I know there are thousands of blogs and internet pages dedicated to potty training a toddler, but I’m going to be honest with you, they didn’t work for me! This is a real mother’s honest account of how I toilet trained my son.
(Just a note for those who may be reading from abroad; where I refer to a ‘nappy’, this is in fact an English ‘diaper’. A diaper that gets thrown in the rubbish rather than the garbage and prefers a warm cup of tea over a coffee!)
Toilet training was awful for me, and it certainly didn’t happen in the 3 days that a lot of blogs and sites promise you it will. It took about 3 months!! And I still haven’t completed the whole process!
The difference between toilet and potty training is teaching your child to use a potty before they use the toilet, or teaching your child to use the toilet straight away. Since I want an easier life, I decided I would teach Chicco to use the toilet straight away. Why prolong the torture?! I bought a soft padded toilet seat that basically sits on the toilet, making it more comfortable and an easier fit. I let Chicco pick his own, so he would be more likely to use it.
Toilet training is really a three stage thing. And each stage can be as difficult as the other.
Stage one: Peeing
This took ages for me. Not because Chicco wasn’t ready, but because I wasn’t. Just after he turned two, Chicco was out of nappies and into pull-ups. They’re basically like a nappy, but designed to work like underpants, so they can be pulled up and down when they go toilet, but secure enough to ‘contain’ any accidents. He was taken to the toilet every half hour and when he was able to say he needed the toilet, the pull-ups were replaced with little boy pants. There were still plenty of accidents, but also successes where he would use the toilet. A few months into this, we flew abroad for a few weeks. I knew dealing with accidents would be hard as we travel, so I kept him in pull-ups and sure enough all the hard work was wiped away! By the time we returned home, Chicco was back to square one. So I decided to try some of the suggested methods:
Patience. I was losing this. I felt like the battle was lost and it was my fault!
Nakedness. The idea was over a week-end, stay home and let Chicco be naked. Routinely take him to the toilet, but if he has an accident, he would see it, and have a visual realisation of what has happened. This would then encourage him to use the toilet. Or something like that! It didn’t work for me. In fact it backfired disastrously! When Chicco realised the power of his pee, he turned it into a game to see how far he could aim his wee! Luckily I have all wood flooring!
Stickers. This actually did work for me. To an extent. I bought tiny little fish stickers for Chicco, so every time he would wee he got a sticker. Unfortunately, he chose to stick them on the side of the sink, so he could view his accomplishments. He cried when I tried to take them off. I have a sticker covered sink. But hey, at least they helped get him to wee on the toilet and not my floor!!
So after a few months, despite a few rare accidents, Chicco was fully toilet trained… to wee. Pooing was a different matter!
Stage two: Poops
Even though Chicco would happily wee on the toilet, he absolutely refused to do a poo in one. I knew when Chicco needed to poop , but once Chicco was on the toilet, he would freeze up. I would wait for ages, sometimes even up to half an hour, but he wouldn’t poop. As soon as I would take him off, he would poop in his pants. It was incredibly frustrating. Then I did the worst thing possible. I told him off. I told him I would be very upset if he did another poo in his pants. Then he didn’t poo. For almost two entire days. I was wracked with guilt and almost in tears. My son was constipated and it was my fault. So I had a chat with him and explained I would like him to poo in the toilet, but I won’t be angry if he poops in his pants. And I accepted defeat. For the next few weeks he popped in his pants or if I could catch it in time, in pull-ups. It wasn’t a pleasant time, but I would rather clean that mess than watch my son suffer.
Then one day, on my birthday, as if like magic it happened. Chicco went to the toilet and pooped. I made a huge deal of it. And he realised how happy I was. And he has never pooped in his pants since.
Stage three: Night time
Now this I’m still trying to master. I make a point of taking Chicco to the toilet before he sleeps and as soon as he wakes up. For the last few weeks, most mornings he wakes up with a dry nappy, but some mornings there have been small accidents. I’ll wait a few more weeks before I take the night time nappy off and maybe even invest in a waterproof mattress cover. And if I’m feeling really good, I will even wake up and take him to the toilet once during the night. I’m just not sure how committed I would be to that though, since having him sleep through the night has been bliss and I’m anxious about regressing this.
So there you have it. Toilet training isn’t easy, it isn’t quick, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.