The Dangers of Early Potty Training

The Dangers of Early Potty Training

  • On August 6, 2018
  • incontinence in children, potty training

Are you panicking after another parent bragged about potty training their child at 18 months? Although it is tempting to google early potty training methods, there are many reasons why it is wise to resist.

There has been a major change in toilet training in the last 60 years; the age at which toilet training began has been significantly postponed. However, some parents feel rushed to potty train their children in order to “compete” with peers and ensure their child is ready for the academic world. Some schools are aiming to maximize their focus on academics through even restricting their classes to the fully toilet-trained. The pressure to potty train can be intense, with parents wanting to keep up with others in the playgroup. Physician visits for constipation have doubled among children in the last decade or so, while hospital visits for constipation have doubled among children in the last decade or so. Hospital visits for constipation have quadrupled. In the West, a child learns to toilet train any time after 18 months, the average being two and a half years. Some parents who do early potty training avoid diapers by racing through potty training. However, evidence has shown that racing into potty training can actually be a cause of later bladder and bowel problems.


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What is Wrong with Potty Training too Early?

According to Doctors, potty training too early can cause a range of health problems later in life. Dr Hodge asserts, “potty training should not be initiated before ages three or four under any circumstance. He asserts, “children under age 3 should not manage their own toileting habits any more than they should manage their college funds”. Hodge believes that early potty trainers often suffer from constipation, urinary tract infections, bedwetting and kidney infections. The less a child visits the toilet, the more opportunity for infection-causing bacteria to develop in the bladder. It can also cause extreme constipation, which in itself can be a cause of faecal and urinary incontinence due to causing irritation. Children of a young age do not like chores such as using the potty, and will be likely to put it off so they can spend more time playing with toys. The main problem that stems from early potty training is the development of chronic holding. Chronically holding urine and faeces can cause urinary tract infections.



Be Patient and Wait                             

Experts claim that a child must be physiologically and behaviourally ready. Although the correct age to potty train may depend on a child’s personal development, it is many specialists agree that between the age 2 and 3 is ideal. Incontinence specialist Dr Donohoe recommends parents wait until their child is between 2.5 and 3.5 years old. He explains, “this is when most children have enough brain and bladder development to potty train successfully”. However, bear in mind that some children may not be ready until they are around 4 due to a variety of reasons. You also want to avoid causing problems and pressure if your child is too young to bladder train. Paediatrician Mark Wolraich states, “Trying and failing can cause frustration, negativity and other problems”. If you wait until your child is older, they will be mature enough to know the importance of going to the bathroom as soon as nature calls and not hold it. They still need to be reminded about toilet trips, however are more responsible and less likely to hold it until they are desperate. For a number of reasons, it might be wiser to spend more time enjoying your baby than agonizing over potty training early.



Struggling with Potty Training? Try the Following Tips:


Remain Calm. A child may feel pressured or disappointed if they sense you are panicking or rushing them. Remaining CALM can help them feel more relaxed and will allow more success.

Use Rewards. Using rewards if your child is successful can be effective in providing motivation. For example, if your child goes to the potty successfully, use sweets or words of praise to congratulate them.

Don’t Force it. Don’t make your child sit on the potty for more than a few minutes. If they want to get up, let them.

Use a teddy. Evidence has shown that pretending to teach a toy to potty train can get children more involved and motivated.



Read our Children’s Incontinence Advice Section for tips on looking after an incontinent child. 



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