With every milestone and every new accomplishment done we, as parents, feel relieved and proud that our babies are moving smoothly from one stage to the other. The minute we finish with one achievement we start thinking of the following one. Potty training could be the most tedious and stressful deed to parents, especially if the child is not ready for it yet.
Our society puts a lot of pressure on the parents and the child where they expect him to be potty trained as earlier as possible. While some toddlers accomplish this task at around 24 months, others struggle and might even continue wearing a diaper till the age of 4 years.
In the French system, for example, if a 3 year old child has continuous accidents in the classroom, he/she would have to stay at home until he/she is potty trained. The American system on the other hand does not accept students below the age of four where they can guarantee that this phase has been done and over with.
Friends, relatives, and grandparents start with their nosy questions as to whether or not the child still wears a nappy. As a mother – especially a first time mommy – you might feel overwhelmed and wonder what you need to do to help your child get rid of the diaper as fast as possible. And so you start surfing the net and you try all those magical steps of 7 Easy Ways to Potty Training or Successful Potty Training in 3 Days etcetera..
Girls are potty-trained earlier than boys, and most people relate it due to the physical development of a girl where she can feel that she is having a bowel movement. This does not really apply to all children as my second son was potty trained at 13 months of age. Yes that early! So there is an exception to every rule.
First of all, as a parent you should know that there is no perfect or correct age for potty training. Each child is different and his/her readiness depends on biological, psychological, and emotional factors. It is very significant to know that the age when the child masters potty training has nothing to do with intelligence or future abilities as many parents suppose.
You can try pre-potty training simply to encourage your child and to have him/her get used to the idea. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the child will be trained faster.
With my first son, I was delighted when he started showing signs at 15 months and I took advantage of the situation and encouraged him. After a few weeks of consistent practice, I thought we made it. Unfortunately, for some reasons, he regressed and started having accidents, and then he simply stopped thinking about going to the toilet all together.
I tried everything my hands came on to have him proper again, but my trials went in vain. First of all, I tried around five different styles of potties until I came across one that looked like a giraffe and was very practical for boys. Then, I bought him a very interesting book named The Potty Book For Boys by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. The book included a stuffed toy boy who had a diaper along with his teddy, and a potty. We used to read the story, act it out using the characters, and try to follow in with the steps in real life.
When that approach was not very successful, I printed out charts for him and had a sticker every time we succeeded in avoiding accidents. He soon got bored of all those stickers.
I felt frustrated that I even tried bribing him with M&M’s and candy, but my son would not collaborate. Here, it is important to mention that as a new mom I didn’t know any better, but bribing, especially with candy, is not a proper parenting method as it communicates the message that it is acceptable to eat unhealthy stuff – but that is beyond the scope of this article.
At that time, my second son was almost four months, I knew I was simply putting a lot of pressure on myself and on him, and this had to stop. Otherwise, I would go crazy. Eventually, my elder son succeeded in wearing underpants again even though he continued to have a few accidents every now and then. Note that he had a dry diaper all night ever since he was 15 months of age. This helped me in understanding that he had no physical weakening in controlling himself and that helped me realize that he simply needed more time.
With my second and third boys, I didn’t even consider putting the anxious effort in trying to have them potty trained. They both looked up to their brother and took the good habit from him. Of course, I set a schedule where I would gently remind them to sit on the potty for a wee every half an hour, and from their facial expressions I could tell when there was a bowel movement.
So we would simply rush again to the toilet. Seeing how their brother made it to the toilet made them realize the concept early, and once a child is ready to be potty trained it usually takes a week or even less.
Nowadays, I am at a stage where I could potty train my twins, and the differences in readiness to be clean are astonishing. For instance, my baby girl started to show me signs that she needs to poo when she was around 10 months of age, where as her twin brother doesn’t even care if he takes a wee anytime and anywhere he feels like it.
The bottom line behind this article is to tell you my dear readers that the more worried we are about parenting stuff, the harder and more complicated things get. By nature, God has perfectly created this astounding machine, which we call the human body. If we truly understand our children’s development and we know where their level of maturity and readiness are, we will help them accomplish great milestones with pleasure.
In summary, I can brief it down to the following points:
- Yes you will have accidents.
- Yes you will feel frustrated when the floors are clean and then your child feels that it is the best place to have his bowel movement take place right there.
- Be consistent and set a certain schedule for the child as it might help. For example, a mom can start by having the child sit in the mornings on his/her potty until the child feels he/she does not want to sit anymore. She can try again around noon time if the first trial was not successful.
- At the beginning it is quite difficult and you feel that the only two words you use often are pee and poo. But that is only natural and part of growing up.
- Praise your child for succeeding but do not exaggerate.
- Do not show your frustration as kids are smart and they know how to take advantage of this amusing situation.
- Do not be affected by the society’s harsh comments, “Oh my he still wears a nappy!!” They only make you feel bad about yourself and your child.
In conclusion, you are the only person whom your child looks up to. In delicate situations you need to be spiritually positive about it. Note however, if you have any doubts and feel that there is a physical or psychological hindrance, do not hesitate to consult your paediatrician or seek any other professional help.
What is something you wish you knew about potty training? It would be interesting to know about your experience on this matter as we can always learn from each other.
On the Internet there are many helpful sites that you can check.
Below is a link to an entertaining song called the “Potty Song” which I came across;
And for more details on potty training check this website which I found helpful for parents:
sticker image taken from: familycrafts.about.com
girl on potty: ehow.com