Potty training – THE TRUTH

This post was originally published in my previous blog in May 2018

My wife and I have not been mentioning this for fear of jinxing it. It’s been six days now and I feel I can now share with you all.

We have finally cracked toilet training with M! There, I’ve said it.

Last Thursday she came home from nursery school having managed to actually do a poo on the toilet there and not soil her pants. Every day since then when she’s sat on the toilet in the morning she’s managed to do a poo. We had a long weekend when for the first time in, well it feels like forever, we’ve not had any accidents to clean up.

The Truth

So here’s the truth about potty/toilet training. IT’S HARD, end of. I don’t want to sugar coat it for you, we’ve had a real rollercoaster with M. It has been a year (yes a year) since we started the process. I’ve written about it as we’ve progressed along the journey, see my Potty Training section. When you do a bit of research online you see many books on the subject such as “How to potty train in 3 days”. Bullsh*t!

When I’ve been told by other parents “oh Daisy was hard to potty train, it took two weeks”, I politely smile and stifle the urge to scream. We started this saga with M in May 2017, like I say, potty training is hard. To be clear, we’ve not been at it non-stop since then. There have been breaks, the latest period of training started just after Christmas and she’s finally got it 5 months later!

What’s worked

I feel now that my wife and I are experts on the matter, so to help you get through it here are my tips on what’s worked for us.

  1. Reading Material – for you. Like I said there are hundreds of books out there on the subject. I’ve read loads and have taken snippets from each. However the one that really seemed to make sense was Oh Crap! Potty Training, by Jamie Glowacki. Recommended.
  2. Reading Material – for your little one. What’s been a great success for M is leaving a number of her books in the toilet. She loves reading and her successes have come when she’s been on the loo initially for a wee, but then she grabs a book and sits there for 10 minutes more and voila! Poo in the loo….woohoo! This tip also covers you sitting there and reading to them, although M got wise to this and used it as an excuse just to get read to; “Daddy can you read me a book on the loo, then maybe I can do a poo”.
  3. Going Commando – no not for you. A suggestion from Jamie’s book is giving your child time running around bare bummed. This seemed to really work for M. Having a bare bum made her realise when she needed to go and usually resulted in a successful visit to the toilet. Having said that, she was running around the garden once bare bummed and dropped a massive turd on the lawn, so you can’t win all the time!
  4. Rewards. One thing that Jamie Glowacki discourages in her book (see point 1) is rewards for successful visits to the toilet/potty. Whether it be a sweet or marble. She suggests that this creates a reward obsessed monster and has the potential for battles. We’ve not found this. We give M a marble for every successful poo on the loo and when the marble jar is full she gets a prize or her choice. We also reward her with a chocolate button. This has not been the source of any battles and has worked really well. But each child is different.
  5. Pant Liners. This is a relatively recent thing for us, but I was put onto this by a friend and they have helped. Also Jude and Di at  Dry Like Me have been super helpful in being a sounding board for our toilet training woes. The liners go into the pants and make it easier to clean the pants when an accident happens. You end up not throwing away the soiled pants. This is more for your sanity than anything else.
  6. Poo goes to Poo Land. Yes an app about going to the toilet. It has helped, firstly Galla gets to use the iPad, her favourite treat. And the app has reinforced with her that poos go to poo land down the toilet.
  7. Positive Reinforcement. An obvious one this one. Even when you are at the end of your tether and your little one has a success then do the poo poo dance, whoop with joy, high 5s all round. Make them feel that they’ve really achieved something. We’ve even phoned Grandma and Grandpa to report the success. It gives your little one confidence to repeat that success.
  8. Negative Reinforcement. Let me be clear, this is not direct punishment per se, and we’ve had limited success with it. But it can sometimes work. When your little one is engrossed playing with a particular toy and she was too busy to bother going to the potty/toilet then has an accident. I’ve taken said toy away and said it will come back when she has a success. I said it sometimes works, because it did get to the point when M was having so many accidents she was just handing me whatever she was playing with at the time and said “you can take this away Daddy”. Having said that, we took away M’s dress up dresses (the Elsa dress being a huge favourite) and explained to her this was because they are difficult to clean. After a long period without them she has got her dress up stuff back and is so happy and excited she feels like she really has achieved something.
  9. Fancy pants. You can spend lots of money on pants with their favourite cartoon characters on. But for M watching Skye going into the bin didn’t seem to prove a big enough deterrent.
  10. Peer pressure. When your little one attends a nursery or day care setting potty training can be hard. We’ve found that M has had some successes when she has gone to the loo with her friends. Indeed we’ve even got the nursery staff to suggest to her friends to go to the loo to encourage M to go as well. The nursery staff also have a marble jar for her there which once she fills it she gets a reward. Apparently her latest reward is to bake a cake….can’t wait.

In the end

In the end I have got heartily sick of people telling me “she will get it”. When you have a bucket in the laundry overflowing with shitty pants and Vanish powder and your little darling has just wet the floor again, it feels like she will just never get it. I was convinced that I would still be changing her soiled pants when she was 10.

We don’t know what just clicked last week, nothing has changed in the way we parent her. M obviously just got it and decided that each morning she always does a poo on the loo.

Do you have any top tips for potty/toilet training. Let me know.

Potty Training – The Saga Continues

This post was originally published in my previous blog in April 2018

Long ago in a galaxy far far away…..

There was a little girl who knew when to go to the toilet and took herself off there without any problems at all.

And the link between those two sentences, one is science fiction, the other is just pure fiction.

The story so far

(c) popsugar.com

As regular readers will know we’ve had our fair share of issues potty training M. We started this latest session of training just after Christmas, M also turned three recently so this is it, there’s definitely no going back. She has been doing really well. She prefers to use the toilet and can normally get herself there to do a wee. It’s the poos that are the issue. Everyone says “she’ll get there” which is great, but when you’ve been trying to potty train for almost a year, it’s not much consolation.

The lowest ebb

The thing is, there really is no rhyme or reason to when they will get it. We encourage her, we act disappointed when appropriate, we praise exuberantly when needed. You feel like you’re just not getting through sometimes. This all came to a head the other week at nursery school.

I got a call from the room leader explaining that M had had a big poo accident. She’d cleaned her up as best she could but perhaps I should come and pick her up in case she does it again. Now, to be fair to nursery, the accident was quite (hope you’re not eating) “liquid” and they were concerned that she was unwell. When I came to pick her up I had a long conversation with the room leader about “what can I do”. She suggested that we don’t make a big fuss and just keep on as we were, perhaps use marbles in a jar as an incentive for example. Excuse me, “don’t make a big fuss”?! How is calling her Dad to pick her up early when she soils herself, not making a fuss???

When we thought about it, both me and my wife were quite annoyed. Especially as the next day at nursery, M refused to eat her lunch. She knows that food leads to poos, perhaps she didn’t want to eat in case she had a poo and I was called to bring her home early?

The only way is up

Moving on from that incident I feel she’s definitely become more aware of going to the toilet. Also an upside is there is more focus from her key worker and room leader at nursery on supporting her with her toilet training. It’s about time!

A breakthrough?

This last week we’ve had a couple of amazing breakthroughs. On one day she managed to go to the loo to do a wee and at the same time did a poo, this happened twice in one day! Then a day later she came into kitchen in the morning and said “I think I need a poo”, took herself off and did it on the loo!! AMAZING! Me and my wife were so giddy with success, we even opened a bottle of bubbles at the end of the day.

Of course that was four days ago and since then she’s reverted and hasn’t managed to make it to the loo for a no.2. Sigh, kids giveth then taketh away!

I am taking the two glorious days we had of success. Hope it’ll happen again soon.

Sorry about all the toilet talk but as a parent I never thought I’d become quite so obsessed with my daughter’s bodily functions. What do you think?

Potty training reset the reset

This post was originally published in my previous blog in November 2017

Oh what’s a Dad to do? You may remember my struggles with potty training Big M here and here. Well after 3 months of trying i’m giving up! Ok, that’s a bit dramatic and to be fair to M, she is doing really well with the weeing side of things. She will even get up in the night and sit on the potty to do one.

It’s just the No.2’s.

Oh crap

In doing a bit of research on potty training I found the following book most helpful: “Oh crap potty training” . Part of Jamie’s method is the “going commando ” approach. I.e. in the early stages, letting your toddler run around naked from the waist down and then going to wearing leggings etc without underwear. This really worked for M and we found, even recently, that if she was naked from the waist down she would manage to get to the potty for her poo.

However she consistently has accidents when wearing her underwear. This came to a head yesterday. Our morning routine is that she gets up, takes off her overnight nappy, does a wee on the potty then puts her “big girl pants” on and we head downstairs for breakfast. Yesterday in the midst of making hers and little m’s porridge she came in with a tell tale little cramped look as if she was about to go so I told her to get on the potty right away but she said “no, I don’t need to” and left the room. Minutes later she came back in on all fours having soiled her pants. I was so annoyed, probably more so with myself for not stopping what I was doing and just putting her on the potty. As Jamie says, you have to facilitate their successes.

I just don’t understand why the addition of underwear has this affect on her when she clearly gets it with her wee. Anyway, we took the decision today to keep her in her pull up nappy’s, so far we’ve done everything the books tell you not to; use pull ups, rewards, no praise, too much praise, punishment (removing stickers from her chart). I can see where we’ve gone wrong, she’s confused the poor thing.

So she was initially quite upset by the idea of not wearing her big girl pants, but after I clearly explained that once she’s able to do a poo on the potty she can go back to wearing them, she was a lot happier.

It feels like a long and bumpy road, i’m just hoping that by not making a big deal of this change she can “get it”, oh please god before she turns three next Feb!

Potty training – reset

This post was originally published in my previous blog in October 2017

So I have previously posted on our experiences with potty training and how it’s been a long and tortuous road. We are still on that road and recently had to “reset”.

The reset

I wrote that just before my wife returned to work from maternity leave. People say that children cope well with change, well I know one little girl who doesn’t. Poor Galla was quite upset that mummy wasn’t at home on the Monday morning when we left for nursery school. When I picked her up that afternoon she was in a pair of “loaner” shorts from the nursery, she’d managed to go through the four changes of clothes I’d packed in her school bag. Oh dear….

Well all the literature says that you could go backwards with potty training if the child feels unsettled. For the rest of that week it didn’t get much better, in fact it got down right frustrating, she would do her little “wee dance” and I’d ask her to go to the potty and she’d refuse saying she didn’t need a wee. Then of course within seconds she’d wet herself. It wasn’t much better if I just picked her up and put her on it, there were tantrums, it got the point where she was almost going rigid and screaming when I tried to get her on the potty….one thing we didn’t want to breed was a fear of going to the toilet.

Anyway, we went on a trip at the end of the week to visit to Grandma and Grandpa for the weekend. Galla loves seeing them, but there were still accidents and she was still getting very upset about using the potty or toilet. So finally on Sunday morning we asked her if she wanted to use nappies again, she meekly said that she would. We put her in nappies all day and the change was remarkable, we had our happy little girl back again! Funnily enough she still treated the nappy as if she was wearing pants, she’d do a wee and act like she’d wet herself and ask to be changed.

The next day was Monday and I asked her as I was getting her dressed if she wanted to wear pants or nappies today and she said pants. I made it clear that if she wears pants she has to use the potty and toilet and did she understand that, she nodded. That was last week and so far we are back to normal, well still not getting the number twos but at least back to being happy to go on the potty/toilet and taking herself off there with no problems.

I just wanted to share this as some of the books you read appear to be real doomsayers about “never go back to nappies”, “it’ll confuse them”, “create problems” etc. It doesn’t really, we gave our little girl some control back again which in turn appeared to fix the uncontrollable spiral we were finding ourselves in.

I really hope I don’t have to write another piece on potty training…..

On Potty training…..aaarrrgghhh!

This post was originally published in my previous blog in October 2017

Where do we start?…. Well I started looking at Pinterest and found a load of these sort of pages:

The idea that you can potty train your child in three days is bollocks. Of all our friends with children they all have various stories of success; “after a while she didn’t want to wear nappies at night and that was that” for example, but none have said they did it over a long weekend!

We are currently seven weeks down the line and while M will happily take herself off to the potty or toilet when she needs a wee, we are still struggling with poos. Now everyone says that this is a sticking point (forgive the pun) but I really don’t know how to progress on this issue. I guess we can keep on supporting her, give her lots of encouragement and reminders of “where do poos go?” she knows exactly where they need to go but at the moment the closest to success we’ve had was her telling me she needed the toilet just at the moment she was doing it. Oh well, as my wife said “it’s a miracle any of us know how to use the loo, we’re not going to train m, she’s going to be in nappies until she’s 22!”

Also, potty training changes you, myself and my wife have become completely blasé about other people’s sensibilities. When you spend most of your week days going to places and activities where there are other children and parents you’re used to kids having accidents and their general (frankly brilliant) no holds barred, shameless attitude to life. But when you have friends visiting who don’t have children you forget this and while it may be completely normal to you to have your toddler parade around half naked then sit on the potty in the corner of the room, you forget that this is not really a normal occurrence for most people.

So how on earth did we get here?

You have to remember that everything that your child has learned to this point is pretty much instinctive, eating, walking, talking all come naturally and we as parents are there to guide and develop these attributes. But going to the toilet is seems totally unnatural to a toddler and it is the first thing that we as parents actively have to teach and they to learn. So it’s a learning curve for both of us.

We tried the potty when M was 27 months but it was within 2 months of m being born and it was a disaster from beginning to end so we quickly abandoned it. Reading various books tells you that should only attempt potty training at least 2 months before or ideally after the arrival of a new sibling.

So, reset and start again.

Both me and my wife discussed how we should approach potty training M and in the end I drew the short straw. We decided that it would be good if one parent took the lead and as I’m naturally the calmer of the two of us I got the job, ho hum.

As with most things to do with parenting I like to read a bit from several sources, either ignore it or take what I like from each. We went with the approach that we will go with M being out of nappies for most of the day but if there are times when we absolutely need to leave the house then we would put a nappy on her. While some sources say this is confusing for the child most recommend not night potty training them at the same time so they are going into a nappy a night, what’s the difference?

I read a couple of books on the subject:


Typically for Gina she’s a bit hard core and goes with the “once they’re out of nappies, they’re out, no going back!”

Image result for potty training for girls

This book was a bit more of a softly softly approach, suggesting that you start your child on “sessions” of training, you go an hour or two without the nappy and slowly extend this over a period of time until she is out of the nappy for the whole day.

Anyway, we chose a clear couple of weeks at the end of the summer holidays and went for it. The first four days she was wearing her “big girl pants” but consistently kept having accidents, she’d wet herself and then say that she needed the potty. Doing a poo often came more out of luck than judgement, by sitting her on the potty around the time of day she usually went we occasionally got a success but more often than not I was cleaning soiled pants yet again.

We spoke to some friends who were going through the same process with their daughter and they recommended the following book:

Image result for oh crap potty training

I also consulted “Mums mafia”…sorry, mumsnet and this book quite often comes up in their forums as a good one to use for potty training.

It suggests going with the naked from the waist down approach for the first few days until she “gets it” and then progress to going commando, i.e. just wearing leggings or shorts for example and eventually after a few weeks putting the pants on.

The change was remarkable, going naked from the waist down made all the difference. After four days of pretty much one success a day and lots of accidents we immediately went to one or two accidents and lots of successes. After a few days we even managed our first outing, down to the local supermarket without an accident. I made a point every time we went out to take her to whatever public loos were available, firstly to not breed any fear of using a different toilet but also to get her to actually do her business in them. That first outing the supermarket in question has an excellent parent and child facility and I sat her on the loo and after a couple of minutes she did her wee…so proud.

Funny how life has changed for me, being immensely proud when my daughter successfully wees in a public toilet!

We’ll get there.