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?
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