Toilet-training tips and advice

Pampers parenting experts identify some of the most common challenges that your child might face and tell you how to handle them.


Most children have accidents after being toilet-trained. When your child has an accident, clean it up calmly and have him help. This gives the message that toilet training is his area of responsibility. Make it clear to him that helping is not a punishment. Always take along an extra set of clothes when a child under five is outside the house, just in case.

Boys refusing to stand

Sometimes little boys will refuse to urinate standing up, having initially learned to sit for this task. Instead of making a fuss, let your son do as he wishes until he's ready to stand up. He'll eventually figure this out.

Little boys should have a strong, arched stream; if not, they need an evaluation. If dribbling comes on suddenly, it could be an indicator of an infection.

Going in hidden places

In this situation, reassurance and guidance are much better than scolding. If you find poo or a puddle behind the couch or curtain, try and avoid personal pronouns and direct language ('Did you put the poo behind the curtain?'). Your face will show your disappointment; your words should merely provide directions for a better way to handle the problem.


Frequent urination, pain with urination, dribbling in small amounts, inability to hold urine, changes in the appearance or smell of the urine, and unexplained fever can all be signs of a bladder infection. Consult your child's healthcare provider if your child has any of these symptoms.


If a child feels too stressed or pressured to toilet-train, she may begin to withhold urine and/or stools. Follow these guidelines to avoid constipation and other problems:

1. Hold off on toilet-training for a while

Back off for now and come back to this issue in one to three months, asking your child if she's ready to try at that time. Withholding is a power play that a child will win. So don't engage in combat.

2. Treat constipation

Both a cause and a result of withholding stools, constipation should first be treated by adding lots of extra fibre and fruit to your child's diet. If in a few days that doesn't work or you suspect it requires further treatment call your healthcare provider who may suggest a stool softener or gentle laxatives.


Return of bedwetting

If your child has been consistently dry for three to six months or more and then starts to wet the bed again, the cause may be psychological or may indicate disease. Consult your child's healthcare provider unless the stress is obvious and resolves in a week or two.

Prolonged bedwetting

A number of children continue bedwetting after the age of six. At this age, about 10 per cent of children consistently wet their beds, and at age 12, as these kids enter adolescence, about 3 per cent still have this problem. For these children, bedwetting is usually related to the maturation process of the brain and bladder connection. Talk to your healthcare provider if your child is still wetting the bed at age six or older.


Most children find their bowel movements and their bottoms fascinating. Exploring how BMs feel and smell – in other words, playing in the poo – is normal for the under-18-month crowd. However, pay attention when an older child purposely uses bowel movements for finger painting. This usually is a strong expression of anger about something, not necessarily related to going to the toilet. Work with your child's healthcare provider to work out what's going on.

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