Potty-training method won't affect tot's health, study finds

October 29, 2012 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter
Potty-training method won't affect tot's health: study
Rather than arguing or punishing, parents can help make this a positive experience.

(HealthDay)—One less thing for toddlers' parents to stress over: A new study finds that toilet-training methods aren't the cause of urinary problems in children.

Whatever method parents choose—early toilet training with firm direction or a more child-oriented approach in which training begins when the child shows interest and willingness—makes no difference, researchers say.

"Don't get hung up on how to do it," said lead researcher Dr. Joseph Barone, an associate professor of surgery and a pediatric urologist at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J.

"The most important thing is that you begin the toilet training somewhere between 27 and 32 months," he added.

Proponents of each method are adamant, Barone said. "But, in reality it doesn't matter which method you use—what matters is that you do it," he said.

Study co-author Marc Colaco, a medical student at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, agreed that either choice is fine.

"This is a debated topic over which way is best to toilet-train your child, but both lead to good outcomes," Colaco said.

The report was published in the Oct. 29 issue of Clinical Pediatrics.

For the study, the researchers compared the two methods of toilet training in children aged 4 through 12. One group of 147 children didn't have after training, while the other group of 58 children had ongoing problems including accidents or the need to urinate often.

Neither method was more effective than the other, and there was no link between either training method and later urinary problems.

The method of toilet training isn't as important as making sure not to create a traumatic atmosphere, said Dr. Kristin Kozakowski, a pediatric urologist at Miami Children's Hospital in Florida.

Either method works "as long as the parents are not being negative, but providing positive reinforcement," she said. "Every child is going to have accidents."

Many parents use various combinations of methods, said Kozakowski, who was not part of the new study.

"But, even when parents do the best job they can, some kids still hold to the last possible second. That's what causes the problems later on," she said. "It's hard to know if it's the child's personality or if something happened or if they are afraid of the toilet. Some of these things have to do with the child himself and others have to do with the surrounding environment."

Kozakowski advises parents that children will usually be toilet trained when they're ready. "Parents shouldn't make it into an argument or a negative traumatic experience, which could lead to problems later on," she said.

Tips for Trouble-Free

When you think it's time, Barone and Peter Stavinoha, a clinical psychologist at Children's Medical Center of Dallas, offer these tips for getting kids trained:

  • Look for signs of readiness. These include showing interest in the potty or toilet; staying dry during naps or for several hours during the day; being able to follow simple directions; being able to pull down their own pants; and using words, posture or facial expressions that indicate they have to go.
  • Make a small potty available in the bathroom. Try doing practice runs when you think your toddler might need to go by having him sit or stand in front of the potty for a few minutes several times a day. Most likely, your toddler won't actually go. But it can help him recognize the urge to go and associate the potty with it.
  • If your child resists, don't sweat it. Setting up a battle of wills will only make the process unnecessarily difficult for mom and dad. Back off for a few weeks, then try again.
  • While potty training, avoid asking: "Do you have to go to the potty?" You're almost guaranteed your child will tell you "no."

If a child is 4 or 5 and still not staying dry during the day, or if you suspect a physical cause, discuss it with your pediatrician, they say.

Explore further: When and how to toilet train children

More information: To learn more about potty training, visit the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Related Stories

When and how to toilet train children

August 8, 2011
Parents often ask their doctors for advice on toilet training young children, and a new article in CMAJ summarizes current approaches and evidence to help physicians respond to these queries.

Eyes are windows to more than a child's soul

September 1, 2011
Nearly 80 percent of what children learn during their first 12 years is through their vision. Though vision problems may seem easy to identify, they actually can be difficult for parents to discern. Still, parents need to ...

Autism Speaks provides strategies to help a child with autism shows difficult behaviors

June 21, 2012
Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, today released An Introduction to Behavioral Health Treatments, Applied Behavior Analysis and Toilet Training parent's guides. These latest tool ...

Recommended for you

NeuroNext biomarker study explores natural history of infantile-onset SMA

January 9, 2018
Research led by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to define the natural history of infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) has been "critical" to accelerate the development of effective therapies and hasten ...

No link between childhood lead levels, later criminality

December 27, 2017
(HealthDay)— Exposure to higher levels of lead during early childhood can affect neurological development—but does that mean affected kids are doomed to delinquency?

Early puberty in girls may take mental health toll

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—A girl who gets her first menstrual period early in life—possibly as young as 7—has a greater risk for developing depression and antisocial behaviors that last at least into her 20s, a new study suggests.

Technology not taking over children's lives despite screen-time increase

December 21, 2017
With children spending increasing amounts of time on screen-based devices, there is a common perception that technology is taking over their lives, to the detriment and exclusion of other activities. However, new Oxford University ...

Higher blood sugar in early pregnancy raises baby's heart-defect risk

December 15, 2017
Higher blood sugar early in pregnancy raises the baby's risk of a congenital heart defect, even among mothers who do not have diabetes, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Injuries from window blinds send two children to the emergency department every day

December 11, 2017
Most homes have them. They help keep our rooms warm or cold and even add a pop of color to tie the décor together. But window blinds can cause serious injuries or even death to young children. A new study from the Center ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.