Whether you refer to it as potty training, toilet training, or anything else, it’s mind boggling for our little people and us adults it would seem! The internet is full of advice – web searches, blog posts, online groups. In all honesty I thought I didn’t require support, initially shunning the resources, wondering what all the fuss was about, we’d done it once before! My latest blog reveals how wrong I was, along with my top tips for ‘How (not) to Potty Train’!
It’s fair to say, as a stay at home parent this time around, I found the experience of toilet training more arduous than expected; a battle of wills, for which I was naively underprepared. My patience was tested but sanity prevailed safe in the knowledge that, however it happened, my youngest would graduate the milestone (despite questioning this on occasion, when the washing machine begged for mercy).
First time around, working full time, our eldest woke up one day and just decided ‘big boy pants’ were the way forward; the transition no doubt eased by nursery facing the battles rather than us. Hence the ‘naivety’, second child around. I plucked at least one handful of new white hairs from my eyebrows within a week of commencing training! (Yes I know, these will be replenished with two handfuls, will I ever learn?!)
Unlike in the workplace, my current ‘appraisal’ as a stay at home mother is founded purely upon getting the parenting elements correct and I don’t seem to have had time to read the training manuals. Within this performance section, success was measured simply by waste products ending up in the appropriate receptacle – not my own, I should add! Ultimately relying on teamwork, with my miniature co-worker buying into the ‘plan’, working with, rather than against me (ok, so perhaps there are some similarities to the workplace). Simple enough surely?…
Well, it’s fair to say Bubbins struggled to buy into the features and benefits, despite employing my best selling tactics. Cue many a vocal head to head, mostly due to an unfounded fear of waste products making their natural exit. The result being one very stressed out mummy trawling the internet in search of the answers to our struggles, sincerely regretting having not read the manuals! Turns out there are no golden rules, one size clearly does not fit all, and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sold myself on all the ‘supposedly’ helpful suggestions.
Cue my vague guide on ‘How (not) to potty train a little person’, including the advice I ignored and why, based on very recent experience…
Wait until they are ready.
Biggest fallacy out there, the concept that they will do it ‘when they are ready’! Bubbins had never once told us he needed a wee and never recognised any such motion hence I had believed he was not ‘ready’. I rapidly discovered that irrespective of trying to address underlying unwillingness/fear, clever little minds soon establish that pointing out such needs results in immediate disruption of fun! Had we truly waited for signs of readiness, we’d never have started!
Avoid periods of change.
This I did adhere to, there is no point compounding the stress. I would have waited longer had I not felt guilt tripped into starting by a health care professional, who gently pointed out that at 3yrs 2mths old we should at least be trying! Turns out they were right but I won’t admit to being completely wrong, mum is always right after all ‘wink wink’, too much stress and change at one time is evidently not good for little ones.
Get acquainted with the potty.
We had no issues with fear of the receptacle but Bubbins found the toilet less alien than the potty; a relief to my mind, as I couldn’t face trudging the huge germ ridden thing out with us every time we left the house. Fear of the bathroom was not a concern for us either thankfully, thus avoiding having to do all the games/songs/stories etc just to get him through the door (you really can find anything on the internet). The fear of bodily motions making their exit however was a big stumbling block and sadly took a bit of stern parenting to get him to see that they wouldn’t hurt!
Create a sticker chart.
This idea was binned by Bubbins…Most children love a good sticker and can be highly motivated by a sticker chart but Bubbins clearly wasn’t incentivised by such practices. He scribbled all over the chart and adorned the paper with beautiful train pictures – I think I preferred his take on it! He did however find a chocolate button a great incentive. Have to say I can’t blame him!
Let them choose their own pants.
They encourage you to do this to get them ‘invested’ in the process, but I objected, seeing as he already had 30 odd pairs of little pants in his drawer! I definitely couldn’t bare the refusal to wear nothing other than the newly purchased pants. The potential tantrums and frequency of washing were more than enough to make me struggle on!
Let them roam naked.
This may seem like a bright idea, somewhat easier over summer but invariably I found this teaches very little. They don’t experience the feeling of underwear, or the sensation of being uncomfortably wet. We’d tried a couple of attempts over Summer, with no success. All I discovered was that you get delightful puddles and presents everywhere. Third time lucky, I found it significantly less painful to fully dress him, no less washing, just clothes instead of towels and more importantly mess was contained, winner!
I failed. Dismally. Calm I could be when faced with endless changes of clothes but the irrational fear of passing urine I really struggled with. I couldn’t figure a way around it and despite seeking it far and wide, there didn’t appear to be much in the way of advice. Bubbins would desperately hold everything in (for seven hours one day) terrified to ‘go’, only releasing everything when in a bundle of tears – having to shout at him to get him to wee was a real parenting low for me! Thankfully it was relatively short lived and he doesn’t appear to hate me for being a cross mummy.
Now for something I never read about, yet it proved to be a real turning point for us…
Make it relatable.
After several days spent tearing my hair out, imagining an eternity of toilet related screaming matches, I had an epiphany! In appraisal terms, I went above and beyond! It came after what felt like the twentieth trip to the toilet for the elusive number two, when I found myself begging “Just get Toby out of the tunnel, pleaseeeee!”…and as if by some sweet motherly magic, it worked! I appreciate this specific phrase won’t work for everyone, but the theory behind it, discovering the unique selling point for your child is the key element here – in our case a totally and utterly obsessed, cheeky tank engine fan. I still query my sanity as I repeat these euphemisms (they must sound bizarre in public toilets) but it became abundantly clear to me that relating a scary process to the fondly familiar made it much more amenable and less stressful all round. I just wish I’d thought of it sooner and could patent it!
I cannot promise you’ll succeed having perused (and possibly put into practice) my vague guide but I’ve tried to cut through the proverbial for those just starting out or pulling out grey hairs, so that you don’t have to. Three weeks on, I think I can safely say we’ve triumphed. Purely based on the lack of underwear soaking in my utility room! Our success feels all the more sweet after having initially been so underprepared and latterly driven so potty! In summary, my appraisal looks great, my stress levels, nappy bill and carbon footprint have reduced and I get to enjoy the bonus of an adorable squishy little bottom to pat day after day. A great perk of the job if you ask me!
Did you go potty like me? What clever suggestions did you discover for success in Potty Training?
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