The stress of toilet training our children can cause anxiety and frustration. What seems so natural as 'Nature Calls', isn't quite so simple to developing minds. Children associate bowel movements and urination with making themselves comfortable, and do not immediately think of the repercussions (my carpet!). Modern disposable diapers today have become so advanced, many times babies or young children do not even notice that they have wet themselves. The absorbency of materials has increased (wood pulp, being the most common, and bamboo, being the most absorbent). There are also natural elements used to wick away moisture. Imagine not realizing your own body relieving itself. With such advances in these technologies, it is upon the parents to teach their children how to recognize these bodily functions, and what to do in each situation.
In the last 10 years, major diaper labels have developed XL and Jumbo sizes. This has caused confusion among parents who may justify their child's lack of continence with the fact that diapers still fit. They are designed for larger children and thus, do not feel uncomfortable for some children even as old as 5 years old. When parents allow this behavior to continue, they are doing a disservice to their child and society. Schools have reported an increase of 'diaper bullying' - when a child is at the butt of a joke due to his or her incontinence. Parents are none the wiser, and the poor child still does not understand how to react.
June Rogers, a well-known published researcher, has written about the topic in her book "Helping Schools to Manage Continence Problems". In it, she describes the problems, outlines the responsibilities, and helps implement strategies for schools dealing with the 'diaper drama' at schools. She focuses on the education from the school to the parents about the importance of this issue and their children's independence. Without such an ability to know how to use the restroom, a child's confidence may quickly erode.
So how long should our kids and babies wear diapers? The standard length of time is 3 years. However, as all children develop at different speeds, a pre-schooler with pull-ups or disposable diapers may not be so uncommon. Do not fall into justifying your child's incontinence, however, just because there are diapers that still fit. After all, "reduce" is the highest priority in "reduce, reuse, and recycle".
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