Your child has to be able to master several skills in order to become independent in going to the toilet. Once they have gained control over their bladder and bowel they need to learn how to clean themselves. This involves being able to reach behind themselves, being able to turn their hand, and knowing where to wipe.
The following ideas are to help your child master these skills:
- Ask them to touch and name different parts of their body (front and back) whilst looking in the mirror to visually reinforce the physical feedback of touching.
- Touch different parts of their body (front and back) and ask them to touch the same part whilst looking in the mirror. If difficult to achieve at first, maintain your touch until they find the spot.
- Play games involving passing objects backwards/forwards to someone sitting in front of/ behind them, like pass the parcel in a row rather than in a circle. Work on improving rotation of your child’s trunk to both sides; reaching and looking behind themselves. Can be done in standing to allow passing object between the legs/overhead.
- Pass an object like a bean bag, soft toy (small) or scarf around the body at waist level, firstly in one direction then the other. If this is achieved without the object being dropped and with reasonable speed, progress to passing the object round and between the legs in a figure of eight. This can be done in standing/in sitting on the floor with knees bent and back supported if necessary/sitting on the edge of a chair or low bench.
- Retrieve a scarf or handkerchief tucked into the back of the waistband, with either hand. Progress to learning to tuck it back in again, partially at first then fully. If necessary use a full length mirror to help.
- Provide a long mirror for child to dress in front of and to play “body awareness” games in front of.
- Next, try retrieving the scarf from the waistband by reaching between the legs.
- Play “Hunt the Object” where the child sits on the floor and feels for objects behind them on the floor without looking/eyes closed if possible. (Placing one object at a time). Make the game more challenging by asking them to identify what they’ve found by touch alone.
- Play a “Feel and Find” game. Stick light weight objects to the back of the child’s trousers for them to feel for and pull off. Use sticky tape or masking tape, doubled back on itself with make-up pads, scrunched tissue/ kitchen paper “balls”, cotton wool or anything similar stuck to the tape. Gradually reduce the size of the objects used as the child’s skill develops, finally using small pieces of sticky label.