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Parenting Corner- Potty Training Children with Down syndrome

Potty training of a child is a phase most parents go through. It is a part of child's development and a step towards learning life skills as well.

For children with Down syndrome, learning these life sill may be a little more challenging than other kids.

However, they can slowly learn to do many simple tasks and be independent with time. With use of some simple tips and patience, parents can potty train their children with Down syndrome.

Every child has a different pace of learning. Children with disabilities and disorders take a bit longer but can definitely learn many useful skills. All we need is to be patient as teachers and parents and give them nurturing space to learn and grow. Meenu Shahi, Founder, UDAAN Special School.

Here are some ideas to follow.

  1. There is no special method that will work for children with Down syndrome and they can learn the same way other kids do.

  2. Before potty training, help the child learn about personal hygiene. This can be done by setting examples yourself such as washing hands, brushing teeth, wearing clean clothes.

  3. Try and identify the child's toilet pattern and try and stick to that.

  4. Take the child for toilet after a regular interval and encourage them to empty bladder.

  5. Follow similar pattern about potty training and set a particular time that the child has bowel movements. Keep a track of the timing to know the pattern.

  6. In the beginning you may have to regularly check if the diaper or clothing is wet and soiled to understand the pattern.

  7. You can use visual aids, flash cards, facial expressions to encourage the child to use the toilet.

  8. Children learn faster when fun is involved, you can use fun songs, videos or may be a special dance and motivate the child to use toilet.

  9. Communicating with the child is important part of the process.

  10. Be very patient and do not put too much pressure on the child to follow a pattern set by you.

  11. All you need to do is to create the child's interest in using the toilet.

  12. You can also try and ensure that the child is able to go to the toilet independently.

  13. Overtime teach the child how to undress and redress for toilet.

Here are some difficulties you can prepare for.

- Be mentally prepared for things to fail at first.

- The child may not learn from day one so be ready to keep trying without getting frustrated.

- The child may also feel frustrated and irritated, leading to crying at times. Do not lose hope when that happens.

- The children may create a mess and there may be more dirty clothes to clean initially.

- The child may feel emotional and not respond to the practice. You need to help them feel emotionally stable and start working again.

- Some children with Down syndrome may need physical support due to muscle weakness. Help them when they need help.

There are lot of such small things that factor in, however, they may vary from child to child. Shower the child with praises and affection and enjoy the learning phase of their life.

"Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that involves birth defects, intellectual disabilities, and characteristic facial features. Children with Down syndrome take more time to learn things and they may start learning at different ages. Parents should not compare children with other kids. " says Seetha Ravichandran,a parent and SCAN member

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