Motivating children using transanal irrigation (TAI)

December 7 2017

For a child living with bowel dysfunction, life can be difficult, but there is an effective solution to voiding that doesn't involve chemicals, surgery or medication and reduces the risk of accidents. But how do you motivate your child using transanal irrigation?


Living with bowel problems can be difficult, affecting not only the child, but the family unit too. Many parents with a child suffering from bowel dysfunction struggle for far too long without finding an effective method for emptying the bowel, using dietary and stool (poo) changing medication, like laxatives or stool thickeners. But there is a better solution available.

Transanal Irrigtation - TAI - is a successful therapy for many children living with bowel dysfunction. TAI restores a healthy bowel routine, and helps your child to regain control of when and where they go to the toilet. After an initial training period, the possibility of an accident eventually disappears, and both you and your child can start living life without constantly worrying about bowel and toilet needs.

However, TAI may feel strange or intimidating in the beginning, and it may take some time to get it right. The stomach and bowel are complicated, intergrated systems, and they need time to adjust to new routines and rythmns. But it has proven to be effective it in the long run.

How does TAI work?

TAI is a method free from drugs or chemical use of any sort, and is a good long-term solution that does not require invasive surgery. Transanal irrigation is a technique for effectively emptying the bowel. It promotes evacuation of the stool from the rectum and lower part of the colon by passing water into the bowel.

TAI is carried out by instillation of water into the rectum via a rectal catheter. When the catheter is removed water and poo come out. But TAI is not a quick fix.


It is important to have realistic expectations of what TAI can do for your child and how long it may take to achieve satisfactory results. An initial commitment of up to 4–12 weeks is necessary in order to stabilize the bowel, to find your child’s optimal treatment parameters and to develop a good individualized defecation routine.

As a parent you are the most important factore in your child’s success with TAI. Motivation, patience, long-term commitment and structured daily routines will help your child succeed. It is important that you and your partner know what it takes to succeed and have talked it through before you begin. Mental and emotional preparation are key. Talk to your child about the therapy, how long it takes and the committment required during the training period.
Setting up a goal is something that often works well, for both the parents and child.

Training is key

For some children it may feel scary or uncomfortable to insert the catheter, for others it’s not an issue at all. For some children, who have had longstanding constipation, when they first experience the peristalsis (movement of the bowel) with the water pushing the poo out it can be perceived as unpleasant. With reassurance and support these initial fears and concerns soon disappear.

TAI saves time for almost all users, compared to other bowel management strategies such as stool altering medications. However, for the child, the procedure can still be perceived as time consuming. The instillation is fairly quick, but it can take between 10-30 min for the poo to come out. Distracting your child with things they like to do, for example toys, a tablet or a book, is good. You can also let your child be involved in the procedure, such as checking the water volume on the scale of the container.

Children's Kits

To help your child become familiar with TAI and remove the stigma around bowel dysfunction, we've created these fun activity offers, available to order now, for free!

navina for children kits for children.png

Choose between two different comics, an activity book, crayons, stickers, pen and keyring - or just get all of them. Tick the boxes in the form and place you order now!

  • Jimmy & Linda Build a Rocket Ship Comic
  • Do it your way Comic (for older children)
  • Become a Navina Star - Activity Book
  • Keyring
  • Stickers
  • Pen
  • Crayon

Order your Children's Kit here!


Topics: Transanal irrigation (TAI), Children and TAI