-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- Incorrectly toilet training
children can lead to problems ranging from bed-wetting and daytime
accidents to urinary tract infections, so it's important to get it
right, an expert says.
There are a number of common mistakes that parents make when
toilet training their children, said Dr. Steve Hodges, a pediatric
urology specialist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in
Training too early is one mistake. Children younger than 3 don't
have the mental maturity to make good toileting decisions. "They
don't understand how essential it is to get themselves to a
bathroom when nature calls," Hodges said in a Wake Forest news
release. "Instead, they hold their urine and feces, which can lead
to numerous problems, including bed-wetting."
Holding urine also leads to smaller bladder capacity, Hodges
Some parents potty-train their children but don't follow up with
their toileting habits. Parents should have children urinate on a
schedule, about every two hours, he suggested. To help make the
bathroom trips successful, have the child count to 10 while on the
potty and have some favorite books and puzzles nearby. Hodges also
said that a high-fiber diet can make defecation less painful, so
children are less likely to try to avoid it.
Up to 30 percent of children aged 2 to 10 have chronic
constipation, but some parents miss the signs of constipation in
their children. "Many parents mistakenly believe that if their
child has daily bowel movements, they are not constipated," Hodges
said. "But in kids, there's a different definition of constipation
known as 'poop burden.' It refers to poop backed up in their rectum
that can press on the bladder and cause bed-wetting and other
Symptoms of constipation in children include having extra-large
bowel movements or bowel movements that are very firm, rather than
mushy; poop accidents; poop-stained underwear; and mild belly pain
with no obvious cause, Hodges said.
He also said parents should never ignore signs of bladder
trouble, which include painful and frequent urination and blood in
the urine. These symptoms could be due to an infection or other
problems that should be evaluated by a doctor.
Accidents of urine or stool should not be considered normal and
"Often, parents have the impression that wetting, like throwing temper tantrums, is just something kids do," Hodges said. "But accidents aren't normal and potty-trained kids shouldn't have accidents any more often than adults do."
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