Our 3 yr old is toilet trained. Nappy pants at night. But we are having difficulties with number 2 training. He started really well, but has gone backwards. Is this normal? How can we improve his ability to know when he needs to go and use the toilet and not poo his pants which then leads to him and us getting upset.
Problems with bowel mastery are far more common than many parents realise – particularly when it comes to boys. Ideally boys should learn to urinate sitting down first as they may not want to sit to have a bowel movement – if you think this is the problem it may be helpful for your husband to let your son watch him using the toilet in different ways. Children will withhold stools if they feel pressured or if the process is too stressful so it is important to talk to your son calmly and find out if anything is scaring him. Some children find the whole process of flushing their poo down the toilet quite confronting and find it easier to use a potty. Check his stools as hard stools can cause fear and constipation making children more prone to accidents. It may be necessary for you to go back to some of those basic strategies you used when you first started toilet training him. If he has a regular time for bowel motions, say mid-morning, try to ‘catch it’ by sitting him on the potty or toilet – don’t forget to get really excited when this happens but not too excited so as to overwhelm him! Watch for behavioural indicators such as grimaces or poses or behaviour that indicates he is about to have a bowel movement – you can help him to identify these cues by pointing them out to him. Remember that repetition and reinforcement are keys to success – keep talking to him about how we do our poos in the potty/toilet. Remember to praise all successes (depending on your son’s likes and dislikes you could use sticker charts, verbal praise or edibles) and ignore those little accidents. Of course if this continues you should consult with your GP.