Toilet training and constipation

Learning to use the toilet can be tricky for any child. As soon as constipation is involved things can become a lot more complicated. Often parents may have tried every method and nothing seems to work. Children and their families are tired, frustrated and just plain over it. That’s usually when they seek help and are referred to an occupational therapist or an incontinence nurse. 

3 top tips for toilet training:

  • Take away expectations. When a child has been constipated for a long time the intestines will stretch and may take up to 6 months to resume its normal size. 
  • Toilet timing. If a child has been constipated and their bowels have been stretched, this means the child is unable to detect toileting signals. A child will need to follow a routine for weeks or even months before they can feel they need to go once more. Having a routine is a reliable way to get the child into a habit. For example: Wake up and then go to the toilet
  • Talk about how it feels. Children who have a history of constipation may be in pain and no longer be able to feel when they need to go. Teaching them the language to use around toileting may help them to start tuning in to what their body needs. Use phrases such as; “is the water in your tummy trying to get out?” “Can you feel something pushing down on your bottom”. Language like this helps a child to know what they should be feeling and where they should be feeling it.

How can occupational therapy help with toileting?

Occupational therapists can bring a unique lense to toilet training by assessing any barriers in the child, the task and the environmental set up. Child factors may include motivation or knowledge of the toileting sequence or even fear. The task itself may have been set up in a way that is too difficult for the child and the environment may not support the child to empty their bladder and bowels easily. Your OT should be considering all of this and more to best support any child with a history of constipation and toileting needs. 

If you feel that you need extra support to toilet train your child there are a number of occupational therapists to assist with this. Contact Therapy Alliance Group today to get this toilet party started.