For little boys who are reluctant to use the toilet, try adding blue food coloring to the water in the bowl. When they pee it will turn green right before their eyes. Magic! For variety: red food coloring + pee = orange.
Keep a pair of earmuffs next to the toilet for the reluctant trainees who can’t tolerate the sounds of flushing.
Poop or get off the pot
Success! Your child is still dry during the day, and perhaps even at night. You’re ready to tackle problem #2. Here are some pitfalls to avoid:
1. Be aware that for some children, the added pressure and weight of a diaper filled with waste can be calming and therefore, they will resist having a BM in the toilet.
2. If your child has a BM in his pants within twenty minutes of exiting the bathroom, make the toilet training experience more relaxing. Longer time on the toilet will not help.
3. Be careful with picture cues of waste in a toilet. Some individuals with autism may interpret this as meaning they can have a bowel movement anywhere, as long as they then dispose of the waste in the toilet. Use a picture cue that shows waste being expelled while sitting on the commode.
4. If constipation is a problem, add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes to their diet, or try a natural bulk laxative, which is very gentle.
5. Some children have real fears about BMs; they think their insides are coming out, or that they are losing parts of themselves. If this is the case, go slow. Try explaining the digestive system to the child, using visuals of the human body. A very popular book with lots of moms and kids is Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi.
6. How much wiping is enough? As a rule of thumb, teach him to wipe three times. This may not be enough at first and the adult present can continue to clean up, if necessary. But as he becomes more adept, three times should be enough.
Stay dry at night
Teaching your child to stay dry at night involves some preplanning and a few minor routine changes as nighttime approaches. Keep in mind the following ideas as you put together a nighttime potty training schedule for your child.
1. Restrict liquids, including water, after 6pm. If he’s thirsty, give him only a few small sips.
2. Schedule a toilet time immediately before he climbs into bed. Make it part of his bedtime routine, not an option.
3. Once he’s asleep, check him periodically to determine when he’s urinating during the night; you’ll probably see a pattern. Then wake him up consistently ten to fifteen minutes before that time and take him to the toilet to urinate. Do this without a lot of fuss.
4. Incorporate a visual prompt into his nighttime toileting routine. Post it at eye level on the bathroom door and direct his attention to it every time he uses the toilet-day or night. Hand him a matching picture when you wake him during the night. This will build the foundation for eventually using visual cues to prompt independent toileting at night without adult intervention.
5. Make sure the visual prompt is located where he can see it when he awakens during the night, reminding him to get up and use the toilet.
6. Be sure to also teach him to respond to a picture that symbolizes “sleep” and post this so he can readily see it when he finishes his nighttime toilet visit. You want to make sure he returns to bed and goes back to sleep.