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.

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