Dear David Coleman: 'We are trying to toilet train our son and he still keeps soiling his pants. Can you please help?'

We are six weeks into toilet training our son. It has been very hit and miss, with a lot of bribing, asking and reminding him to go. He still won’t poo in his potty and always goes in his pants. It put a total dampener on the Easter holidays as I have two other children and was very curtailed with outings. Nothing seems to be getting through to him. Help, please!

A Toileting issues are the most common queries that I get. Given the struggle you feel you are having, it may be that you have started the process of toilet training too soon. Choosing when to toilet train is about noting your child’s readiness, rather than being age-based, or having to train them in preparation for preschool.

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So, can your son pull his own pants up and down? Can he follow simple instructions? Does he have dry periods in the day of three to four hours? Are his bowel movements regular? Is it obvious when he needs to go to the toilet? Did he show discomfort when he had a dirty nappy? Does he show interest in the toileting habits of other children or adults? Does he show an interest in being more independent?

If the answer to all these questions is ‘yes’, then he is probably ready.

You could have another go, making sure to implement a consistent, behaviour-based toileting programme.

If, however, you have a few ‘no’ responses, then it probably shows that he just isn’t ready yet. In that case, it would be wise to wait a few months and then have another go.

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