Question: My son is soon to be four years old. I want to send him to a kindergarten programme but I find it difficult to do so because he has a problem with toilet training.
He does not like to sit on the potty for his bowel movement. I am worried that this may cause him much embarrassment at the kindergarten.
He has been toilet-trained but he started to soil his pants again recently. I do not want to force him to sit on the potty. He had constipation for days after I made him use the potty. He felt really awkward and uncomfortable.
So, now I tell him in a gentle manner to sit on the potty by himself and call for my help when he is done. It worked until recently. How should I handle this?
Answer: Just when you think your child is going to be completely toilet-trained, the process suddenly halts. Your child refuses to sit on the potty. Many children around this age will undergo similar situation when they are around preschool age. It may be due to stress or struggles in parent-child relationship.
Some children may regress in their toilet-learning when there is a new sibling or they are making the transition to school. You must find out the cause of your child’s anxiety. In your case, it does sound like your son seems a little worried with your plans for him to start kindergarten.
As children grow and develop, they feel excited about their new skills but at the same time, they can feel insecure about the changes. While they are eager to please their parents, they also want to have their own way. They feel powerful yet they still cling on to some of their babyish behaviour. This is not the time for too much pushing and forcing.
If you are bossy and demanding with your child at this stage, you will contribute to his toileting problems. To help him overcome this dilemma, you must start by recognizing your child’s needs to do what he can do at his own pace. To get him back on track with the toilet-learning process, you must be patient with him. It is in his time and not yours.
Motivate him with positive reinforcements such as praises and small rewards when he succeeds in using the potty to do his bowel business. If he should have an accident, do not scold or make a fuss over the issue. Once he is confident and in control of things, he will be ready to go to kindergarten.
Ruth Liew is an expert in early childhood education, child development, parenting, and child care. She is also an author and a columnist.