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Help! My son is not getting toilet trained

My son is 4.3 years old and uses his potty seat to urinate whereas he demands a diaper to poop. I have tried rewarding him with goodies to use the potty for both purposes but he refuses. How can I toilet-train him?
— Divya Manvik, Pune

There’s no need to worry. Toddlers gradually get toilet trained. However, what you should worry about is this shouldn’t lead to him suffering constipation or encopresis. Use an adult toilet with a soft/colourful seat (toddler seats can be placed on top of adult commodes). This will make it more attractive for him. Also, encourage your son to sit on the pot at set intervals during the day.

My eight-year-old daughter overreacts to loud noise and sounds. I live in a neighbourhood close to an open ground where they often ignite firecrackers and my daughter is petrified by the loud sounds. Could she be suffering from a sensory processing disorder? What steps should I take to alleviate this problem?
— Meenakshi Valli, Chennai

Diagnosis of sensory processing disorder (SPD) requires standardised auditory tests and detailed clinical observations together with a parent report checklist. SPD can be a standalone disorder or associated with autism spectrum disorders. Early medical intervention in SPD leads to better neuro-development outcomes in children.
From what you have described, I suspect it may be an isolated hypersensitivity response to the sound of firecrackers but it needs to be evaluated by a development pediatrician. The pediatrician will determine if she is suffering spatial disorientation, tactile or other sensory hyper/hypo stimulation and performing routine tasks in an uncoordinated way.

My four-year-old is physically active and playful. However, his class teacher says he lacks interest in writing and that he has not attained the maturity expected of his age. I don’t know whether the teacher is being insensitive or whether he is really unable to write like other children. Please advise.
— Vinodini Parth, Bangalore

Writing needs fine motor, tactile, cognitive and language skills development. Children develop these skills at different speeds. Therefore every four-year-old cannot be expected to display the same degree of skill or maturity, and they cannot be compared with each other. A four-year-old child is expected to write letters/numbers separately, may write their name, and draw pictures or objects. If you don’t see improvement after trying to help him improve his writing skills, and allowing a few months to pass, you should consult a pediatrician for further evaluation.

(Dr. Shalu Jain is a consultant pediatrician & neonatologist, Femiint Health Care, Bangalore)

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