The effects of lockdown on toilet training

Lockdown has taken us all by surprise. It’s something we have never experienced, nor could even imagine we would experience, in our lifetime. And with lockdown has come many challenges for parents - homes became offices, classrooms, and a safe place to entertain our children.

But for the past year, our lives have been filled with uncertainty. Daily routines have been ever-changing as we’ve learnt to adapt to the ‘new normal’. For children who need a sense of normality and routine, whether that’s going to school, playing with their friends or visiting grandparents, lockdown has turned their little worlds upside down.

Toilet habits have regressed under lockdown


Toilet habits have been impacted by this with 44% of parents reporting to have seen changes in their children's toilet routine over lockdown.

Parents are now juggling working from home, childcare and home-learning, so prompting children to use the toilet, checking they have washed their hands or even wiped their bottoms properly can understandably be forgotten.

During lockdown, children have generally become less active than they would normally be at nursery or school, too, running around playgrounds with friends. This can cause a change in their bowel movements, resulting in a rise in constipation.

Parents have reported a change in toilet habits and in behaviour due to the discomfort this is causing them, which may in turn cause children to hold off on going to the toilet when they need to.

Increase in poor toilet hygiene

When children returned to school after the first lockdown, 60% of teachers reported that there was in increase in poor toilet hygiene, with some not wanting to use the toilet at all, or not washing hands and wiping themselves properly.

Discussing this change with parents, it's clear that children have lost their confidence when using the toilet and this in turn has led to more accidents - even in slightly older children.

Separation anxiety has also become a big factor. They have had so much time in lockdown with their parents that it can make them anxious when they return to school or nursery. This can extend to other situations, such as seeing their grandparents after such a long time apart.

We should remember that children like to feel safe, and it is no exception when it comes to using the bathroom. It's been proven that children need to have a consistent daily routine and are creatures of habit, and the slightest change can easily knock their confidence.

However, this can easily be resolved so don't worry! We just need to provide support without overwhelming them and implement a relaxed, consistent hygiene routine. A simple, calm approach to this will work best, giving kids the space and comfort they need to learn healthy bathroom habits.

Three tips to get back on track with toilet training

Make a family chart together with daily tasks, ensuring a task to try using the toilet is included. Once a family member completes a task, they will tick the box. This way you can keep a close eye on your children's routine in a fun way without them knowing. Reward them daily for their achieved tasks to promote healthy toilet habits.

Encourage a daily activity. This can be simple but daily exercise helps maintain a healthy bladder and bowel. Why not make it fun and put some fun, energetic activities in a jar and a family member gets to pick one from the jar each day.

Keep talking. You can discover so many things from a daily family chat and this will help rebuild little ones’ confidence in many ways. Make sure there is no negativity around the subject of toilet habits. Keeping it positive is key!