As we start to look ahead to the school year, most, if not all preschool and kindergarten classrooms require children to be able to use the bathroom independently, which includes wiping their own bottoms. And this can be a very daunting task for caregivers, especially if their little one has been successfully using the potty for some time, but has yet to master their wiping skills by the first day of school.
There are so many factors involved—independence, flexibility, willingness to be involved, unfamiliar environments, different sensory experiences, etc. As you prepare to embark on teaching your child how to wipe their own bottom, the following are tips to help ease the process.
How to Teach Your Child to Wipe Properly
Empower your child
Instead of treating the process like a chore, you can instead try to empower your child to take responsibility for this skill. You can let your child know that they are old enough, independent enough, mature enough, or responsible enough to wipe their own bottom. Remind your child that they are ready and capable of doing this independently, and then set them up for success.
Reward the effort
If your child can see right through your plan to empower them, try a reward system. They can be involved in picking the reward. It can be more immediate gratification, such as a single Skittle when they perform the action themselves, or something more drawn out, like a fun pack of Skittles at the end of the day for wiping themselves with each toilet trip throughout the day. Or it can be something even more built up, like a new toy at the end of an independent week.
Use soft toilet paper
Kids will often complain of toilet paper hurting their bottoms or tearing when they try to use it. Thus, at the beginning of training, use something that is heavy duty enough for a toddler’s rough hand, while also being soft enough for their bottoms. Some kids prefer flushable wipes, and while I think these are wonderful, I would advise against actually flushing them, and instead toss them in the trash after using them. I know that this can be pricey, so once they’ve mastered independent wiping, you can transition back to your household’s TP brand of choice.
Give them the proper setup
When kids are first learning how to wipe, they may need to get off the toilet to do so. If this is the case, be sure that your child has a stable step stool to get down from the toilet. And then once off the toilet, be sure that your child pulls their pants all the way so that the material doesn’t prevent them from spreading their legs apart to wipe. Some even prefer to take pants/underwear all the way off. If the pants/underwear are too close to the hips, it will be harder for your child to spread their legs apart.
Master the home first
The outside world poses many more unknowns: automatic flushers, different-sized toilets, dirty bathrooms, other noises, strangers, etc. This environment can make this new skill much more daunting. Help your child feel comfortable with this in the home first, before trying to master it in public places, like school.
This is a new skill just like any other: riding a bike, writing their name, buttoning their clothes. They will need help initially. When you are helping them, break down the task. Maybe they bunch up the toilet paper first, you wipe, and then they toss. Or maybe you place your hand over theirs so that they get in the habit of where to wipe. Talk them through the task and praise them for the effort. It won’t be perfect initially, but keep helping them until they’ve mastered it!
Remind them to wipe front to back
We’ve all heard it—and it really is so important. Wiping front to back is the healthiest way to wipe. It helps prevent urinary tract infections and skin irritation in the pelvic region. Educate your child on why it’s important, and help them wipe around all areas so that there isn’t any residue that sits in the underwear, potentially leading to an infection.
While teaching kids how to wipe isn’t at the top of any parenting highlights list, it’s an important skill for them to learn. Hopefully, these tips help make the process a little easier for all involved!