Toilet or potty training is a dreaded period in every parents life, no matter how experienced you are. All children are different and what works for one, it may not work for another. It can be very stressful as a parent and of course for the child too. There’s no guarantee that the choosen method will work. You might need to try and fail with a few. Or you may be lucky and pick the right one. Total bingo.
There’s a few already proven, well-known methods:
Introduce potty at early age, make it happen gradually, don’t be pushy. Potty is fun, potty is your friend. Let them try it first just sitting on it with trousers on, then just in a nappy, and finally nappy free. If they go, praise them. Eventually – though this takes a long time, I’d say MONTHS – they will learn. It is a stress free method for sure.
Go Nappy Free
You explain to your little one that on Wednesday the nappy comes off. You then watch them like a hawk in 24/7 and quickly put them on the potty when they need to go, in fact, initially in every 2 hours or so and 20 minutes after a big drink. In the meantime you also need to keep asking them, if they need to do a wee-wee. After 2 or 3 days, they gain some basic bladder control and begin to ask for sitting on the potty.
The Infant Method
I have no idea how is this possible, but apparently, some babies are able to learn how to let you know when they need to go, using different noises and sounds, just like when they are hungry. Now if you’re able to identify this signal, then you can start to take them to the toilet and voila, they’ll be (sort of) toilet trained still in their infancy. Wow. Never met anyone who has been mastered in this. Sounds very messy to me.
Now let’s jump to our story.
Las is a late talker, he has some learning difficulties and more often than not, avoids demands. He communicates his needs very well, but sitting on the toilet instead of wearing comfy nappies? I wasn’t sure.
We left it late (but not too late!), he passed three when we trained him.
At first, darling Grandma started off with the Child-Oriented method, when he spent one weekend with her. Without asking us (his parents, Grandma, please!). Don’t even get me started on this, but we then had to carry on. I think it was both good and bad in a way in the end: he was happy using the potty, read books, and started to do number twos regularly on the potty after about 6 months. But that was it. He never asked for it, he just dutifully sat on it a few times a day. He was around two and a half when we started.
Then, I bought a training toilet seat for him, and he really liked the idea of sitting on the toilet instead of the potty. Like mummy and daddy. From there on, we used a basic, cheap training seat. We still use this at home, but when we’re away, he’s happy with the regular toilet seat. He still needs help to climb on it, but he asks for help. Still, apart from number twos, no success.
I was getting nervous, as I thought he’s not getting the idea at all, happy in the nappy, left it too late, etc.
Then my window of opportunity opened. We were about to visit my parents in early summer. My parents live on the countryside in a big house. So, I thought, this is our time, two weeks away, warm weather, this little guy is going to be potty trained by the end of it. End so we did it! My proudest moment as a parent, honestly.
How did we do it?
Well, we combined the going nappy free method with a reward system. By that I rather mean plain bribery. Chocolate buttons. Yep. After every successful toilet trip, he received a chocolate button. He’s a hard nut when it comes rewarding, doesn’t really care about stickers and doesn’t understand too complicated future promises. Therefore, I used the single thing he loves but doesn’t get on a daily basis. And it worked.
Nappy off, just as I kept telling him for a week beforehand: “when we will be at Nani’s and Papi’s house, we will say bye bye to the nappy.” I took him to sit on the toilet after every big drink and in every two hours. If he resisted, I said let’s just try and gave him a book or a small toy. Which worked. When he did a wee-wee, I praised him and gave him he’s promised chocolate button. If he didn’t, I said “we’ll try it again later. But no wee-wee, no chocolate.” Keep the eyes on the prize. Kept reminding him, like “See? We tried again, and you did a wee-wee!” It may sounds too mean to some, but I think you really need to keep them focused, without being pushy.
I realised, that he’s only just gaining bladder control, he had none when we started. How? He was trying to do a wee-wee when he sat on the toilet, but told me that “it’s not coming!” And he was visibly trying. We had 2 accidents on day 3, he wasn’t even trying to get to the toilet.
More accidents. I found them a little bit disheartening. When I took him to the toilet, he did a wee-wee, but he didn’t tell me anything beforehand the accidents.
He finally asked to sit on the toilet! All by himself and being on time. He started to tell me every time he needed to go. If I asked him, he finally started to answer with yes or no.
Accidents, but only because he wasn’t asking in time due to being too busy with playing. When he got to the toilet it was a little late, but with each and every time he learned to hold it better.
Day 9 onwards
Toilet training successfully completed! We even flew home nappyless on day 14, without any accident.
Three month later. We just got rid of the night time nappies, ever since he never wet them overnight. He still has some accidents like every small child, one in a fortnight kind of.
Use cloth nappies. The conventional nappies are super absorbent, so the kiddo naturally feels very comfy in them. So comfy, that he might just prefer that to the hassle of the potty training.
With cloth nappies they can feel the wetness, make them feel uncomfortable, more willing to ask for a nappy change or to use the potty.
Find the right time. This is a hard one, because they all so different. Check the signs of readiness and don’t afraid to give it a go. You can try it a few months later again if the first attempt wasn’t successful. At the same time, don’t leave it too late. It can get harder when they passed readiness.
Do not compare. Girls not necessary pick it up quicker. Don’t think about how your mummy friends nailed it. It doesn’t matter.
Don’t let family members or other people to hurry you.Just because your mum claims that all children should be potty trained at 18 months, it might not work for you. And that’s ok.
Make a plan. Planning it in advance will help you both to be more prepared, even looking forward to it.
Talk about it. It’s good to hear other people’s stories, you might pick up some ideas and you won’t feel alone with the task.
Do try both potty and training toilet seat. For us, it would have made more sense to go straight on the training seat as that was he’s preference in the end. Some children like to have options and some control.
Let them copy you. From early age on, let them know what you’re doing when you go to the toilet. Even leave the door open. They learn by copying. There’s nothing gross about it.