Butt-Wiping 101

Butt-Wiping 101 Picture

The other day, while out shopping, I had to make a pit stop in the bathroom.  When I walked into the ladies room, as usual there was a mom inside the stall with her child, who happened to be a boy.  No big deal, right?  If I had sons I certainly would take them into the ladies room with me when they were little too. As long as they aren't peeking under the stalls or peeing in the sinks – there is NOTHING wrong with this.   

However, as the stall door opened, I was in a little state of shock and horror that the little boy with the mother who came out of the stall had to be at least 10 or 11 years old.  It was obvious from the conversation in the stall at the time that mom was there to offer assistance in the butt wiping department.  Okay, I get it.  There are times when all kids need a little help wiping their heinies.  But at 10 or 11 years old?  In a public restroom?  

This leads to the question of when is a child too OLD?  And when should kids be left to their own devices when it comes to keeping their backsides clean? At what age is a child ready to wipe their behind (excluding times when they have stomach viruses or explosive diarrhea?)

After all, when they are at school they certainly don’t have mama around to do it for them, and washing machines today are built for erasing skid marks in the whitest of underwear, right?  

With my own children, I assisted with butt wiping until they were around 5 years old.  My daughters were very strange about wanting to be extremely clean, and would use an entire roll of toilet paper in order to do so.   (Or an entire pack of baby wipes!) So when they started doing a pretty good job at it themselves, I would be called in to "check."  Sometimes, I would do it just to get it over with more quickly when we were in a rush and they were being ‘anal' (pardon the pun) about getting their butt clean.  And, I always have made sure that my daughters didn’t just stand in the water while showering, but actually used the shower as a means to cleanliness.  

Part of potty training is teaching little girls and boys how to take care of their personal needs.  

This is also part of empowering them, and making them feel less dependent upon their parents.  There will be many times when our children will not have us around to take care of everything, and in some cases preparing them for how to handle bathroom accidents and bloopers can be a life saver.  I made a habit of hiding an extra pair of underwear in my children’s bookbags with a ziploc of wipes just in case something happened at school.  And I have told them in case of an accident, to throw their old undies away, clean themselves, and put on the new ones.  

My rule of thumb:  If a child's feet can reach the floor when they sit on the toilet – they should be old enough to wipe their own butt.  

Thinking back, I – like most moms – have probably wiped other people's butts more than I have wiped my own.  When this era of motherhood came to an end, I breathed an enormous sigh of relief.  From time to time, my 6 year old still requires assistance, and I am happy to give it to her.  However, I am even happier that she is learning to be an independent person who is able to handle personal issues.  

So!  What say you?  When did you stop wiping your child's butt?  And at what age do you think children should be able to handle this on their own?

Image via iStock

What do you think?

Butt-Wiping 101

Stef Daniel is the 40ish year old, experienced (meaning crazy already) mother of count ‘em…4 daughters (yes, she takes prayers) who have taught her nearly E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G she needs to know about raising kids and staying sane. She hails from a small town in Georgia where she lives with her family in a red tin roofed house (with just ONE bathroom mind you) on a farm - with tons of animals of course. One day, due to her sheer aversion to shoes and her immense lov ... More

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  1. Profile photo of stacy stacy says:

    My partner still wipes her ten year olds butt. Every time she poops she screams for her mother to come. The last time I heard my partner say that soon she would not be doing that anymore. Daughter then said, mom I would wipe your butt for you, even if you had diarrhea. This child cannot complete a shower or get a snack without assistance. Also partner stays in bed with her every night for 1 hr or more, sometimes falling asleep and not coming to bed for hours. I feel this is helicopter parenting and is not doing the child any good.

  2. Profile photo of Grace Grace says:

    some people you just don’t know- my sis-in-law when visiting me 2 years ago showered then got butt naked in front of her son then 9- asking my daughters to leave the room while she got dressed in front of him- needless to say i was apauled my spouse kept saying oh we came from a different culture (uh no- she came to america at 8, even being raised differently there still comes a time when its NOT ok)

  3. Profile photo of Grace Grace says:

    and when curious why not ask, i’m personally not one to care if others think i’m rude, if i wonder i ask….

  4. Profile photo of Grace Grace says:

    i had never even thought of it before, i guess when they could i let them… i do make sure with showers or baths that they are doing ok

  5. Profile photo of renee200823 renee200823 says:

    wow.. maybe the little boy was disabled mentally or was very lazy, or just a tall 5 year old? we make my daughter wash with water and dry with toilet paper.. its alot cleaner but at 5 years old we still have to teach her a little when it comes to pooping.

  6. Profile photo of SnuggleBugs SnuggleBugs says:

    It makes you think of all the possibilities why this child is incapable of cleaning himself. Is the mother so attached she "babied" him? Or is this child just lazy? The list can go on and on but I’m going to select the "I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation for this". My son is 10 weeks old I’m sure I have a lot of but wiping in my future. As soon as I feel he can grasp the idea of using a potty chair we’ll learn to wipe also. Fun times ahead.

  7. Profile photo of kimberly2014 kimberly2014 says:

    Children need to have their independence. They don’t need their mother’s still wiping their butts while being ten years old. Maybe the mother has a hard time of letting her child grow up.

  8. Profile photo of KJEs mommy KJEs mommy says:

    I agree that children moving on to using the restroom on their own is very good for their independence and self esteem however the circumstances of this situation are not known and if this boy was delayed I’m amazed by a mothers love to still wipe him if indeed that’s the case but I try not to assume or judge anyone’s parenting methods and leave it in gods hands to ease my mind.

  9. Profile photo of Danielle Danielle says:

    I like and appreciate the info and advice that you have given on "butt wiping", but can we please just leave it at that–advice and not criticize other people for what they do? You don’t know their situation or where they’ve been or what they’re going through. Life is hard enough to figure out with out other people criticizing their every move.

  10. at 10 you’re going through puberty.. you’re having sexual feelings and this was his mom not his dad. i highly doubt he initiated getting his butt wiped at 10 years old, unless of course he is developmentally delayed, then it’s perfectly fine.

  11. Sorry Heather but I don’t find seeing my own 10 year olds butt disturbing. I have to wonder about anyone that would be disturbed by that. I am not saying that they should be walking around naked at 10, or having their butts’ wiped without good reason, but *stuff* happens. They may need a towel or have a hygiene issue or even just a question about something on their body that is changing. I pray every day that my kids know they can come to me in times like that and trust me to not make a big issue of it or make them feel uncomfortable.

  12. he had to of been developmentally delayed.. either that or his mom was a complete nut job molester. parents should not even be seeing their 10 year olds butts. that’s seriously disturbing.

  13. Profile photo of Sarah Sarah says:

    I’m working on the potty training with my little guy right now(he’s 2) and we use the flush wipes and will try to wipe his butt even when he hasn’t pooped. I would really like for him to poop in his potty before we start the wipeing aspect of things but at least he knows what to do.


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