick and effective. The child quickly learns the right place to deposit his or her goods.

Another trick that some parents use is to show a child how to control the flow of urine in a bathtub. This is particularly suitable for little boy toddlers. When the child wakes up dry from a nap (or, does not have a soaking diaper after a night’s sleep), take the child to the bathtub right away. Turn the tap on to let a little water run. Have the child standing in the middle of the tub, with legs slightly spread. He is most likely to start to urinate. Show pleasure! Tell him that he is making pee-pee (or use whatever words you like). This can serve as the little guy’s introduction to the functions of his body and the control he can exercise over it. After doing this once or a few times, simply take the child straight to the toilet or potty when he wakes up in a fairly dry state.

Consistency is the Key
As in other aspects of parenting, consistency is the key. Once potty-training starts, it needs to be seen through to the end. You can’t put a diaper on the child one day, underpants the next, a diaper when going out, nothing when running around the house. The best way to avoid even wanting to do this is to start potty training when you really feel the child is fully ready. Then, the diaper goes off and it stays off (at least, during the daytime). Some parents put the baby in cloth diapers for a couple of months just so that the child can feel the wetness that he won’t feel in a disposable diaper. This encourages kids to want to stay dry and fresh. Once potty training begins, thick training pants can be used to help avoid large messes while continuing to let the child feel wet.

At first, the parent must guess when the child needs to go to the bathroom. This guess can become fairly accurate by observing the child before training commences and once it begins. How long after eating or drinking does the child typically wet a diaper or the floor? Just before that time, take the child to the potty to try to use it. Don’t make her sit there for more than a few minutes. This just teaches sitting behavior! If nothing happens, take her off and bring her back every 20 minutes until she has been able to produce something. Acknowledge the accomplishment with happy praise. This will be sufficient. Children are very pleased with themselves for managing to use the toilet. There is no need to offer treats for good performance.

Bring the child to the potty as often as you feel you need to in order to avoid having wet clothes or furniture. After a few days, he or she will get the picture. However, it can be months before the child reliably tells YOU that a bathroom break is in order. Praise the child for interrupting himself to go the bathroom. Praise him for having dry underpants throughout the day. Keep the pressure off but keep the expectations up. This means, avoid any show of anger or displeasure but ignore all requests for diapers with a firm “no more diapers.”

Toilet Training Accidents
There is no one smooth accident-free path to toilet training. Along the road to independence from diapers are plenty of accidents—wetting and soiling clothes, floors and furnishings. For parents, this can mean lots of frustration. It is essential that parents remember that they are always teaching their kids more than how to sit on a potty: they are also teaching them everything about how to be a human being, including how to handle setbacks, frustration and upset.. If parents get irritated and impatient and show their frustration in unkind ways (yelling, looking mad, threatening), then little people learn that “it’s my way or the highway; things must go the way I want them to or I become nasty.”On the other hand, if parents just shrug and say “Oops. You’ve had an accident. Let’s clean up.” the child learns that mistakes are not the end of the world, solving a problem is more important than having a problem, people can stay calm in the face of things going wrong and, most important, learning is a gradual process, all about trial and error.

The younger a child is when he starts the training process, the longer it may take him to become accident-free. This just means that parents must be patient longer. Sometimes children develop anxiety around toilet-training. Sometimes it happens because the child is being trained at a late stage where his bowel habits have become entrenched. Most often it occurs in toddlers who have a bit of an anxious streak in their genetic make-up. This group may be fearful, phobic or anxious about other things besides toilet training. The anxiety is almost always about letting go of a bowel movement. Somehow, the diaper provides a safe, familiar experience whereas the potty or toilet seems threatening. Anxious kids often benefit from taking Bach Flower Therapy for a few weeks (you can find more information about Bach Flower Therapy online and throughout this site). This eases the anxiety and then a carefully structured toilet-training process can be undertaken.

Even when a child has been fully trained, accidents will still occur. Even after a child is mostly toilet-trained he or she will often continue to have accidents for a year or two. Just as commonly, a child will be predictably clean and dry for a year and then start to have accidents. This confuses parents who thought that the child was way past the stage of having accidents. However, it often occurs as the child becomes more involved in the world around him and just doesn’t want to interrupt play or activities in order to go to the bathroom. Kids of 5 or even 6 still behave this way on occasion. Don’t use shaming or anger to help cure this behavior. Instead, remind the child to go the bathroom a little more often. Also, when the trained child has an accident, take him or her to the bathroom afterward and make him or her sit on the toilet for a few minutes. This teaches the child that no time will be saved by not going to the bathroom, since he or she will end up having to go in any case.

Nighttime toilet training tends to occur spontaneously. Most kids just start waking up dry. However, many children will not be trained at night till a year or longer after they are daytime trained. And some kids will continue to wet the bed for a very long time, even into adolescence. For concerns about nighttime wetting, talk to your pediatrician. There are various treatments that can help.

No matter how many accidents your child has, keep in mind that your child WILL be completely toilet-trained sooner or later. But most importantly, your child will be emotionally trained as well. Your style of doing potty training gives your child the tools he or she will need for every learning experience.

Bed-Wetting

Bed-wetting (also called “nocturnal enuresis”) is not a “behavior problem” – rather it is a physical problem. There are many possible reasons for nighttime accidents, including:

  • Small bladder. If a child’s bladder isn’t fully developed, it may not be big enough to hold all the urine produced during the night.
  • Genetic factors. Parents who were bed-wetters themselves have a higher chance of having children who are bed-wetters. When nocturnal enuresis is genetically inherited, the problem can persist for longer than usual. For instance, it can be a family tendency that the kids still wet their beds past 7 or 8 years of age. Indeed, in some cases bed-wetting can continue right through adolescence (and even into adulthood). Medical treatments can usually provide significant relief.
  • Poor signals. The child fails to awaken when the bladder is full because the brain is not registering the “full” signal.
  • Slow or delayed nervous system development.

Bed-wetting may also be an indication of another medical problem, including sleep apnea, diabetes, urinary tract infection, problems with the urinary system, or constipation. If wet nights are consistent, talking to a doctor about the problem is recommended. Bed-wetting can also result from emotional stress such as occurs when parents are fighting frequently, someone in the family is ill, there are significant changes in the child’s life, he or she is being bullied or abused, a new baby is born into the family, or when any other form of stress is present in the child’s life.

Distinguishing between Normal and Not Normal Bed-Wetting
Bed-wetting is common in households with young children. At which age can parents expect bed-wetting to stop? How can parents tell if their child is going through a normal developmental phase or if their child has some sort of problem that requires professional attention?

Bed-wetting is common and normal for children under the age of 5. However, by the age of 6, bed-wetting should be a rare occurrence. If it is still happening twice per month in this age group, it can be considered a medical problem that should be attended to. Although the doctor may find that everything is perfectly normal and simply prescribe “patience,” it is important to rule out possible medical issues at this stage.

In addition, if a child starts wetting his bed after long periods of dry nights, or if he experiences pink or painful urination, unusual thirst, or snoring, he should be seen by a doctor.

Stopping Bed-Wetting
Bed-wetting in young children usually stops on it’s own so it’s best not to start any treatment until the child is six or seven years-old (although it is sometimes started earlier if the bed-wetting is damaging the child’s self-esteem and/or relationship with family/friends). Helpful treatments and techniques may include:

  • Bed-wetting alarms – these sound a loud tone when they sense moisture and can help by conditioning the child to wake up at the sensation of a full bladder
  • Decreasing the consumption of liquids before bedtime
  • Praising the child when he has a dry night
  • Avoiding punishments, reprimands and other signs of disapproval
  • Waking the child at night  to empty his bladder
  • Encouraging the child to go to the bathroom before bedtime
  • Diapers, pull-ups or absorbent underwear can be helpful in managing bed-wetting (and is especially helpful in avoiding embarrassment at sleepovers or similar activities)

Some medications such as anti-diuretic hormone nasal spray or tricyclic anti-depressants may also help. If the bed-wetting is occurring due to emotional stress, consulting a child or adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist can be helpful.

Natural Treatment for Stress Relief

Bach Flower Remedies are one-ounce bottles of specially prepared water (see below for details). Although they are only water, they can affect the way people feel emotionally. In fact, they can help balance emotions so that a person can release stress, upset, hurt, anger, fear, sadness, irritation, jealousy, impatience  and any other distressed emotion. Indeed,  many people report that they have successfully used Bach Flower Remedies to feel calmer, sleep better, worry less, recover faster from upset and heartache, handle parenting stress and work stress better and so on. Many have also reported that they were able to see a reduction in their child’s tantrums, aggressive behaviors, moodiness  or fears because of the use of the remedies.

But the remedies can do even more than help a transitory bad feeling : they can also help correct the tendency to fall into those feelings in the first place. When the remedies are used to treat a chronic emotional issue (like a tendency to be stubborn or a tendency to be explosive), they might actually be assisting in a processes now referred to as  “epigentic healing” – the healing of the gene that leads one to experience chronically negative emotional states. We now know that genes can be turned on and off and this is what appears to be happening when someone takes a long course of Bach Flower Therapy. This means that a child who tends to be very shy can take the remedies over time to reduce the shy tendency altogether. The Bach Flowers do not change personality, however. What they do is enable a person to be their own best self. A very strong-willed, obstinate child will retain his strength of character but instead of just being difficult to live with he will be his best self: a born leader, a confident person, one who can take appropriate action. When the Flower Remedies help a childhood overcome chronic separation anxiety, they leave the child’s personality intact: it is the same youngster without debilitating fear blocking the expression of his true self.

It’s hard to believe that these little remedies can work and it’s best not to even TRY to believe that they will; rather, just try the remedies yourself and observe how you feel while taking them. Or, offer a remedy to your child and observe the child’s behavior over the next days and weeks to see if there is any difference. Bach Flowers sometimes seem to have a dramatically positive effect on both behavior and mood and other times seem to make little difference. (Of course, there is no medical or psychological treatment either that works equally well for every single person who employs it.) In the latter case, it might be that the wrong mix of remedies is being used, but it can also be that a longer period is necessary before change will occur or even that a particular person is not responsive to the remedies at the particular time that they are being offered (i.e. this could change in the future). It can also be that while the Bach Flowers are having some positive effect, a complete treatment  requires other interventions as well including strategies like nutritional support, exercise, psychotherapy and/or medicine.

How are Bach Flowers Prepared and Used?
Dr. Edward Bach, a prominent physician in Britain who died in 1935, was interested in preventative medicine. In his search for something that could boost the immune system to ward off disease or to help the body recover more quickly and thoroughly from illness, he discovered a water-based method of healing that became known as “Bach Flower Therapy.” Modern physicists use principles of quantum physics to explain how water remedies can affect human emotions. Dr. Bach, however, understood the remedies on a purely intuitive level. He felt their effects and he could see what they were able to do to effectively relieve stress and emotional distress.

Bach Flower Remedies are prepared by taking the head of a certain flowering plant and placing it in a clear bowl of pure water. The water is heated in sunlight or on a stove for several hours (depending on which flower is being used) and then the flower is removed. The water is the remedy. It is bottled (and preserved with a bit of grape alcholol) and – in our times – sold in health food stores throughout the world as well as on-line.

Bach Fower Remedies are a form of vibrational medicine, not herbal medicine. They are NOT medicinal. They do not act on the body at all. They don’t interact with other medicines or foods or health conditions or anything. They are the same as water is to the system. However, if someone cannot have even a minute amount of alcohol in their system, they should look for the newer remedies that are made using glycerin instead. In general, however, anyone can safely use Bach Flower Remedies – babies, children, teens and adults, pregnant women and elderly people. Even plants and animals respond well to the Bach Flowers!

How Does One Take Bach Flowers?
If a person is using only one of the 38 remedies, they can take 2 drops from the remedy bottle in a small amount of liquid. They should do so 4 times a day – morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening.

However, most people take anywhere from 2 to 7 remedies that have been mixed together in a “mixing bottle.” To prepare a mixing bottle, one places water in a glass bottle with a glass dropper – generally a  30 ml  (1oz.) amber bottle. (These bottles are sold wherever Bach Flower Remedies are sold and they are called Bach Mixing Bottles.) Then one adds 2 drops from each desired remedy bottle. If a person was using 7 remedies, they would be adding 14 Bach Remedy drops to their mixing bottle. To ensure that bacteria does not grow inside of the mixing bottle, a teaspoon of brandy or apple cider vinegar should be added to the bottle.

This Bach Flower Remedy Mixture is then taken, 4 drops at a time, in hot or cold liquid, with or without food. Ideally, these 4 drops are taken 4 times a day, for a total of 16 drops daily. A person takes them in the morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening.

Adults can put 4 drops of their Bach Flower mixture into coffee, tea, water, juice, soup or any other liquid. Children can take their drops in water, chocolate milk, juice, cereal or any other beverage.

A person takes their mixture until they start forgetting to take it and they no longer need it. (Or, parents give a mixture to a child until the child’s behavior or mood issues have resolved to the point where the parent is now forgetting to give it to the child)  If symptoms return (and they most likely will), the person starts taking the remedy again. In fact a person may end up using the remedy off and on for a year or two (less time in children) before the problematic tendency  disappears completely.

How Does One Know Which Remedies to Use?
Dr. Bach wanted to keep his healing method very simply. A person should be able to read the description of the 38 remedies and decide which ones he needs. Of course, some people feel that they need all 38! However, no more than 7 should be used at a time.

A person could pick up a book on Bach Flower Remedies and decide which flowers they need based on the description of who the remedy is for and what it can do. Also, most health food stores have a pamphlet that explain what the remedies can too. Alternatively, a person can make an appointment with a Bach Flower Practitioner who will be pleased to help them design a remedy for themselves or their child.

Wakes Up Soaking Wet

It’s only natural for babies and untrained toddlers to urinate during the night. This is why toddlers and preschoolers normally wear diapers in the night even when they’re toilet trained during the day. But what if your child tends to wake up soaking wet? That is, your child wets his diapers so thoroughly that all the sheets are also wet or damp in the morning?

Consider the following tips:

Your Child Drinks Too Much Fluid Before Bed
Frequent urination during the night can simply be due to a large intake of water before going to bed. To minimize the possibility that your child will wake up soaking wet, limit your child’s drinking 2-3 hours before bedtime. In addition, discourage your child from drinking known diuretics, like caffeine-based soda, coffee-based drinks, and juices (many parents find that apple juice increases urination in their youngsters). And it also helps to encourage your child to pee right before going to bed.

Your Child Has a Tendency to Hold His/Her Bladder During the Day
Is the frequency of your child’s daytime urination within normal range (around 3-5 times a day)? If your child barely pees in the morning, then consider the possibility that he may be holding it in, which can lead to more frequent urination at night. Encourage daytime urination by taking your toddler or pre-schooler to the toilet at regular times throughout the day. Limit juice intake to the morning time, and give generous amounts of fluids up until mid-afternoon. Give a small glass of liquid with dinner and an even smaller drink in the evening if the child expresses thirst.

Consider Medical Conditions that Cause Frequent Urination
If your child has been waking up soaking wet for awhile, it’s best to visit a pediatrician. Although it is most likely that your child simply urinates heavily, it is important to rule out possible health issues that may be responsible. There are many conditions that can cause frequent urination in a child, one of which is diabetes. Early diagnosis will obviously be helpful way beyond solving the bed-wetting problem.

Maybe Your Child Has Outgrown a Diaper
Sometimes the problem is as simple as a diaper that is too small or poorly fitted. Experiment with different sizes and brands to see if a more absorbent product with a better fit helps to prevent leakage and wet sheets. Woolen diaper covers are very absorbant and help to prevent leakage through clothing and bedding. Although these can be found in speciality shops and online catalogues, you can also knit them up easily yourself: use machine-washable wool to knit a rectangle to fit your baby’s diaper area. Sew together at the sides, leaving an opening for the legs. Thread elastic through the top, to adjust to waist size. If you are a more proficient knitter, use some shaping at the crotch (knit 2, purl 2 for that portion) or go as fancy as you like!

Consider Nightmares and Night Terrors
If your child’s morning wetness is accompanied by anxiety, fear or other symptoms of nightmares or night terrors, then consider an emotional reason behind frequent nighttime urination. Changes in the child’s routine, moving home, birth of a new baby, parental conflict, starting nursery, changing babysitters – any stress can affect the operations of the body and particularly the digestive system. If the soaking is a relatively new situation, consider the possibility of stress and see if there are ways to help the child through it. A child psychologist may be helpful as well.

Worried about Child’s Development

Children develop at different rates. If your child begins to walk later than your friend’s child, this may reflect a simple difference between the two children. There is, after all, a normal range for learning to walk, with some children begin earlier and some beginning later. Lateness does not necessarily indicate some sort of problem. The same principle holds true for cutting teeth, learning to talk, becoming toilet trained, learning to read, learning to ride a bike, being ready to go to sleepover camp and learning to drive a car! There is a normal range for every aspect of human growth and development. The question is, of course, how do you know when your child is outside of that normal range? How do you know when to be concerned?

If you are worried about some aspect of your child’s development, consider the following tips:

Don’t Ask Your Friends; Ask Your Doctor!
Turn to an expert in child development to find out the normal age range for any aspect of your child’s development. This may be your family doctor, your pediatrician or a child psychologist. Taking your baby and child for regular “well-baby” checkups is a good way to stay on top of your child’s developmental tasks – just be sure to tell the doctor what your child is and isn’t yet doing. Although the internet offers a great deal of information as well, try to search government, medical and university sites for this kind of information; you are looking for accurate facts and figures. If you discover that your child’s skill level is significantly behind suggested averages, follow-up with a medical assessment.

Some Conditions Require a Long Time to Assess
A child may have a number of questionable symptoms. For instance, he may have trouble dressing himself independently at an age when his peers are already competent in this task. In addition, his speech may lag behind both in vocabulary and articulation. Finally, he may be immature for his age, displaying wild, aggressive and impulsive behavior more characteristic of a much younger child. These symptoms may be related – or they may not be. The doctor may need to watch the child’s development over the next year or two to see how things develop. This is particularly true for young children because young children have a larger range for normal development. In fact, some conditions cannot be accurately assessed until the child is around 6 years of age. Hyperactivity is one such condition. Many children outgrow hyperactive tendencies by the time they are six, but those who don’t may have ADHD (attention deficity hyperactivity disorder) or some other condition. Although the doctor may suspect the condition several years earlier, a formal diagnosis might have to wait. There are two benefits to taking your child for assessment at the earliest time: one is so that the doctor can follow the course of development in order to make an accurate diagnosis over time and the other is so that you can receive help in arranging for intervention “as if” the child has already received a diagnosis. For instance, both the parents and the psychologist may suspect that a child has Asperger’s Disorder. It will take a long time for an accurate assessment. However, the parents can begin early intervention “as if” the child does have the condition. This helps the child’s development so that by the time he is old enough for a proper assessment, the disorder (if he has it) has significantly improved! Earliest intervention gives the best results for every aspect of child development. Moreover, many interventions (although certainly not all) are experienced as fun by the child. This helps the youngster achieve the greatest growth with the least stress.

Early Intervention Makes the Greatest Gains
Many interventions that help children’s development are regular childhood activities. For example, puzzles can help eye-hand coordination and perceptual skills. Singing, dancing and listening to music can help auditory development and many types of brain development. Computer games can improve tracking skills, eye-hand coordination, fine and gross muscle development, problem-solving skills and other skills. Sports, gymnastics, dance classes and swimming lessons can improve gross motor development. Art classes can improve fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, laterality, attention to details, concentration and other abilities. And we could go on and on. The point is that you can give your child “enrichment” even in the absence of a formal assessment. If you see that your child is lagging behind in some aspect of growth and development, try to choose fun activities that build up that skill area. If you have a “teacher’s store” in your area, or if you look online for special education products and catalogs, you will find many resources you never even knew existed to help children’s development in numerous ways. Your child’s classroom teacher may have some ideas for you as well – express your concerns (and/or listen to the teacher’s concerns) and ask what sort of activities might be useful in order to help develop weak skills.

Daytime Accidents

You thought that you and your child already passed the stage of toilet training. You child has been dry 24/7 for months now and has learned to consistently let you know when he needs to go to the bathroom. You have already happily excluded diapers from your weekly grocery list. It’s frustrating then to find out that your child has had an “accident.”

Dealing with daytime accidents, when a child already finished the toilet training process, can make a parent feel like a failure. However, parents need to realize that accidents are a normal part of the extended toilet training process and occur long after earlier stages of toilet training have been completed. In other words, toilet training is a longer term process than most parents realize. A period of consistent dryness is routinely followed by periods of frequent “accidents.” Accidents often happen simply because the child is distracted with other things. Patience and consistency are what’s required from parents at this point, so that the lessons learned during earlier toilet training can be reinforced.

The following are some tips for parents dealing with daytime accidents:

Gently Remind Your Child About the Need to Go to the Bathroom
When you notice that your child is “dancing” or squirming, ask him or her to take a timeout to the bathroom. If your child’s underwear is already wet, or you’ve seen the puddle on the floor, gently accompany your child to the toilet. Your child may already be done urinating, but the visit can be a helpful reminder that no time will be saved by not going to the bathroom; the child must go anyway. This helps the child to realize that time is actually SAVED by going to the bathroom before urinating since there will not need to be washing up and changing clothes.

Don’t Get Mad
As with all the stages of toilet training, don’t get upset at your child for the accident. Don’t punish him or her for it either. Urination is a natural body process and sometimes difficult for a child to control. You don’t want to embarrass or shame a child for something he or she can’t help.

Establish Regular Bathroom Habits
Daytime accidents can be prevented by having regular bathroom habits. Invite your child to go to the toilet immediately after waking, around two hours after breakfast and two hours after lunch. They don’t have to go if they don’t need to, of course, but making it a part of the day can help them keep their toilet training in mind until they do it automatically.

Watch Out for Signs That They are Trying to Hold it in
Kids often hold in their urine when they are distracted, e.g. they are watching a good show on TV and they don’t want to miss anything. Watch your child for signs that they might be holding it in. These signs can include fidgeting or crossing legs. When you see the signs, remind them that they need to go to the toilet. Holding urine in is not healthy.

Consider Underlying Medical Conditions
If your child’s daytime accidents persist for weeks despite your interventions, consider consulting your pediatrician. There are many conditions that can cause frequent daytime accidents, including diabetes and urinary tract infections. Pharmaceutical interventions are also available to relax the bladder.

Be Patient During Transitions
Your child may already have mastered toilet training, but current stress in their life can cause the lesson to be temporarily forgotten. If they are undergoing stressful transitions, e.g. a move to a new house, then just be patient. The day time accidents can be merely an emotional reaction, and will go away once the child feels more secure.

Refuses to Go on Toilet

Some kids just won’t go on the toilet! They may be well over 3 years-old and still refuse to use it. Usually, it’s a form of fear- a fear of “losing a body part.” Used to using their diapers and feeling the safety of closeness, this group of toddlers just isn’t ready to let go. But they may be delaying acceptance to school or camp programs that require that they be toilet trained. Smart and mature in every other way, such toddlers are a puzzle to their parents.

How to Help Them
Since anxiety is at the root of toilet refusal, the first thing that must be addressed is the child’s fear. Once the fear is addressed, a simple behavioral program (normal toilet-training procedures) should work. Until the anxiety is addressed, a behavioral program may not be successful. Many parents have “tried everything” with no positive results. They get frustrated and end up making their little child feel bad about him or herself. This is unfair, because the child simply can’t help his or her anxiety. Anxiety is an “irrational” out-of-conscious-control brain glitch. The child can’t do anything about it. But the parent can.

Bach Flower Remedies
The parent can reduce the child’s anxiety by starting him on Bach Flower Remedies. The remedies Mimulus, Rock Rose and Cherry Plum will help the child deal with the fear of letting go. These can be purchased online or at a health food store. A mixing-bottle (a 30ml/1 oz. glass bottle with a glass dropper) should be purchased at the same time. Fill the mixing bottle with water almost to the top. Add 2 drops of Mimulus, 2 drops of Rock Rose and 2 drops of Cherry Plum. Add about 1 teaspoon of brandy to preserve the bottle. It is now ready to use. Put 4 drops of the mixed remedy into a small amount of liquid ( up to 8oz. of water, milk, juice, soup, cereal etc.) and let the child have a sip or as much as desired. The remedy should be given 4 times a day (morning, noon, afternoon, evening). It is tasteless and totally harmless (it’s even safe for pregnant women and newborn babies!).

Give the remedy for 2-3 weeks. After this period, start the toilet training program. There are many ways to do this. For instance, take the child’s clothes off and let her run around the house naked for a few days, taking her to the toilet about an hour after meals and any time she seems to need to go or has started going. Just pick her up and put her on the toilet. No rewards are necessary for going in the toilet apart from a show of pleasure. Certainly, no punishments or disapproval should be used when the child doesn’t make it to the toilet. You can also put the child naked and standing upright in the bathtub right after a nap. Turn the water on a little. This can encourage urination. This is helpful if the child isn’t used to urinating on the toilet yet.

It is important not to offer the child a diaper once you start the serious toilet training program. The child must confront his or her fear. However, once on Bach Flower Remedies, this will be much easier for the child to handle. Sometimes, the entire issue disappears and the child just trains himself!

You can find more information on Bach Flower Therapy online, in books, and throughout this site. You can also see if there’s a Bach Flower Practitioner in your area for further guidance.

Try this approach with your reluctant child and hopefully, you’ll both be pleasantly surprised.

Baby Not Meeting Milestones

Not all babies have read the Big Book of Baby Milestones. As a result, some of them take their sweet time about meeting normal developmental milestones. While the “normal” infant may have several teeth by 12 months of age, the “different” baby may cut her first tooth well into her second year. While “normals” sit up between 4 and 6 months, the “independent minded” baby may not sit till 9 or 10 months. Some “free thinking” babies never crawl (they just start cruising one day); some don’t utter a word until their third year; and some don’t walk until 18 months or beyond.

Milestone Madness
This is all fine and dandy, except for the angst it causes parents. What is it like to be taking your baby to a mother-baby program and find that only YOUR baby isn’t eating solid food yet? How does a parent cope with the puzzled looks and insensitive interrogations from well meaning friends and relatives (“WHAT? She doesn’t walk yet? What does the doctor say?). Can parents just shake off the constant innocent but hurtful mistakes of strangers (“Oh, I thought he was just very large for his age….”). How do parents reconcile the differences between what the books say and what their baby does? How do the parents sleep at night?

Individual Differences
Smiling, rolling over, clapping hands – whatever the task – individual babies perform it when they are ready. Most often, differences in attaining particular developmental tasks are simply differences. Most often, they do not indicate that something is wrong with a baby. However, the best way to attain peace of mind is to bring your questions and concerns to your child’s doctor. If the doctor feels that the delay in question might require intervention or further investigation, he or she will refer you to an appropriate specialist. If your doctor feels that all is well, then you can just sit back and wait until your little “individual” decides to perform.

Treatment Required
Should you discover that your baby’s delay is actually a symptom of a condition requiring treatment, then the next step is to provide that treatment. Sometimes a gym class will be suggested, or a physiotherapist or perhaps an occupational therapist or a speech therapist or some other kind of specially trained professional. Again, most children who require extra help soon become indistinguishable from their peers who got there a little quicker or on their own. Sometimes, however, your child’s delay is a symptom of a disorder that will affect your child long term. In such a case you will experience many emotions before you can just settle into providing the special services or therapies that your child may require. Since this is the least likely scenario, however, it is important that you don’t put yourself through all of these emotions out of worry and anticipation. Save them for if and when they ever become appropriate to the situation. In other words, don’t worry about your child’s development unless your doctor gives you a definite cause for concern. Even then, help yourself alleviate undue anxiety and suffering by availing yourself of professional guidance and support at the same time that you tend to the needs of your baby.

Staying Steady
Babies thrive best in the arms of confident, relaxed parents. Always try to think positively about your child. If you have questions, let your medical team give you answers. Avoid catching hysteria from spouses, relatives and others by quoting your doctor frequently. Provide whatever help is called for and then sit back. Your prayers for your child will provide comfort for you as well. And remember: children are always individuals who march to their own drum. You might as well get used to that idea from the very beginning.