Toilet Training Blues



This is the tiny lady’s potty. It has a sad air of neglect to it. It sits unused and unloved since the day it was purchased. There was an initial burst of enthusiasm after said purchase. It required some assembly (which mama didn’t realise at the time). It took about an hour and a few cross words between mama and dada to get it right. Our little lady helped by grabbing screws just when they were needed and jamming them in places they weren’t supposed to go. She was thrilled. We were less so. But one very sweaty hour later we had a potty. She sat on it a few times before completely losing interest.

So everyday when I am about to tackle her through yet another nappy change I ask would she like to use her potty. The answer is always a resounding ‘NO!’.

Knowing my daughter as I do I don’t push. A great way to get her to not do something is to make her think it’s something you really want. She will just dig her heels in and refuse to bend. I like the fact she has such a strong sense of self; I just wish she would give me a break once in a while.

This morning I asked myself why am I pushing this toilet training thing so much? She only turned two last month. There’s no rush. Yet, like many parents, the minute her second birthday party was over I was pressuring us both to get her out of nappies. I think we all just buy into the myth that when a child turns two they are ready to begin toilet training. And some children are. But many children are not. And our rush to get them there may even lead to future complications such as constipation and bed-wetting.

While researching the whole toilet training dilemma I came across Janet Lansbury’s website who emphasises the importance of a less rigid approach. Allow your child access to the potty or toilet. Ask if they would like to go. If they say no just move on don’t push it. To me this seems like a pretty awesome way to go about something which can cause such heartache for parents and children.

Having worked with many toilet training children over the years I noted that quite often the slightly older children took to it more easily than the younger ones. I do remember promising myself I would wait until my tiny lady was at least two and a half before I started…why didn’t I remember this before now? Well she takes to new ideas quickly and she is also very independent (sometimes unbearably so). I figured she would embrace her potty whole-heartedly. However, after some intensive googling I found that no correlation between intelligence and early potty training has been found. A relief to those of us who struggle with the more reluctant trainers.

If you go online (like I did) you will find proponents of both sides; some will say earlier is better and some advocate a later start. The real clue I think is to wait until your child is really really ready. Don’t feel pressure just because you think your child ‘should’ be ready. They will do it in their own time and at their own pace. Don’t worry they won’t be wearing nappies in college and you might save yourself a lot of stress just by waiting it out.

So our potty will sit unloved for another while at least. Some day the tiny lady will be  ready but that day isn’t today and that’s okay by me.


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