How should I teach my child to use public bathrooms?

Q: How should I teach my child to use the potty away from home?

A: After your child masters the art of going potty at home, he needs to learn how to handle it in the real world -- public bathrooms, going when you're not around, etc. Teach your child to recognize restroom signs, and encourage him to use public bathrooms whenever necessary. (Any child under the age of 5 should be accompanied by an adult when using a public restroom.) Your child should also know how to dress and undress. Boys should learn how to use their pants fly front. To simplify these lessons, dress your child in clothes that can easily be undone without help, like elastic-waist pants or shorts. You should also teach proper wiping -- front-to-back -- especially for girls. Going the other way can cause urinary-tract or bowel infections. Your child will also need to learn how to plan his bathroom breaks, like going before a long trip, even if he doesn't feel a strong need at the time. --Karin A. Bilich

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