Sphincter Control in Children: Complete Guide 2024

Sphincter Control in Children: Complete Guide 2024

Sphincter Control in Children: Complete Guide 2024

One of the most crucial moments in childhood is the process by which a child learns to control his sphincters and leaves diapers. This process is usually full of frustration in children for both children and parenting style, but with information you can always make it more enjoyable. In the following guide we will tell you everything you need to know about toilet training in children, from the signs that tell you that your child could leave the diaper, to ideas for activities and games to achieve it.

What is sphincter control?


Sphincter control is one of the most important milestones in child development. It is a maturation and learning process in which children acquire the ability to control their bladder and intestines, that is, they learn to “pee” and “poop” in the right place, leaving diapers in the past.

Signs of sphincter control in children

Going diaper-free marks a crucial step toward independence and self-sufficiency. Before going on to tell you what signs indicate that our child is ready to start practicing using the bathroom, you must understand that each child is different. These differences mean that both the progress and the signals themselves can be different. Once this is clarified, let's look at the most common signs:

Interest and disposition

Your child already shows interest in the bathroom and how adults use it, even trying to imitate them, both when they go and the gestures or words they use. At the same time, he begins to express discomfort when he is wet or dirty and shows a preference for being dry. Along with this, he usually begins to communicate the need to go to the bathroom using simple words or gestures, such as “pee” or “poop.”

Regular patterns

You begin to notice that your little one can remain dry for several hours at a time, especially at night, and has regular and predictable bowel movements, showing an almost fixed pattern.

Non-verbal cues and basic understanding

When he wants to go to the bathroom he adopts specific postures, such as crouching or hiding, he may also frequently touch or grab his genitals to indicate his desire to go to the bathroom. Finally, he is able to understand and follow simple instructions, in this case related to using the bathroom, such as “take off your pants” or “sit on the potty.”

What are the stages of sphincter control in children?


As we have mentioned, getting your child to completely control his sphincters is a process, for some it will be longer than for others, but a process nonetheless. As such, it is rarely linear and although it has fairly defined stages, sleep regression in babies are normal. The stages of sphincter control in children are:


In this initial stage, the child begins to perceive the sensations associated with the need to urinate or defecate, showing discomfort or annoyance when wet or dirty, and beginning to communicate his or her need through simple gestures or words such as “pee.” or “poop.” It is the stage in which you begin to notice the signs that we mentioned in the previous section.


It is normal for your little one to begin to associate the need to go to the bathroom with the feeling of being wet or dirty, sometimes even acting irritable. Because of this, he starts looking for the potty or toilet on his own when he feels the need, or asking you for help.

Daytime control

Once the child is able to identify the signs of wanting to go to the bathroom and communicate this, he or she is usually able to control the bladder during the day, remaining dry for several hours at a time.

Night control

Bladder control at night usually takes longer than daytime control, so it will probably take a few weeks or even a few months between your little one controlling their sphincters and being able to do so at night. A child may continue to wet the bed occasionally even after achieving complete daytime control, as most children achieve nighttime control between 3 and 6 years of age.

What happens when a child does not control his sphincters?

If a child is completely unable to control his sphincters, after months of trying to teach him, it is very likely that there is some type of illness or health condition that prevents him from doing so. Lack of sphincter control, also known as enuresis (urinary incontinence) and encopresis (fecal incontinence), ends up becoming a frustrating and challenging experience for both the child and the parents.

While it is common for children to have some accidents during the potty training process, persistent lack of control after age 4 or 5 is almost always a cause for concern. We cannot tell you the exact causes, since the possibilities are many and the diagnosis must be made by a child health professional. The causes of lack of toilet training are not completely clear and can vary from one child to another. In cases like these, what you should do is schedule a consultation with the pediatrician so that he can do the studies he considers necessary and shed some light on what is causing this.

How to teach sphincter control in children? Tips


We can't tell you exactly how to teach your little one to control his or her sphincters, because of course, we don't know your little one nor do we know your circumstances. The reality is that although there are guidance manuals, your child's personality, the time you can dedicate to him and the needs you have as a family influence how the process will develop. What we can do is give you some advice such as:

Observe and recognize the signs

Pay attention to signs that your child needs to go to the bathroom, such as bending over, touching his or her genitals, acting uncomfortable, or saying “wee” or “poop.” At the same time, observe the times when you usually need to go to the bathroom, such as after meals or when you wake up, to identify patterns.

Create a favorable environment

Choose a small, colorful or strikingly shaped potty, you could even let him choose it, to attract his attention, and add a toilet adapter so he feels comfortable in the large bathroom. Try to dress your child in clothes that are easy to remove, so that they can quickly undress when they need to go to the bathroom, while creating a space in the bathroom that is comfortable and attractive, with books or toys related to the topic.

Implement a regular routine

Establish a routine for going to the bathroom, taking it regularly, for example after meals, before leaving the house, before going to bed and when you wake up. You could also use a timer to remind him that it's time to go to the bathroom and turn this into a fun game. Always celebrate your child's every achievement, no matter how small, to reinforce their motivation.

Open and positive communication

You need to talk to your child about the process of going to the bathroom using simple, positive language, explaining how the body works and the importance of using the bathroom. In the same way, answer their questions clearly and honestly, without ignoring them no matter how simple they may seem. Along with this, always avoid comparing him with other children, since each one develops at his own pace and comparing him with other children will frustrate him, make him feel insecure and erode his self-esteem.

Patience and understanding

Above all, you must be patient, since potty training requires time and effort. Don't be discouraged if there are setbacks and keep a positive reinforcement attitude, avoiding as much as possible scolding or punishments that could discourage you. Trust that your child has the ability to learn and master toilet training with your guidance and support.

Activities and games for sphincter control in children

The unquestionably most efficient way to teach something to a child is through word games or educational activities for children at home.So why not use these tools to teach your child to control their sphincters? We leave you some ideas:

Songs and rhymes

There are many children's songs that teach about the process of going to the bathroom in a fun and catchy way, you can either search for options on the internet or invent some with your little one. In addition to songs, they could also make up simple rhymes that repeat key words related to toilet training.

Stories and tales

Read books on toilet training, of which there is a wide variety, make sure when buying them that they address the topic of toilet training in an enjoyable and simple way for children. If your child gets tired of reading or listening to the same books all the time, create stories that involve characters learning to use the toilet, highlighting their achievements and the joy that this process brings.

Sensory activities

Let your child play with water in the bathroom, filling and emptying containers, exploring different textures and associating water with the need to go to the bathroom. You can also fill a box with different bathroom-related materials, such as toilet paper, wet wipes, sponges, and toy potties, for your child to explore and become familiar with.

Positive reinforcement

It is very useful to create a simple reward system, such as stickers or small prizes, to celebrate your child's achievements in toilet training. Along with each achievement and reward, recognize and celebrate his effort, no matter how small, since although it may be small for you, it will make a big difference for him.

Finding products that adapt to the needs of our children and encourage both their autonomy and independence is very useful for their development. At Kiddus we understand that although children must learn and adapt to the world around them, the world around them should also adapt to them, which is why we design accessories that are as useful as they are aesthetic. The best children's sunglasses for kids and the best children's  educational watches are at Kiddus .


In short, getting your child potty trained requires patience, understanding, and consistency. Adopt the advice and strategies that best suit you, your child and their lifestyles, always educating with patience, understanding and respect. Celebrate your little one's progress with him and never compare him with others, remember that making mistakes is not wrong and that your child is surely doing the best he can.

Author: Kiddus Team

At Kiddus we take pride in creating high-quality accessories for kids that are both functional and fashionable. Our team is composed of professionals in the children's industry, including designers, engineers, and child development experts. We work together to create innovative and safe products that meet the needs of both children and parents. With years of experience and a passion for quality, we strive to exceed expectations and bring joy to families around the world.

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