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YOU might think you’re in the clear when your baby grows out of nappies, but toilet-trained tots are just as demanding.
Nappy or not, parents are still stuck wiping bums for at least a few years until your little one is able to do it themselves.
Sue Welby knows a few things about wiping children’s bottoms
It might take some kids longer than others to pick up, but there are some clever ways to help speed up the process.
Sue Welby, a parent educator and mum-of two reckons wiping bottoms is a hard skill for children to learn so start early and take small steps.
First things first, don’t rush it. It’s normal for your little one to finish doing their business and call out ‘I’m finished’ to mum or dad.
Parents will then go rushing in tearing off toilet tissue on the way and taking to their bottoms with one swift swipe.
Start with this but always move on to teaching the steps of wiping so that eventually kids can do it themselves.
Use a log mirror
The first lesson is teaching kids how to wipe from front to back.
A good way to do this is by using a long mirror as this will help them understand what is front and what is back.
“Get them to stand in front of it and touch different parts of the body,” Sue, the founder of Little Life Steps, suggests.
Use appropriate wording
Toilet humour is always a good laugh for kids so say things like ‘bottom’ or bum bum’.
You may also want to start with using wet wipes as this is often easier. But Sue says not to do it all the time.
This is because daycare or public bathrooms might not have them available and that will make it harder and more confusing for children.
Explain the why
Next, they need to understand why it’s important to wipe their bum. Here you can be creative.
But a good idea is to remind them that they could get a sore bottom if they don’t wipe it properly, and that will make them want to do it.
LEARN THE MOVEMENT
Sue says: “In my experience, I always find it’s easier for children to wipe standing up rather than sitting on the toilet.
“But then we want to move on so they are going behind them and wiping their bottom while they are sitting.”
WITH A SCARF
There are plenty of fun ways to help with this step and one way is with a scarf.
“Tuck the scarf in their waistband. Let the scarf hang down and what they can do is they can put their hand through under their leg (from behind) and pull the scarf out from their waistband,” she explains.
“What they’re doing is that action (of wiping from behind).”
TRY USING A TOY
Any game that allows them to practise this movement will work as well.
This could mean passing a toy (or another object) around their waist and grabbing it with the other hand.
RAID THE STATIONERY DRAWER
If you have cello tape of Blue Tack handy, either could work well.
Try sticking some Blue Tack underneath a chair, have your child sit on it, lean under and pull it off.
Another way is to stick cotton pads or balls to the back of their trousers using tape.
Sue says: “Children love to pull them off. They can put their hand behind their back and pull it off.”
Once they’ve nailed that, stop using the cotton pads and just use tape It’s a little bit harder but is a great way to practice, she says.
HOW TO WIPE
When it comes to the act of wiping, you can’t look past a scoop of Nutella (or peanut butter) in a bowl.
That’s right, smear some chocolate inside the bowl and get them to practise wiping.
“This game kids love,” says Sue
But first, you need to teach them about the rules of toilet paper.
“Four sheets then rip and fold,” says Sue.
There is a clever way to stop them from pulling the roll until it unravels in a pile on the floor.
You could print out a sign with an arrow and the word ‘here’ and paste it on the wall.
Doing this will help them understand how far to pull before tearing off the paper.
To help them fold they can place the toilet paper (remember, four sheets only) over their knees and fold it in so each sheet is stacked into four layers.
“You need to teach them to put their thumb on the edge and not the middle,” Sue says as this will avoid getting poop on their thumb while wiping.
Then, once they’ve got their folded paper and hand positioning right, they can practise scooping up the Nutella from the bowl.
But Sue says it’s wipe once then fold, going back in with another wipe. After two wipes, throw the paper and repeat the process.
Other methods for visual learners
If your child is more of a visual learner, Sue suggests using pictures.
“You can find them on the internet if you type in ‘wiping bottom pictures’ and it shows you all the steps,” she says.
Simply show the steps in sequence so your child can see them which will helpfully help plant the idea in their head.
Parents can also try a book about wiping children’s bums (of which there ar plenty) which is particularly useful for kids who like to read.
Always praise their effort
Sue says to say things like “well done for trying, mummy/daddy is just going to check.”
So the idea is to move them on from saying “mummy/daddy I’ve finished” and have them say “mummy’daddy can you come check” once they’ve given it a go themselves.
“Also, try to remain positive and calm. This is a skill that takes a little bit of time to learn, ” says Sue.
“So if we get a little bit impatient with our child they’re not going to learn the skill, they’re going to back off. So just remain calm.”
Sue runs child behaviour courses advice through her website. For more details, visit Littlelifesteps.com.
Sue’s bum-wiping tips and techniques
Some other tips from Sue that might help your child include:
- print the picture off with the word stop so little ones don’t use too much tissue.
- nutella in the bowl to practise wiping
- keep the thumb out the way when wiping
- fold the paper across the knees
- the front and back games
- scarves in the waistband.
- wipe standing up first
- use a full-length mirror to play body awareness games.
Sue Welby is a mum of two and founder of Little Life StepsCredit: Sue Welby