How to help children control sphincters

Sphincter control occurs when urination and defecation behaviors cease to be reflex behavior become voluntary and automatic conduct. The average age for achieving sphincter control is estimated to be between two and three years.

As these ages begin to approach and boys and girls still fail to control their sphincters, stressful situations are usually created in which caregivers start to worry; which can cause more stress for the little ones and hinder the process considerably.

In this article, we will go over several tips that can be helpful in helping boys and girls control sphincters.

    What is sphincter control?

    Specific sphincter control it is about dominating at will a muscle in the shape of a ring and that it closes or opens ducts in the body to allow us to release certain substances.

    Getting to control the sphincters inside the anus and urethra is one of the behaviors that allow us to socialize. It is also a process that involves many factors, among which the age, maturity and development of the child, As well as environmental factors which can both favor and hinder the process.

    We say that a boy or girl has not acquired sphincter control when he or she is already a certain age or has faced certain social demands (such as going to school), and continues to do so. wet or stain clothes or use diapers, during the day and / or at night.

    Why do some children achieve sphincter control earlier than others?

    In principle, it should not be forgotten that, although we have found some patterns of child behavior and development, these guidelines are not definitive: There is great diversity in the processes we go through as human beings.

    In other words, it is quite normal for some children to engage in certain behaviors before others, and if we are to specifically promote sphincter control, we have to start taking it slow.

    As we have seen, it is a process that depends on several things. Situations that produce tension, stress and anxiety they are one of the significantly interfering factors. These stressful situations are usually big changes, which can cause stress because at a young age it is difficult for boys or girls to recognize the rules of a new place and what they are supposed to do.

    Examples of these changes are the arrival of a new sibling, the opening of a new school, the loss of a loved one and even a pet, among other similar events, and even parenting styles. who tend to overprotect; although not all children react the same to any of these examples.

    On another side, a boy or girl may take longer to control the sphincters if they have developmental issues which causes voluntary behaviors at a different rate. Also, the process can be influenced by infections or muscle pressure.

      Tips to help children control sphincters

      There are many ways to encourage it, and it is sometimes preferable to consult a specialist directly who can guide caregivers and support the stressful situations that the little ones may go through. Some of the most common strategies are listed below:

      1. Encourage personal care behaviors and habits

      In addition to being a behavior, sphincter control is a habit which means step from addiction to independence; which in turn is accompanied by other habits that also allow socialization (such as dressing alone, brushing teeth, showering, communicating, etc.).

      Therefore, if we intend to stimulate sphincter control, it is also helpful to encourage other habits related to independence and self-care.

      2. Modeling and preparation of spatial conditions

      Modeling is one of the most popular strategies in cognitive behavioral psychology and essentially involves modeling another person, to help them acquire a behavior. In this way, the child must learn how and where to urinate and defecate. We can do this directly as adults, but we can also rely on educational material, like stories.

      It is also important to make sure that children have a suitable space for their height and to put on clothes that are easy to take off. From there, it helps to gradually invite yourself to sit on the urinal at specific times (right after meals, upon waking or before bed); as good as involve them in their own diaper change (For example, ask them to take clean diapers, wet towels, clothes, etc.).

        3. Do not press

        It should be remembered that boys and girls have different rhythms and that they assimilate situations in different ways. Giving them peace and quiet is one of the most effective methods.

        It is common for periods of incontinence to occur when the process begins, during which it is necessary to avoid rumbling. In the same vein, it should be borne in mind that they may first gain control of the daytime sphincter, so we have to be patient if during the night the process is slower.

        In the same way avoid comparisons like “your brother controlled long before”, Or phrases like “you are a pixaner” as this creates anxiety and further delays the process. If what we want is for them to feel responsible for their own hygiene, there is no need to scold or punish them, we can do it another way.

        For example, encouraging self-care and responsibility for themselves by teaching them to wash a part, or depositing it themselves in the washing machine (or as needed depending on individual conditions or lifestyles) . In any case, be understanding, convey your confidence and accompany them.

        4. Use a newspaper

        Especially in the case of children who, for reasons of physiological development, need more support to achieve sphincter control, it is very useful to have a daily diary where we note the times the child urinates and defecates.

        Keeping this file daily and in the weeks before departure a special training program is very useful because it allows us to know the rhythms of the child, and thus to anticipate and accompany in the process.

        5. Start a formal training program

        In some cases, it is necessary to complete a formal training program, Which can start by removing the child’s diaper and putting it on half an hour after he has urinated or defecated (which is anticipated thanks to the block that we have explained above).

        Then it’s about keeping the diaper on for an hour or two and taking it off again. Above all, this training requires a lot of patience and a lot of order on the part of the caregivers; especially if it is a child who has learning rhythms or adaptive behaviors that are considerably different from the rhythms we see in other children.

        In this case, it is particularly advisable to seek a formal orientation, because the training varies according to the characteristics of the child and the people in charge of his care.

        6. make sure the kids have the basics

        Before starting a training program and before asking them to use the urinal, it is important to know if they have basic body knowledgeIn other words, if they have acquired notions related to the contour of the body (for example, top, bottom, before behind).

        We should also encourage recognition of keywords such as toilet, diaper, dirty, clean, floor, urine, feces, urine, or those in their immediate context.

        7. Help recognize when you get it

        It implies that the child associates a voluntary behavior (control of the sphincter) with a pleasant and pleasant feeling. That is why it is important to congratulate him or show him that we are happy and satisfied that he has managed to use the urinal correctly.

        The reward may be different for each child, but in any case, it’s important not to go overboard. Above all, we must avoid that the boy or the girl ends up associating the habit of going to the toilet with material rewards (because these are rewards that we will surely not be able to sustain in the long term and which could cause other complications. later) .

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