Does the thought of potty training your child fill you with dread? I have a friend who said that she had decided not to potty train her daughter for the forseable future, her daughter is nearly 3. It was reported in a newspaper this week that growing numbers of children are starting school still wearing nappies. Now, I don't think my friend will take it that far, but are we as a nation simply getting lazier, or less willing to accept responsibility for our own children?
I can understand not wanting to start potty training a child. The visions of puddles in the living room and poos left as 'surprises' around the house are enough to make most people hang on a while. However, shouldn't we think about our children? About their independence and self-worth?
We decided to potty train our son last summer. He was two and a half. We tried when I was down at my Mum's in Wales. It didn't work. He kept wetting himself and he wasn't very willing to sit on the potty. I'll admit that the potty I had bought was not big enough and it didn't look comfortable. So, we tried again a few weeks later when we went to France for two weeks in the summer. This time we just let him run around with no clothes on for the first week. Yes he did wee in some random places, but the floors were tiled, easily cleaned, and we didn't make a fuss of him not going in the potty.
The second week he wore Bright Bots. These are basically pants but with a semi-absorbent layer in them. This means that they will know that they have wet themselves and feel uncomfortable but it generally doesn't soak through their clothes. He had very few accidents and soon learnt to pull his pants down and go on the potty. When we left France after two weeks he was wearing normal pants and had learnt when he needed a wee or poo.
I'm not saying that every child is like this, just that it doesn't have to be a nightmare. We were very relaxed with him. We didn't make any fuss over accidents and he soon got the hang of it. We didn't use pull-ups. To be honest, I hadn't really thought about them. My son had awful nappy rash so for me, the sooner he was out of wearing anything with chemicals in the better.
If you are thinking of potty training your child soon, I would recommend the following to you:
- If it doesn't work then don't beat yourself up about it, your child simply might not be ready yet. Try again a few weeks later when your child has already been introduced to the idea, then it is not such a shock for them.
- If you can, have a few days when your child doesn't have to wear anything on their bottom half. This means they don't need to worry about having to take clothes off to use the toilet. They're also easier to clean if they have an accident!
- Talk to your child about it. Maybe get a book about using the potty. Anything you can do to normalise what they are going through will help.
- If you have a boy, make sure that the potty is raised at the front, it prevents many accidents!
- Relax. Easier said than done, but children can sense stress and it will have an effect on them.
- Take your time.
If you can, don't leave it until they start school. It is not a teacher's job to potty train your child!