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Thursday, October 28, 2021

World Toilet Day: Teach kids the life-skill of good toilet habits

World Toilet Day: Learning to use toilet is a core developmental skill that every child must adapt at a young age.


Updated: November 19, 2018 2:08:34 pm
toilet training for children, school toilets Start toilet training early (Photo: Getty Images)

Teach correct toilet training to avoid bowel and bladder dysfunction disease in children.

By Dr Sushmita Banerjee

Toilet training is a big step for every child towards becoming self-reliant in terms of handling their basic bodily functions. It’s a fundamental life-skill, which every human must learn properly and rather early in life. Healthy toilet habits must begin from a young age. Studies have shown that disregarding toilet urges can lead to long-term bowel and bladder abnormalities in children. Every parent should prepare their child emotionally and physically by a thorough systematic process of toilet training.

Parents and school authorities must keep in mind the following:

* Due to inappropriate toilet training, many children start developing fear of using toilet and thus choose to avoid them as much as possible.

* Often, children reduce daily fluid intake that leads to lesser usage of toilet, perpetuating bowel, bladder dysfunction and UTIs (urinary tract infection).

* The adequate treatment of UTI and bladder problems includes good fluid intake, regular voiding, and prevention of constipation.

* Toilet needs are individualistic and every child may not confirm to timetables.

* Some children have specific needs and while imparting toilet training to them, one must observe closely and attend to that individually.

* Toilet training must start within 18-24 months of birth once the child is developed physically and aware of the basic bodily functions.

* Always be mindful that your child is also emotionally ready and engaging in toilet training actively.

* Start with baby-steps. Give them simple instructions along with correct demonstration.

* Appreciate them. Don’t force them to hurry up with the training. Teach them all the rules of toilet training at their own pace.

At a young age, parents, family members and teachers have a huge influence on children, which should be channelised with utmost positivity, so that there is never any hindrance in their education and overall growth.

Learning to use toilet is a core developmental skill that every child must adapt at a young age. In order to train a child properly, primarily the parents should be aware of basic steps of toilet training and maintaining daily hygiene. From flushing the toilet before and after using, washing hands to fluid intake at regular intervals; parents must be patient with their child and employ a day-to-day training strategy so that the child can imbibe them. Most importantly, it is necessary to remember that ignoring toilet urges cause long term bowel and bladder abnormalities. Children must also inculcate the healthy habit of addressing toilet urges whenever possible.

As soon as children start going to school, they enter an unfamiliar territory. Every parent is duty-bound to navigate them through this new overwhelming experience. Young children dread the “school-going” phase in the beginning. Parents must encourage them, get them involved with activities and must not be overbearing with their routine. Some children, having imagined monsters/bugs coming out of the washroom, they also develop an irrational fear of going to toilet alone in an unknown place. In India, there are cases of older girls from underprivileged backgrounds often dropping out of school as they hit puberty because of embarrassment owing to lack of private places to maintain their dignity. Both parents and teachers must foster a meaningful relationship with children where they nurture love, respect, and trust.

“The association of Bowel and Bladder Dysfunction (BBD) and UTI among children has been increasingly documented in the past few decades,” states the International Children’s Continence Society, Pediatric Nephrology 2017. Besides, out of 83 children between one to five years of age, with recurrent UTI, 24 per cent had BBD, says a multi-centre study in Kolkata, 2015-16, Indian Pediatrics 2017.

Parents must:

* Teach children to obey urges promptly.

* Teach them to maintain perineal hygiene.

* Practice hand-washing after toilet use.

* Don’t ask children to not drink water and not visit the school toilet until they return home.

* Teach children to use toilets appropriately and leave facilities clean after use.

* Explain to them the need for eating healthy fruits and vegetables, drinking water when thirsty and the need to exercise daily.

* Talk to schools about special needs and problems that are faced or assistance from school nurses if a child is unable to go to toilet alone.

* Provide and maintain clean toilets at home.

Quick toilet training tips for children

* Sit / aim properly

* Wash / wipe from front to back (for girls)

* Put sanitary napkins in separate pack and bin.

* Flush

* Wash hands

(The writer is Consultant, Department of Pediatrics, CK Birla Hospitals.)

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