Yummy Mummy Melanie H. from Orillia, Ontario asks:

I need help with my daughter's potty training - specifically with bowel movements. Are there any methods or techniques to be used? She's good on the potty however always says she just didn't make it. Please help as she is starting JK in September!

Dear Melanie,

Don’t despair, this is actually quite common and is seen as part of normal development as most children achieve control of their bladder before their bowel. It’s all a learning process and they must first learn how to constrict their sphincter muscles in order to successfully achieve control, then relax these muscles in order to eliminate. So it makes sense that this may take some time.

Take it in steps and praise every effort.  Children aim to please - especially mom and dad – and once they’ve gotten your seal of approval they’ll want to do it time and time again.

Try not to succumb to pressure from yourself or outside sources.  Often, when under pressure, we tend to make hasty decisions (like throwing away every diaper in the house…including your emergency stash).  A hasty decision like this could cause your child to withhold their bowel movements, which can lead to constipation and very painful bowel movements, compounding the problem.

Below are a few more suggestions that will help.  Always remember each child is unique and what might work for one may not necessarily work for another.  As the parent, you have to figure out what best suits your child’s individual needs and go with it.

It’s All In The Timing.  Choose a time that you know you’ll be able to dedicate to potty training.  If your child is attending daycare this could be a challenge.  Work together with the daycare, let them know what you are trying at home and have them continue this throughout the day in order to provide the child with continuity.

Be Prepared.  We all know ‘that look’. You can almost always predict there’s going to be something going on - especially after a meal.  Stand by and stay close to the washroom at this point. Let her know as soon as she feels the ‘urge’ she needs to let either mom or dad know. Once you receive her signal, remind her that feeling means she needs to use the toilet and usher her off to the washroom! The goal here is to help her make that connection between the ‘feeling’ or ‘urge’ and getting to the washroom in time. Eventually bowel movements will become regular or predictable, followed by more bowel control.

Clothes Really Do Make The Difference. Choose loose fitting articles of clothing that can easily be pulled on and off. This will be especially helpful when she starts school in the fall.

Most importantly…keep your sense of humor at all times. You’ll also need the patience of Job and a degree in marketing. You gotta sell it, right?

Good luck!