How to Teach Wiping… Slow and Easy

Wiping can be a scary and unpleasant thing for young children and I see many of my young students who are not prepared to keep themselves clean after going to the bathroom at school.  Let’s work on this so our school friends are independent and fearless by the time Mommy or Daddy are no longer there to help.

At our school and many across the country we teach wiping using a process in education called “backward chaining”.   Once your child is potty trained and comfortably having bowel movements on the toilet, start by talking them through the wiping process as you do it for them. Speak each step out loud as you go through it.  “I need to pull the toilet paper and rip it.  I wad it up in my hand.  I wipe one time and throw it in the potty.  I get more toilet paper and wad it up in my hand.  I wipe the second time and throw it in the potty. I do wipe number three and look at the paper to see if it’s clean.  It’s clean!  Now I can flush.”  The position your child’s body is in is not important and often they start this process by standing.  You are teaching precise steps to make sure your child can clean themselves properly when the time comes.

After a couple of weeks, you should have your child to wad up the paper for wipe number three and you complete the wipe.  In the following weeks, you can have your child wad the paper and do wipe number three alone.  Then progress to having your child complete wipes number two and three.  Then it’s time for wipes one, two and three all alone.  Each child learns at a different speed and your child make take to this process very quickly and before you know they will be confident and clean.  You can teach your child to feel fully in control of his own body by the time they go to school by using this slow and non-threatening method.

You should continue to monitor your child to insure they are keeping themselves clean. Depending on their age at the time of potty training once they are confident wipers and they are ready you can begin to teach them while sitting on the toilet. Although our in-school toilets and many public toilets are

designed to have the toilet paper hang close enough to the toilet for a little one, your home bathroom may not allow for this.  Insure toilet paper is within reach by either placing on the counter or floor to continue building their comfort and confidence.

NOTE:  Remember that both boys and girls need to wipe after a bowel movement by wiping in a backward motion and most importantly little girls should never wipe back to front to avoid spreading bacteria.

Teachers and caregivers should be reminding children they need to wipe every time they use the bathroom and thoroughly wash their hands before leaving the bathroom. Children often rush out of the bathroom to get back to playing so it is important to constantly remind them both at school and at home.

Using this process takes the fear out of wiping by going slow and easy.  Now, your child is ready for complete Potty Independence and off to conquer the next milestone.

Marilynn Myers

Marilynn Myers is married to her junior high sweetheart, has 4 children, 1 lovely grandchild, 2 Yorkies and 1 cat. This is her 36th year working in Pre-K, middle school, and childcare settings. She has successfully toilet trained countless children through collaboration with families.

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