A parent-teacher partnership can help children feel comfortable with bodily functions. 

EVERYONE HAS STRONG FEELINGS ABOUT APPROACHES TO diapering and toileting. Each child, parent, and teacher has a unique view on this essential part of life. Parents and teachers need to form a partnership to help children feel comfortable with bodily functions and become competent toilet users. The first step in this partnership is to ask parents about their approach to diapering and toileting. Find out what happens at home. Asking about the specifics of the family's routine helps to establish a respectful collaboration. Parents can be an important resource. Sally's Mom, for instance, knows which songs will briefly calm her wiggly and squirmy 14-month-old during diaper changes!

Diaper changes take up a large chunk of the day. Try making it fun with songs and finger games. This can be an intimate time when baby feels special and important. Listening and talking or babbling to one another also promotes language development by laying the groundwork for the turn taking of developing conversation.

Parents often bring up toileting when their 2-year-olds begin to be more independent and seem to have better muscle control. Again, each family will have its philosophy. Toileting is largely influenced by cultural and familial beliefs. There is a wide variation in style, especially in the parents' willingness to follow the child's lead.

It is important to find out basic information about a toddler's experience with toileting. Some teachers use a questionnaire. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Does your child use the toilet? Bowel or urine?
  • How comfortable is your child using the potty chair? The toilet?
  • What words does your family use when referring to bowel movements or urinating?
  • Does he stay dry at naptime?
  • Does he use a diaper during nap?
  • Are reminders necessary? How often and when?
  • How do you handle the accidents that are a natural part of the learning process?
  • How is it going so far?
  • Is there anything else we need to know?

After finding out about the family's approach, share with them that it helps to stay low key and avoid getting into power struggles. Explain how you encourage the child's developing control over her own body without pressuring her to move too quickly. Toileting, like eating, should be an activity for which the child learns to read her own body signals-let her lead the way.

These types of exchanges let parents know that you are flexible in your approach to toileting and want to work with them to do what's best for their child.

Share the Care 

Toddlers send signals when they are ready to begin toileting. You can discuss these signals with parents, asking questions such as the following that will help everyone to stay on track with the child's current competencies:

  • Does she seem interested in toileting or talk about it?
  • Is she staying dry for long periods of time?
  • Does she tell you when she has just gone or is going?
  • Does she come to you for a diaper change?
  • Can she remove her clothes herself?

Questions for Families

  • Here are important questions to ask parents about diapering:
  • How do you keep your baby comfortable?
  • Are there special songs you sing while diapering?
  • Does your baby look at a mobile or hold a favorite toy during diapering?

Is your baby prone to diaper rash, and if so, how do you handle it?