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As Muslims we are use to using a Bidet shower for purity reason. We moved to the UK some time back and now we have a toddler who is soon going to go to playgroup nursery. One of the requirements the teacher said is that he should be able to use toilet.

First, I find it hard to understand that a 3 year old can use toilet himself. Secondly, as we are use to bidet shower, even I have trouble using toilet paper for bum.

At the moment I wash him in home as he is still learning to tell me when he has urge to go to toilet and sometimes he misses it as part of training.

How do I teach my son to use toilet paper and the right way? How do I make him comfortable using it?

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You may consider purchasing a portal bidet for your son to use, but these devices might be challenging for a 3 year old to use.

Otherwise, I think your best option is to continue practicing. Incorporate rewards similar to what you would toilet training in general. Leading by example could also be helpful here.

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In brief: use soft toilet paper; engage the child and make it fun and pleasant; use learning by example; wipe from front to back; about half the kids master wiping by roughly 4 years old.

Note that we did not use the bidet for children - that could be a good idea. I found from personal experience that this worked for us:

  • Use soft toilet paper (easier on the child). Roll out extra sheets for the child, e.g., 3-4. Crumpling them into a ball, and wiping with that "ball of tissue" is often easier for the child.

  • Engage the child. Make it fun and pleasant. Have them select toilet paper brand (or wet wipes, if possible). Start by taking turns who wipes the child: the parent or the child, and mark these with letters on a sticky note above the toilet (P C P C ... - use your actual first name initial).

  • Use learning by example, as @jcmack mentioned. Some suggest using a doll and teach to wipe the doll.

  • Wipe from front to back (see below).

  • Wash the child's bottom daily with warm water and gentle soap, as part of the bathtub/shower at bedtime. I do not trust toilet paper to keep the child's bottom clean, any more than I trust paper towels to keep hands clean.

  • About half the kids master wiping by 4 years old, but YMMV. The range is wide for mastering toilet skills in general, and in the study below there was not enough data to determine the age range for wiping. Note that this is based on only 1 study (see below).

More details and references:

How To Teach Toddlers To Wipe Themselves | Potty Training Concepts: https://www.pottytrainingconcepts.com/How-To-Teach-Toddlers-To-Wipe-Themselves.html

Make sure to show your child that they need to wipe from front to back. This is extremely important for both boys and girls, since bacteria can get into areas when wiping the other way and cause infections. Once they have pulled their own wipe, you want to help them go through the motion of wiping. If you are using a potty training doll, make sure that the doll "wipes" also. This is important when using model potting training, since you are using a model that you want your child to replicate and copy. So, even a doll needs to be wiped after a bathroom use.

Schum TR, Kolb TM, McAuliffe TL, Simms MD, Underhill RL, Lewis M. "Sequential acquisition of toilet-training skills: a descriptive study of gender and age differences in normal children.", Pediatrics. 2002 Mar;109(3):E48. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/3/e48.long

When to expect results?

For the skill "Wipes poop effectively by self": median age = 48.5 months (girls), 45.1 (boys), see Table 2. [For the purposes of this question, median age means that half of the children could master this skill by that age, and half could not. It does not mean that everyone could do it by that age. - TS]

How wide is the range?

There were not enough children who attained the skill of "wipes poop effectively" to be able to determine the 75th percentile for girls or boys. [And from Table 2, the 25th percentile is about 40 months, which mean that 1 in 4 children could master this skill by 40 months. - TS] [...] The range of normalcy for the attainment of individual skills may vary by as much as a year.

How were the kids in this study selected (for comparison with my child)?

A longitudinal survey was conducted of a cohort of children who were 15 to 42 months of age and attending 4 pediatric practices in the Milwaukee area [...] from 1995 through 1997. [...] For making the results more generalizable, recruitment sites included 4 pediatric clinics in the greater Milwaukee metropolitan area (2 inner city clinics, whose populations are 60% Hispanic and 75% black, and 2 suburban clinics, whose populations are 70%–90% white).

SEE ALSO:

Gwen Dewar, "Potty training problems and solutions: An evidence-based guide", Parenting Science blog. https://www.parentingscience.com/potty-training-problems-prevention.html . A great summary of evidence, with lots of references, such as the reference to the paper by Schum et al.

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