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  • Ashburton Baptist Preschool

A Licence to Toilet

Pride and excitement are great feelings to have, and we as teachers also feel this as your child starts to use the toilet here at Preschool. This is an essential step in a child's development. Toilet training is a multi-faceted journey, sometimes with green lights the whole way and some with speed bumps and speeding tickets! There are, though, some signs that your child may be ready to get their toileting licence, and they are as follows:

Physiological Development

The ability to show an awareness that they need to toilet. This could be hiding in the corner or squatting, or having dry nappies for more extended periods. An ability to reach the pedals helps with this; a little step to get up to the toilet can be helpful!

Motor skills

No, they will not yet be required to change a tyre and check the oil! This is the ability to move themselves to and onto the toilet. The ability to pull their pants and underwear down.

Cognitive and verbal skills

Only positive language, please, as this all contributes to a positive learning experience! This looks like your child can understand and communicate the concept of toileting.

In my 16 years in Early Childhood Education, I have found that verbal language skills often flourish around the time toileting occurs. However, right from the start, before any of these signs or language is present, you can still support this developmental stage by having a positive attitude toward toileting. Using frequent language early, such as, "Oh your nappy is wet, you have done wees," or "I see you might need to do poos," helps a child link the sensation in their body with language, and subsequently will eventually turn into practice. For example, "Oh, this feeling is a wee coming, wee goes in the toilet, so I need to go to the toilet now."

Emotional and Social Skills

Sometimes we learn best when we watch someone else changing the gears or using the indicator. When children begin to desire to do things for themselves or begin to imitate the behaviour, we see they are gaining these all-important social and emotional skills. They may also have a basic understanding of what the toilet is used for and express an interest.

So, what does all of this mean, you ask? Patience, please, we have only just passed the scratch test. Your child is now on their restricted, where they need lots of support and positivity to build confidence and competence on the road. So let me help you "steer" them in the right direction…

Think to yourself, "It's about the journey, not the destination." If a child is happy to sit on the toilet, even if they don't 'do' anything, use lots of praise. The process of pulling pants down, wiping, pulling pants up, and hand washing is an important foundation to the eventual outcome of a child successfully using the toilet within the process. Your consideration of what your child is wearing can be helpful – jeans with buttons or overalls can make life that little bit trickier for children!

Fluid is key! Encouraging children to drink a larger amount from a glass regularly throughout the day instead of sipping smaller amounts is paramount. This enables the bladder to fill more and create a stronger signal to the brain that they need to urinate. Everyone likes to stop for a drink and rest break on a road trip, right? However, dehydration, juice and fizzy irritates the bladder as the urine is concentrated - which causes frequent urination of small amounts and does not allow a child to feel a full bladder to practice that signal to the brain. So, larger amounts of water will mean fewer interruptions in the journey.

What we need to remember for driving lessons:

Positive familiarity with the toilet and its use.

Confidence builds! Lots of positive praise throughout the lessons!

Lots of water in large amounts for a strong bladder to brain signal.

Lots of positive and frequent toilet language to support cognitive understanding.

What if my child keeps veering off course?

Expect regression and setbacks. Ensure it's a positive learning process. Accidents can be a positive thing because they come as an uncomfortable reminder that they need to use the toilet next time. Negativity can cause anxiety and fear and demotivate a child to continue to complete the licencing process. "Shortcuts" are never as short as they may seem on the map! Rushing the process or trying too early can mean the journey is longer.

Children who are 4 years and 6 months still soiling are eligible for a referral to a public health nurse. Parents can discuss this with their child's teacher, who can assist in a referral being made.

So, I wish you all the best with this journey in your household! Driving is always more fun in the sun but can be done whatever the weather, so strap yourself in, turn the music up and enjoy the ride.

Until next time! - Shelley

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for your pediatrician's medical care and advice. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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1 Comment

Kate Dixon
Kate Dixon
Oct 19, 2021

What a clever perspective on the toileting journey!

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