Bladder/Bowel Movement Control

Vakansietyd = Prettyd
December 10, 2021
Primitive reflexes and the development of the visual system
February 2, 2022

By Dr. Melodie de Jager

Control of bladder and bowel movement is a landmine field. It requires a sense of humor and the patience of a saint.

Why does it sometimes go wrong? 

The biggest culprits messing up the transition from nappy-to-panty are:

  • a not-ready toddler
  • a stressed/anxious child
  • a stressed/anxious, textbook/competitive parent or caregiver.

These are not the only culprits, sometimes a medical condition can mess up the transition from nappy-to-panty. For more information on related medical conditions, kindly consult with a health professional.

Primitive reflexes are nature’s recipe to prompt development in utero; to assist during birth and to ensure the infant’s survival during the first few months after birth. Primitive reflexes are tools to help with the maturation of the nervous system and use movement to strengthen brain wiring between the senses, the brain, and the muscles. The nervous system unfolds systematically when a sensation is picked up by the senses and the muscles respond without the infant having to THINK about it. Sensations are picked up by the senses and can be picked up from inside or outside the body. Inside senses (proprioceptors, vestibular system, kinesis) pick up sensations from inside the body, while outside senses (skin, nose, mouth, ears & eyes) pick up sensations from outside the body. Muscles react reflexively to the sensations by automatically executing stereotype movements, such as the Moro reflex, the Palmar or Plantar reflexes, the TLR, the ATNR, and the Spinal Galant reflex. These reflexive movements are under the control of the brain stem and as such, an infant/toddler/child has no control over his/her primitive reflexes or bodily functions.

When the nervous system has matured and the wiring has been strengthened (myelinated), primitive reflexes go to rest, and movement and bodily functions gradually become more controlled. Resting primitive reflexes pave the way for an infant to reach his/her milestones and for a toddler and child to master their bodies. Aberrant (still active) primitive reflexes, delay milestones; delay development, and are the biggest contributors to toddlers not being ready to potty train, or older children wetting or soiling their beds and clothes after the age of 3.

A child with poor sensory awareness & integration; poor spatial orientation and low muscle tone with little language and comprehension skills tend to be more prone to difficulty with bladder control (enuresis) and difficulty with the control of their bowel movement (encopresis). This is true irrespective of age.

What can I do?


  • encourage touch, massage and rhythmic movement soothes the survival response & promotes the maturing of the nervous system
  • encourage tummy time
  • encourage the sequential reaching of milestones
  • discourage skipping of milestones
  • discourage early standing before a baby is crawling competently on all fours
  • discourage any parent replacement contraptions such as supporting chairs, walking rings, and jumpers
  • regularly check the ears
  • when milestones are delayed, check the ears for fluid build-up
  • see RED ALERT when mom describes her baby as quiet and good, the baby may be under-aroused
  • encourage mom to talk with baby


Visit your Nearest Advanced Mind Moves Instructor

A visit to your nearest Advanced Mind Moves Instructor will help to determine if there are still any Primitive Reflexes Active, that might hinder Bladder and Bowel Movement Control.

Find an Instructor near you

Magical Mind Moves to stop bed-wetting

Mind Moves Antennae Adjuster

Massage both ear lobes simultaneously from top to bottom using circular movements. This move develops the near senses, auditory processing, and perception as well receptive language ability.

Mind Moves Trunk Rotator

Lie flat on the back. Spread the arms wide open and raise the knees to hip level. Slowly rock the knees to the left until the left knee touches the floor, and then to the right until the right knee touches the floor. The shoulders and lower back should stay glued to the floor. This movement strengthens the core muscles while separating the shoulder action from the hip action to promote sitting, focus, and concentration as well as bladder and bowel control.

Mind Moves to dissolve anxiety and develop confidence:

Mind Moves Rise and Shine

Fling the arms wide open while breathing in deeply and slowly.

Close the arms over the chest in a hug, breathe out deeply and slowly.

The parent may simultaneously hug from behind. This move boosts relaxation, rhythmic breathing, and a sense of well-being.

Mind Moves Massage

The child must stand upright and hole both arms 90 degrees to the side of the body. Stand behind the child and firmly trace the outline of the body from head to toe. Hold the feet for a moment before repeating 3 times.

The dignity of the child is at stake when they battle to control their bladder and bowel movement. When a parent or caregiver understands that IF THEY COULD THEY WOULD, and when they are both encouraging and patient while doing these Mind Moves, these moves have been found effective. Repeat these Mind Moves twice daily and every Mind Move three times until the child feels confident and in control.

De Jager, M. 2016. BabyGym. Johannesburg: Mind Moves Institute Publishing.

De Jager, M. 2019. brain development MILESTONES & learning. Johannesburg: Mind Moves Institute Publishing.

De Jager, M. 2020. Mind Moves – removing barriers to learning. Johannesburg: Mind Moves Institute Publishing.          

Goddard, S. 2002. Reflexes, learning & behavior. Oregon: Fern Ridge Press.


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