Every kid starts their potty training at different ages, but they all start learning by wiping their bottom. Many children are ready for potty training between ages 18 and 24 months. As they reach the age of 3-4 years old, most of them should be able to wipe their bottoms with some help from an adult after a bowel movement. When children are school-aged (age 3-5), they are expected to go to the bathroom independently without help from an adult, including wiping their bottom.
What if my child is 5 and still struggles with wiping themselves?
It’s okay! Every kid is different and they develop at different rates.
Here is an activity for parents to practice at home:
1. Prepare a plate, a condiment of your choice and toilet paper. Smear some sauces on the plate. Peanut butter, mustard, ketchup…
2. Take some toilet paper. Demonstrate and show your child how to hold it flat in their hand (not wadded into a ball).
3. Walk your child through the process of wipe, fold, wipe, fold…until they don’t see anything on the toilet paper anymore.
Let your child know that’s how they’ll know when they’re finished and ready to flush.
Ask your child to take a new toilet paper if needed. Wipe the plate until the toilet paper is all clean.
**Let your child that we are doing this activity to learn how to wipe our bottoms after using the bathroom.
Practice makes perfect.
Every time your child uses the potty, have them try to wipe themselves first. Then you can go in behind them to finish up. Giving them the chance to try every time they go to the bathroom is a great way to practice.
Keep checking! Even after your child has the confidence to wipe themselves, do a check here and there and reinforce any strategies or techniques as needed.
I am proud to be an occupational therapist. Ella Wu, OTD, OTR/L Doctor of Occupational Therapy