To toilet train or not to?
So the whole toilet training thing is something I’m quite laid back about. Being an ECE teacher, I’ve learnt lots from that perspective both theory wise and then the practical working with lots of kids. Then of course I have my own experience as a mama. To be honest, I actually don’t like the term ’toilet training’ because like anything children learn to do, they will learn in their own time. It’s interesting that we don’t say we’re ‘food training’ or ‘walk training’ – get my drift!
Right now Rakeiora is 3 1/2 years old and started using the toilet around 2 years old. He’s been fully using the toilet since he was about 2 1/2 which included wearing undies at night as well. Now of course every child is different, so just because this was his journey, doesn’t mean it will be the same for every child, or even for Haeata. No doubt it will be different! But just so you know where I’m coming from.
So these would be my top tips when you’re thinking about toileting for your little one:
- Recognition is key – by this I mean, a child needs to recognise their own bodily functions first and foremost – when they feel a ‘wee’ or ‘poo’ coming. So even when your little one is a baby, start talking about this with them. You don’t have to do this every time, but by pointing it out, they will soon pick it up. By the time they get older, they will no doubt start telling you what they are doing – celebrate this! Not over the top, but acknowledge it – ‘Oh you’re doing a wee’ for example. Basically what you’re doing is giving them the words for what is going on with their body.
- Let them watch how the toilet process works – letting your child come to the toilet with you is actually a good thing – a good learning thing for them that is (but forget your privacy!) So when you need to go, verbalise it! Let them know out loud and then go. Talk to them about what you’re doing during each part of the process. This might sound ridiculous but trust me – like the first point, you’re basically giving them instructions for what to do. Have your partner do this to – the more role models the better. They may want to just sit on the toilet with their bottoms on, which is good. This is all part of the familiarisation process.
- Encourage them to use it – once they’re at the stage where they can tell you something is coming, encourage them to go to the toilet. If they don’t want to, no worries, just ask them again next time. Eventually, they will say yes.
- Celebrate success – so when they do actually go and use the toilet, give them a high five! Or however you want to congratulate them. I would keep this up for the initial period until it becomes normal. Kids love knowing they’ve done well, and even more so if it’s coming from one of their number ones 😉 I find this works so much better than any actual reward system. The ‘reward’ of course is that they have gone to the toilet and they’ve done it themselves!
- Remember accidents happen – believe it or not, your child having an accident is actually a good thing. They need to feel this sensation of what it feels like when they don’t have a nappy on and aren’t using the toilet. My son in particular, really didn’t like the wet feeling down his leg, or when he woke up at night wet. So that for him, was a pretty good motivator to use the toilet. And when they do have an accident, don’t make a big deal of it, it is an ‘accident’ of course so just acknowledge it. Something like, ‘Oh you’ve wet your pants, let’s clean you up and get changed, let’s try using the toilet next time’.
- Keep it positive – the more upbeat you can make this whole experience for them, the better. If it becomes something stressful or negative for them, they’re less likely to want to go and more likely to have accidents. Basically, the whole process will take longer! Buy their first lot of undies together for example, make it fun.
And just remember, all children will get it some day, some earlier than others. Though it’s helpful to have them out of nappies early (less money and/or less washing – I get it!) for some, they just aren’t ready when you want them to be. But don’t sweat it, I’m sure you won’t have a teenager who is still in nappies!