Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nine things I wish I knew before toilet training kicked my butt



I'm not sure toilet training is any one's idea of fun. It's certainly not mine, although there are moments of hilarity and crazy, crazy laughter because if you can't laugh about the amount of wee on the carpet and the poo you've got to scrub off the undies, well, you'd probably cry.

We've been very relaxed about it, led by him because he was entirely uninterested in it and then, once he showed an interest, entirely disconnected from sensing his own body's needs. Then one day, at child care, he refused to put his pull-up on. Refused and demanded his Thomas undies that had been languishing at the bottom of his bag for months (hey, if they ain't used/dirty, don't mess with them). I was completely unprepared for it.

Now he suddenly looks like he's joined the Romanian gymnastics team, a little boy in a much bigger boy's body.

We have days with no accidents and days when I carry four plastic bags of wet clothes out of the child care. We have days with him jumping up and running to the bathroom by himself and days when I ask him if he needs to go and he looks at me for a minute and then shakes his head and a puddle forms at his feet (and inside his shoes).

Here are some things I wish I'd known or considered before we started:

  1. Go straight for a kid-seat on a big toilet (or just get them to use the big one from the get go). Cleaning poo out of a potty is a horror show much worse than simply changing a nappy.
  2. Not all undies are created equal. The size and cut varies wildly between brands and sizing for a little bum no longer in bulky nappies is confusing. If they're not comfy, it's going to set you back. If they don't have the right picture on the front, they might be rejected out of hand. Also, while super cute, the little shorts style undies don't do such a great job of holding anything in that may have accidently come out. Just sayin'.
  3. Elastic waisted shorts or pants are much easier for little kids than zips and buttons when they're in a hurry.
  4. Think about what might motivate your child and what you're prepared to do (or not do) to encourage them; then be prepared to use it at any time. We hadn't given it any thought before hand and ended up jumping straight into simple games on the tablet while he sat on the potty. This, of course, turned into 'hey I want to play games and not pee'. After this we moved to a sticker/reward chart (it's a Lightning McQueen potty race and when he gets to the end of the race, he gets to pick from my Piston Cup prize bag, in which I've got a few little toys, some craft things, a drink bottle, etc that I picked up in the after Christmas sales). This has had varied success for us - sometimes he just couldn't give a rat's arse about getting another sticker. In hindsight, I suspect a non-reward approach would have worked just as well.  
  5. Think about technique. Wiping a child's bum is very different from changing a dirty nappy. Do you use toilet paper or wipes? Are they leaning forward on the potty or bending over and touching their toes? Are you going to teach them to pee standing up first or wait til they're older? How exactly are you going to clean the potty? How are you going to handle visiting other toilets? Will they pee on the grass? Figuring out all of this stuff on the go is both horrific and hilarious.
  6. One pack of undies isn't going to cut it. Unless you can wash and dry those babies in a day, get several packs.
  7. Don't push them to get toilet trained too early and try not to compare. Almost all the girls in Dear Boy's class were ready by about two. His best mate from mum's group decided he was ready at two and a half. Dear Boy's three and a bit. Some kids in his group are still in nappies, others are in pull-ups. Some are dry through the night. Pushing too early can have the opposite effect and lead to a long, drawn out power battle. We had enough of that with his eating and his sleep, so I want to skip it here if possible.
  8. Listen to their bodies and help them listen too. Think about their diet and activities and how these correlate to when they need to use the toilet. If they have a big drink or a meal, you can't put them in the car half an hour later and expect to keep the seat clean. Make opportunities to use the potty happen at the right time and get them to stop and think about what their body feels like. Is there pressure in the bladder? Are those farts trying to tell them something? These conversations are hilarious. Our son of a neuroscientist has gone straight to 'Mum, my brain says I feel fine' - technically correct but unhelpful.
  9. Make sure you're being consistent across the board. We've been wiping for him but childcare don't, which has led to a few surprises for everyone (and lots of washing). Some centres have toilet training policies you have to follow, others might go with whatever method you'd like. Just have the discussion.
What's your toilet training advice? Any tried and true methods?

18 comments :

  1. It is amazing just how quick you forget about toilet training. we must have some kind of natural amnesia to it like we do with childbirth lol xx

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  2. Oh man, I am just at the point where I should start considering training my 20 month old. He is showing interest - happy to sit on the loo and sometimes pulls his nappy down and indicates he might go but never has. I'm not sure whether to just allow him to keep going as he is and eventually he'll figure it out or say okay no more nappies lets do this like I did with his big brother. It's all ugly. Took us a long time with our first. Many shits on the carpet and jocks thrown out because I just couldn't stomach cleaning up another pair of underwear. These tips have reminded me of a few things (that I'd probably happily forgotten) so I'm starting to get my head sorted ready! One tip: with my eldest food was the best reward and motivation for him. We used to give him a "lolly" when he did a wee - the lolly was actually a kiddy vitamin jube! And a scoop of ice cream when he did a poo. Probably not in the parenting books but it worked!

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    1. Maybe ice cream might work here too. The poo on the potty seems to be a bridge too far here at the moment. He's been scared off and I'm really not sure how to get past it. Blerg.

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  3. Replies
    1. I wish someone had told me about no 1 beforehand! Kicking myself now that we'll have to deal with the potty and then the big toilet as well.

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  4. I'm still kid-free, and I think toilet-training sounds crazy-hard!

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    1. It was always the one thing I was seriously not looking forward to.

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  5. Ha ha!! Technique has just come to the forefront here with regard to the wiping part. My 3.5 YO has just started kinder and all of a sudden the other day I thought, 'shit matey, you're gonna have to wipe your own arse now'. so now we practice and then I check of course. And then I tell him its only 2 1/2 hrs at kinder and that he could try and hold on til you get home..ha ha!! Currently he likes to take ALL his clothes off and then tends to lean out, nearly fall off the toilet while I wipe him clean. NOT a good look! We'll get there….I have a 2yo in waiting…Give me strength!

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    1. No one tells you you have to teach them wiping techniques! Or have to figure out how to wipe their butts while standing! This is what I need a class for, not labor pain management techniques.

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  6. Toilet training is a whole new world, isn't it?? You go from being ick about poo, to watching your finger go through the toilet paper when wiping and not batting an eyelid. There's so much to consider- great list! We definitely went straight to the toilet, my girls didn't want a bar of the potty. At first I was a bit like 'huh?' and then when I thought of the poo sitcho, I suddenly turned to 'ahhh'

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    1. I am trying to convince Dear Boy of all the benefits of going on the toilet (or even the potty) - like it drops away and you don't have to sit in it! Will be so glad when he's going and wiping on his own.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this. I think I'd forgotten everything from our first boy and we're about to start on our little man soon x

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    Replies
    1. Good luck! Hopefully your experience with your first will hold you in good stead.

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  8. Hooooooo booooooy, I am on the verge of all this with boy number two and I am in massive denial. Thanks for the timely and hilarious reminder! Loved this post.

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    1. Unfortunately, denial doesn't stop the poonamis. Hope it all goes quickly for you with number two(s).

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  9. Ahahahah thank you for sharing this! We are JuSt going through (the horror that is) toilet training. We've had lots of progress in the last week but the first few days were HELL (see bit.ly/toilettrainingsucks).
    My advice? Don't forget to stock up on rewards/treats for mum and dad. God knows the adults need applause too.

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    Replies
    1. That's a good plan. This would be a good time to take up drinking.

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