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Positioning matters - even on the potty

Positioning matters - even on the potty

In Potty training 101, I pointed out some signs that may indicate that your child is physiologically and psychologically ready to begin potty training.

Regardless of their chronological age, a child should demonstrate signs, gesture or say that they feel the urge, or feel the wetness, and that they are uncomfortable. Then it’s time!

There are instances that this may not occur until later on in life, so be patient.

Once you’ve decided which technique you think would be most practical, there are some practical things to think about.

Create a visual schedule with pictures that outline the sequence of events that occur during this task.

The pictures should include steps such as removing pants, sitting down, voiding, flushing and washing hands.

Don’t forget to dress your child in clothes that are easily removed, to increase the chance of success.

• If you’re child uses a walker, crutches, or a wheelchair, make sure that there is ample space for turns and transfers. If your home does not allow for this or if the bathroom is too narrow, then set aside a potty somewhere private and quite, set up some type of partition to allow for easy access, and figure out the rest later.

• If your child is going to use an adult toilet, a portable/foldable toilet seat (to decrease the width of the toilet ring) is one solution. If their pelvis is dangling into the ring, the child must then concentrate on holding on, pushing up, and not falling in.

In addition, if your child’s feet are dangling while they’re sitting on the toilet, then that can feel quite unsettling.

Imagine sitting on a toilet seat that is 5 feet off the ground; this would undoubtedly be scary for your little one. There is an additional and unnecessary challenge when your child has to work on balance concomitantly while voiding.

• Make sure that your child’s feet and trunk are well supported. If your child requires an adapted seat, then they will probably benefit from one while he/she is sitting on the potty. There are numerous seats that can be used to afford your child the benefit of having their trunk adequately supported, because they have to concentrate on:
a. Relaxing or contracting the appropriate muscles
b. Remaining calm during this new sensation
c. Being available to receive positive reinforcement through visual, verbal and physical strategies.

There is no magic method to achieve this monumental task. School will help with building in potty training into their daily schedule.

Make sure you carry their technique over into the days and times that your child is not in school because consistency is important.

Just like any other new skills, this will require patience, repetition (to be practiced in a familiar setting and then expand this skill to different setting) positive reinforcement, and practice.

Choose the appropriate timing to start this adventure, and you will all be automatically position your child for a greater chance for success! Good luck!

Firefly Blog

Real life stories, issues and experiences of day to day life by special needs parents and
healthcare professionals.

Sharon Galitzer (Physical Therapist)

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I'm a pediatric physical therapist and also the sibling of an adult with special needs.

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