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Potty training can be frustrating enough without the challenges of potty training extending past the toddler years into pre-school, kindergarten, and beyond. Typical struggles of near misses, soaked sheets, and poopy pants preparing for pre-school are messy, time-consuming, and frustrating, but when the challenges extend into school years, the resulting power struggles are easily fueled by anxiety, shame, and humiliation. This is when parents may panic as they imagine the consequences of these problem accidents at school played out with teachers and peers.

We are so fortunate to have here in Northern Virginia our very own, self-proclaimed “Poopy Doctor”! Dr. Libby Robbins, a practitioner at Child and Family Counseling in Fairfax, has written a fabulous book; The Potty Wars: Understanding and Helping Your Encopretic Child.

If this is something your family struggles with, I encourage you to take a look at the summary below and then head to Amazon to pick it up.

“Encopresis and chronic constipation are distressing conditions that affect many children, and their families. When a child cannot master toilet training, it is upsetting for the child and parents alike. Children feel frustrated, embarrassed, and confused. Parents can feel angry, guilty, incompetent, and worried. Parent/child relationships are negatively affected as power struggles over toileting dominate the household. Most parents start by consulting a pediatrician or pediatric gastroenterologist and beginning medical treatment. In some cases, medical intervention takes care of the problem. In other cases, despite laxatives and stimulants, colon cleanses and sticker charts, the soiling or refusal to use the toilet continues. In The Potty Wars, Dr. Robbins addresses these stubborn cases. Based on her experience treating over 100 children with encopresis and toilet refusal, Dr. Robbins clearly explains why some children struggle with the basic developmental task of toilet training. She also presents strategies that parents can use to help children become masters of the potty. The Potty Wars provides hope and help for families dealing with this challenging problem.”

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There is some great information out there about how to prepare your child for kindergarten. These are some of the ideas I think are really valuable.

  • Create a routine over the summer. Give your child a bedtime (8:00 PM is great!) and stick to it.
  • Have your child practice writing their first name. If your child can do this, try the last name, or practice lower case letters
  • Use counting in your daily activities. Count how many steps it takes to get to the mailbox or the park. Count out fruit, placemats, napkins, and so forth.
  • Take your child with you to the grocery store, post office, library, and other errands. Talk with them about what they’re seeing, hearing and touching. It’s all part of learning!
  • Let your child practice their independence by allowing them to make certain choices (“Do you want an apple or a banana?”), and by encouraging them to try new things and to problem solve
  • Prepare a “study spot” for your child and supply it with crayons, paper, scissors and other kindergarten “tools.” Set aside a time each day for your child to draw there. Once school starts this can become the time and place where your child does their homework.
  • Read, Read, Read! (In English or any native language!)

Most of these take very little time and you can add them seamlessly into your daily routine. Something as simple as knowing how to write their name can give kids that extra bit of confidence that can be so helpful in those first few weeks of school.

Posted in Parenting, School Anxiety | Comments off