toilet training

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toi·let train·ing

training directed at teaching a child proper control of bladder and bowel functions; psychoanalytic personality theory believes that the attitudes of both parent and child concerning this training may have important psychological implications for the child's later development.

toilet training

the process of teaching a child to control the functions of the bladder and bowel. Training programs vary, but all emphasize a positive, consistent, nonpunitive, nonpressured approach. Each program is individualized, depending on the mental and physical age and state of the child, the parent-child relationship, and readiness of the child to learn. Training often begins around 24 months of age, when voluntary control of the anal and urethral sphincters is achieved by most children. When the child has mastered some motor skills, is aware of his or her ability to control the body, and can communicate adequately, training is likely to be easy. Resistance occurs if the parents try to train the child before the child is physiologically and psychologically ready. Bowel training is usually accomplished before bladder training because the urge to evacuate the bowel is stronger than the urge to empty the bladder, and the need is less frequent and more regular. Nighttime bladder control may not be achieved until the child is 4 or 5 years of age or older. Behavior modification, using a system of rewards for each of the various phases of the training, has been successful with both normal and mentally retarded children. A major nursing function is to identify the readiness of the child to learn and to work with the parents, advising them in a nonauthoritarian way of the various techniques.

toi·let train·ing

(toylĕt trāning)
Teaching a child proper control of bladder and bowel functions; psychoanalytic personality theory believes that the attitudes of both parent and child concerning this training may have important psychological implications for the child's later development.

toilet training

Teaching a child to control urination and defecation until placed on a toilet. The bowel movements of an infant habitually occur at the same time each day very early in life, but because the child does not have adequate neuromuscular control of bowel and bladder function until the end of the second year, it is not advisable to begin this training until then. Close to that time, placing the child on a small potty chair for a short period several times a day may allow him or her to stay dry. First the diapers are removed while the child is awake, then later removed during naps, and the child is told he or she should be able to stay dry. This schedule may need to be interrupted for several days to a week if the child does not remain dry.

To protect the bed, a rubber sheet should be used during the training period. Training pants or “pull-ups” may help in the transition from passive to active control of toilet habits. There is no difference in ease and timing of training between boys and girls, each taking about 3 to 6 months.

Children who are unsuccessful in remaining dry or controlling their bowels should not be punished. To do so may promote the later development of enuresis or constipation. In any event, it is neither abnormal nor harmful for training to be delayed until well into the third year of life. If not achieved by then, professional evaluation should be undertaken to detect the rare case of genitourinary or gastrointestinal abnormalities that may be contributing to such a delay.

See also: training
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