Challenges with toilet training? You might need an Occupational Therapist

Toileting is an important everyday living skill. When toileting is a problem it can make life difficult for the whole family. Toileting challenges may include:

  • bed wetting
  • frequent daytime accidents
  • withholding poop
  • soiling underwear
  • fear around going to the toilet
  • insistent on doing poop in a nappy

Toileting challenges can happen to children of all ages. Many parents don’t realise that toileting is quite a complex skill that involves many smaller skills, including:

Fine Motor and Gross Motor Skills

  • Ability to get dressed and undressed
  • Ability to maintain posture to sit and stabilise on toilet
  • Ability to maintain balance while reaching for toilet paper and wiping
  • Ability to tear and fold the paper
  • Ability to wipe effectively
  • Ability to flush the button and turn on and off vanity tap

Sensory Processing skills

  • Awareness of the need to toilet
  • Ability to cope with the sensory environment of the toilet (eg: smells, sounds)
Cognition and Communication
  • Understands the sequential steps in toileting
  • Ability to understand instructions when learning to toilet
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Attention span to remain seated for the appropriate amount of time

When a child is having difficulty using the toilet it’s important to be able to identify which of these skills they need to work on, and to focus on strategies relevant to that skill. There is a lot of advice and resources available online to help with toileting strategies. However, if that doesn’t work it’s time to get help from a professional, which can include an Occupational Therapist who specialises in toileting.

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

An Occupational Therapist is a health professional who is focussed on enabling people to participate in the activities of daily life. When it comes to toileting, an Occupational Therapist can help with:

  • Providing parent and child education
  • Tailoring practical strategies to your child’s needs
  • Help your child develop the skills needed for toileting
  • Assessing toilet set-up and equipment
  • Liaise with teacher at school / pre-school to discuss toileting plan
  • Assess child’s sensory needs and see if they are impacting on toileting

At Umbo we have Occupational Therapists who can provide support with toileting online, via videolink. Book a free consultation to talk with one of our therapists about your needs.