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What skills does my child need to use the toilet?

While so many of us use the toilet daily without even thinking, toileting is made up of a complex set of skills that can take time to learn. Below, our occupational therapists have broken down the key skills involved in toileting. 

 

Urge awareness

Your child’s ability to sense when they need to go to the toilet, by feeling when the bladder and bowel are full or empty.

 

Communication

Your child needs to be able to tell their parent/carer when they need to wee or poo. This could be through speech, signs, visuals, gestures, and more. 

 

Memory and planning

Your child needs to have knowledge of the steps needed to use the toilet and be able to order these correctly. 

 

Biomechanical skills

These are all about the physical movements involved in going to the toilet. Your child needs to be able to get onto the toilet and sit comfortably by remaining balanced, and be able to reach for toilet paper, to wipe and to flush the toilet. 

 

Getting dressed

The ability to take your pants and underwear off without help is key to using the toilet. Some clothing items may have buttons or clasps that make this harder. This also often needs to be done in a timely manner!

 

Relaxing

In order to fully empty their bowel and bladder, your child needs to be able to relax while they sit on the toilet. Sometimes, experiences with constipation can lead to fear around the toilet or doing poos, that may affect your child’s ability to relax and engage in the toileting process.

 

It’s also important to make sure your child is healthy to achieve successful toileting – check in with your GP if there are any concerns or questions. If your child is having trouble with any of the above, our occupational therapists may be able to help! By taking an independence focussed approach, you can help your child learn the above skills so that they feel confident learning to use the toilet.


SIENNA SMILEY

Occupational Therapist.

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