Keeping it Clean
5/30/2008 | by
By Sue Marquette Poremba
Laura Giardina of New York State is working on potty training with her 2-1/2-year-old son. Part of her potty training routine is making sure he practices proper potty manners.
“That includes a lot of things, [including] making sure the toilet is flushed, that there are no ‘pee-pee drips’ on the toilet seat and that he always washes his hands when he’s done,” Giardina says.
Getting a child to use the potty regularly is, of course, the top priority when it comes to potty training. However, this also is the best time for parents to teach and encourage their child to practice good hygiene habits.
A Few Germs Won’t Hurt
As with all aspects of potty training, it is important to keep a positive attitude about the situation.
“Keep the bathroom a relaxed area,” says MiChelle Passamaneck, a pediatric and urology nurse practitioner at the University of Colorado Denver Health Services Center. When parents are overly concerned about the child making a mess on the floor or toilet seat, the child will become stressed and have more difficulty with using the potty.
“Remember, too, [that] pee is sterile,” Passamaneck adds. “You don’t have to worry about getting infected if you touch it.”
Develop a Routine
To develop good bathroom hygiene, parents will want to add washing hands and cleaning up to the entire routine. One way to do this is to break down the potty training routine into easy-to-follow steps, potty-training experts advise. The final steps should involve cleaning up the area and washing hands. Young children thrive on routine, and they are more apt to practice good hygiene habits if they are shown them from the very beginning.
Developing good hygiene habits can be built into a reward system, too, if using a reward system works well for your child. Rather than using stickers or pieces of candy to reward the child for using the potty, allow the child to choose something particularly for bathroom use.
Garden Logan of Philadelphia bought special hand soap for her son to encourage him to always wash his hands. “I bought him bubble gum-flavored hand soap that only he is allowed to use,” she says. “It’s foamy, and he loves it. I explained that after we go pee-pee, we must wash our hands. Now, even if it’s the middle of the night, he will wash hands, half-asleep.”
Washing up can also be fun, says Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a psychologist, author and mother of four. “Tell your children to ‘make bubbles’ when washing their hands to encourage them to clean their hands rather than just rinsing off their hands immediately,” she says. “Or you may want to make up a song to sing while washing to encourage longer washing.”
Making It Kid Accessible
When potty training, parents do what they can to make everything easy for the child, from buying a special potty chair to wearing clothes that are simple to pull down.
To encourage good hygiene in the bathroom, parents should make every bathroom the child uses kid accessible. Try these ideas:
- Provide a stool so the child can reach the faucet. While many parents provide a stool in the child’s main bathroom, they often forget to put one in the bathroom the child likely uses most during the day.
- Have easy-to-use, fun-scented soap on each sink.
- Don’t use “guest” towels. The child should be able to wash his or her hands without worrying that Mom will get mad for making the good towels dirty.
- Keep kid-safe cleanup supplies handy. If there is an accident, the child should know how to do a basic cleanup. Mary Talbot of Barrington, R.I., keeps sanitizing wipes in her bathrooms for quick cleanups.
Ready, Aim, Clean!
Parents of boys may find unique challenges when it comes to showing their children good potty hygiene habits. While they are learning to use the potty, little boys often have trouble aiming into the toilet. Just like washing hands, cleaning up the toilet area is a habit that needs to be reinforced from the very beginning.
“I didn’t want to squelch my son when he was peeing all over the seat,” says Logan. “For easy cleanup, I kept a cleaner and a roll of paper towels by the toilet to clean up right after it happened.” Also helpful to have handy is a disposable mop, which are easy for kids to use and a lot less hassle than a traditional mop and bucket.
The idea is to encourage cleanliness, but there is no reason to get hysterical if something gets missed. Just like the rest of potty training, it takes time and patience for the child to get all the steps right.