If you’re a parent, you probably know how tricky potty training can be. And if you’re not a parent, you may not remember, but your own potty training was probably pretty tricky, as well. It’s just one of those complicated life things for kids to grasp, particularly at a young age. Some kids pick up potty training fairly quickly, while other kids may need a little more time to fully gain control of the mechanics of it all. However, if your child is experiencing ongoing struggles with understanding and controlling when to go and when not to go, it may be time to seek expert help.
"Typically, the main reason toilet training fails is that the child was trained too early,” said Blount Memorial Total Rehabilitation physical therapist and certified pelvic rehabilitation practitioner Candace Jarrett. “In infancy, of course, urinary control is involuntary. Awareness of the bladder filling, along with more control, typically begins in first and second years of life. By three years of age, voluntary control of the muscles surrounding the urethra occurs, with bladder control generally developing around four years of age. Bladder control occurs when the child has voluntary control over those periurethral muscles and voluntary control over the spinal reflexes involved with the bladder,” she explained. “Generally speaking, daytime dryness, or being able to control your bladder during the day, precedes nighttime dryness by about 10 months,” she added.
Jarrett says, as with introducing your kids to most any new thing, toilet training begins with communication. “Toilet training readiness can begin when the child demonstrates the cognitive ability to be aware of the need to void by telling you when he or she needs to pee or poop,” she said. “The conversation also can begin when they show interest in the toilet or notice their wet or dirty diaper. Other indicators are when they are willing to interrupt what they are doing to use the toilet, along with when they can physically get to the toilet, close the door, undress and dress, and then flush the toilet,” she explained. “The goal when starting out should be to try to help them stay dry for approximately two hours,” she explained.
“Proper potty training can have ripple effects on lots of things both kids and parents face,” Jarrett continued. “Many childcare and school situations require children to have reached certain levels of potty training before they can be enrolled. Plus, if a child fails to meet the deadline placed on him or her by someone who doesn't understand the complexities that bladder training encompasses, or the child's possible limitations, then it can have a real negative connotation for the child, as well as added stress on the parent. Remember that if your child is experiencing a delay in bladder control, it could be due to difficulty adapting to life events or even dysfunctional voiding, which is a lack of coordination between the bladder muscle, the urethra and pelvic floor muscles. If your child is having ongoing issues with toilet training, it may be time to consult with an expert for help,” she added.
Blount Memorial’s Pediatric Rehabilitation Clinic, in cooperation with the hospital’s MEND clinic, now has a program designed to help parents and kids with toilet training and bladder control. For more information, contact the MEND clinic at 865-980-5089.