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Potty training tips > Helping the child that won't go

Tips on helping the child that won't go

Oftentimes, children might be physically unable, or outright refuse, to use the potty. Here are some tips on helping the child that won't go.
  • Just ask. Sometimes, misconceptions or real fears stand in the way of successful toilet training. You may try just asking your child why s/he won't use the toilet. One parent did this and found out that her son was intimidated by the process and didn't know how to proceed.
  • Turn on the faucet. Some parents find it helpful in early training to try turning on the water faucet in the bathroom as a stimulus to urinate. Hey, if it works for adults it will work for kids.
  • Try the "warm water" trick. Once the child is sitting on the potty, fill a large bowl or small bucket with lukewarm or tepid water. Place some new "potty" toys in the bowl and set the bowl of water in front of the child. When the child places his/her hands in the lukewarm water to play with the toys, they may nearly instantly go.
  • Place targets in the toilet. This tip works best for older boys. Many parents put objects in the toilet so boys have something to aim for. This challenge taps into their natural interest in hitting targets. Inexpensive and biodegradable targets include Cheerios, Fruit Loops, and squares of toilet paper with drawn-on "bulls-eyes." Some parents have been known to use glitter or sprinkles. One even pours a little bubble bath in the toilet and tells her child to make bubbles.
  • Sing a song. Singing a song for your child will help you pass the time and keep them interested in staying in the bathroom. One parent who successfully trained her child created a potty song to make her son feel more comfortable in the bathroom. It's sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. It goes like this: "Tinkle, tinkle, little pee, in the potty you will be. Poopy, poopy stinky-o, in the potty you will go."
  • Soften the stool naturally. If children begin holding their stool in, the stool can become hard. Dietary changes can soften the stool. Try increasing the fiber in your child's diet. More sweet corn, peas, and whole meal bread may help. Prunes can be mashed and disguised as necessary. Baked beans, fruit with the peel left on, potatoes and chips in their skins - all can help to add bulk and make bowel movements easier. Increasing clear liquid intake will help prevent stools from becoming too dry. Excessive milk intake can lead to constipation.
  • Let your child run naked. Allow your child to run around naked when you are at home. Having to deal with the urge to eliminate will be much more noticeable to your child when there is nothing to catch it in but the potty.
  • Try a pee-pee tree. For a resistant boy who refuses to go anywhere but his underwear or training pants, as part of the outside bare-bottom drill, paint a target on a tree and show him how to water it.
  • Keep a record. Keep a log of daytime urination and bowel movements. It will help you identify your child's elimination pattern. If visiting your pediatrician, show this record to her/him.
  • Consult a pediatrician.If any concerns come up before, during, or after toilet training, talk with your pediatrician. Often the problem is minor and can be resolved quickly, but sometimes physical or emotional causes will require treatment. Your pediatrician's help, advice, and encouragement can help make toilet training easier. Also, your pediatrician is trained to identify and manage problems that are more serious.
  • Seek advice and support online. Talk to other parents about their success and failures on online discussion boards. Post a message, ask a question, and exchange information about potty training. It's a great learning experience!

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