How can parents find the right time to encourage a child to clean itself after bowel movements?
Our son is nearly 4 years old and it is still difficult for him to get to the toilet early enough (see here: How can we potty-train our pre-schooler outside the home?). During our holiday, for 2 weeks everything worked perfectly and he always told us when he needed a toilet, so that there was not a single "accident" in those two weeks (even in a foreign environment).
When we got back to the kindergarten after the holiday, 2 days went well and then he started again to poo in his underwear (also at home), so that we finally decided to make a step back to diapers (as he often stated, he did not want to go to the toilet, because it was "too far" and seemed not to be willing to cooperate).
At the same time he said each morning, that he did not want to go to the kindergarten (when asked for reasons, they were manifold and mostly concerned preferring to play at home with certain toys...) .
I got aware of the fact that the kindergarten teacher let him clean himself, when the diaper was full - I assume to show him that it was not an enjoyable job for them - which at first seemed to make sense to me. (Sure they helped him afterwards, but he had to start putting the diaper off and cleaning as good as he could.)
However I then learned, that he seems to see that as a punishment and therefore does not tell them less than ever if the diaper is "full".
So we then thought, that it might have a strong negative impact to force him cleaning himself. And I got aware of the fact, that at home we had never allowed or encouraged him to clean himself, so he was forced to do something which he maybe thought was forbidden.
I've been talking to several kindergarten teachers and they claim that the other kids (>3 years) are also cleaning themselves. That's why I'm asking.
I understand that this is much easier for the kindergarten teachers and that autonomy is a good thing to learn, but I wonder
- are those kids at the age of 3 really able to clean themselves appropriately?
- what about hygiene (washing hands, ...)?
- what about children with special digestive troubles or disorders?
Our son has bowel movements at least once daily, sometimes 4 times a day and it is often quite loose bowels, so maybe more difficult for him to get aware of it coming out and for sure much more difficult to clean, as it is quickly distributed everywhere in the diaper... After long "research" we finally seemed to find the reason for that: he seems to have an imbalanced gut flora which might cause those frequent and often loose bowels (as well as weakening his immune system etc.)
Update We made some good progress during the last weeks.
- we encouraged him also at home to clean himself and made clear to him that this is a privilege to be allowed to do that, and after some days of seeming to be not very comfortable with it, he now tries to clean himself voluntarily.
- for 7 consecutive days he managed to leave his pants clean, which gives us hope that we're on a good way
(he normally poo'es in the morning before going to the kindergarten and in the evening before going to bed - and most days he seems not to have had more bowel movements than those two.)