Baby News

Potty Training - An Experience

Friday 4th of January 2013  |  Category: Baby News  |  Written by: Alice Edwards

With the arrival of a new year and its accompanying resolutions and promises to self, you might decide it's time to throw off the manacles of nappies and be done with the nightmare of trying to squeeze into a public toilet cubicle to change your child's nappy on a less-than-sanitary looking changing table, and start potty training. I have a cautionary tale to tell. Like most parents out there, we think of our child as clever, gifted and advanced for her age. So at the age of 22 months, we decided she was ready for potty training. We excitedly bought our daughter a pink potty (she is obsessed with the colour pink, despite my husband and I trying to veer her towards other colours, as our living room now looks like Barbie's dreamhouse). We researched different types of potty, and chose a 'pourty' potty, after reading good reviews about it.

Our daughter initially loved her potty; she wanted to sit on it all the time. She sat down on it to read books, watch her favourite TV programme, she even tried to eat her snacks while sat on it (this isn't recommended, for obvious reasons!) She even used it to actually go to the toilet in, making us think how easy potty training was! However, her initial success was short-lived, and after a week she decided she preferred to go to the 'toilet' standing wherever she was. I can't blame her really, it is a bit inconvenient having to stop what you're doing every time you need the loo, and when you're wearing a nappy, you can just go there and then and don't even feel it, such is the absorbency powers of the disposable nappy.

This might just be my daughter's way of asserting her independence, after all, she is almost 2 years old now and seems to have deemed herself fully grown-up and capable of looking after herself. I suspect that she knows full well that she is supposed to go to the toilet in the potty, but has chosen to do it on the floor as a lifestyle choice. This suspicion was confirmed when after another puddle of pee appeared on the floor, I gently said 'the place to wee is on your potty, not on the floor', and she shook her head, said 'wee on floor' and then smiled her cheeky smile at me.

When is the right time?

Persuading your child to use the potty effectively is a hard line to tread, as any recrimination toddlers on their pottiescould be bad for your child. Every parent knows you shouldn't ever make your child feel bad about natural bodily functions or little 'accidents', and accidents are bound to happen. Parents are terrified of making a scene out of any accidents (even when they are not 'accidents' at all but blatant defiance of the potty training rules their parents are trying to implement) as we're told we could cause irreversible harm to our children by doing this. But when your child rejects the potty, how do you persuade them to use it while not making them feel like they've failed if they don't manage to use the potty? The most pervasive advice on this topic seems to be to wait until they are 'ready'. There is a checklist of signs that supposedly tell you your child is ready to graduate from nappies to the potty, such as staying dry for two hours at a time, or during naps, urinating a fair amount each time, disliking the feeling of wearing a wet or soiled nappy, showing an interest in the toilet, and being in a cooperative stage of behaviour. Experts also warn not to expect too much of your child, as placing too much pressure on your child can harm the potty training process, and make children more like to resist the transition.

I think my husband and I went wrong by approaching potty training half-heartedly. It sent a mixed message, as sometimes it was fine to go to the toilet in her nappy (such as when we were out and about, or at a friend or relative's house), and other times we expected her to use her potty. My advice is if you're going to do it, an all or nothing approach seems to work best. Do it when you have a week to spend at home, and can fully focus on potty training. Although many parents pride themselves on potty training their toddlers as soon as they reach two, or even before this age (and many parents do it very successfully), there's no need to rush into it if you don't think your child is ready. Most of my friends have waited until their child is two and a half to three years old, and report that their child took to potty training straight away.

It's not a lost cause!

By waiting until she was a little older or going for it wholeheartedly, we perhaps could have saved ourselves hours of carpet scrubbing, desperately hoping the stain remover we'd bought would work to save our carpets. However, I don't consider it a wasted mission, as at least our daughter is aware of what the potty and toilet is for. For all those parents who are 'half-way' there, congratulate yourselves for having laid down the groundwork for potty training, even if you haven't completely got there yet.

This is just my personal experience of potty training, I'm sure there are children who take to potty training like a dream, whatever age their parents decide to potty train them. For most parents however, potty training is likely to be a messy journey. If you're finding it tough, remember that every child gets there in the end, and don't worry if your child is taking a while to get to grips with it; experts believe some children aren't ready for potty training until they are closer to 4 years old. If you're about to start potty training your little one, do some research on how best to introduce the potty to your child, and good luck!

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