This was going to be a ‘top tip potty training’ type blog post to help guide fellow parents through what is always portrayed as a tricky period and one where we all become sick to death of saying ‘do you need a wee?!’
However, after attempting the potty training twice earlier this year and quickly giving up I am turning this whole article around and using it to say please just wait until your little one is ready; and this is not only true for toilet training but for every milestone we are so eager for them to hit. The ones we build up in our own minds, the ones bragged about by other parents and the ones in tick boxes for their reviews. What is the rush?!
When Jake turned two last December my mind turned to what I felt was societies pressure to begin getting him onto a potty. I bought one, along with a toilet seat, and began looking into the top tips others frequently gave on parenting sites. I felt I needed to push him into this next stage simply due to his age but I quickly discovered that he was far too interested in having fun, playing with toys and getting lost in a programme to have the capability to be able to stop and think about getting up and then physically going to take a wee. I gave up in the early months of the year and tried again once the warmer weather started up… one of those tips I had read about – how it was easier to train them whilst they could run around naked in the garden. By this point his number 2’s were being mostly done on the toilet because he was aware of the feeling of needing to go. I saw this as my ‘sign’ to begin trying to rid the nappies for good (again). It lasted one day because every single time he wore pants he wet himself. It got to the point where he had few clean pants left and no more shorts! I could clearly see that I needed to wait, that pushing him may have just caused him upset and unnecessary stress and I certainly didn’t need anymore going on in my life when he has always been a very active child.
Fast forward to last Monday and I felt that something had just clicked with him. He was showing that he could use the toilet easily if he had been going around bottomless and was increasingly telling me when his nappy was wet. This led to him wanting it removed and replaced with a dry one… upping my supermarket costs! We are a week in and have so far only had two very small accidents, he made it through three hours at pre-school asking the staff to take him for a wee and I have hardly had to mention going to the toilet much at all. It has been so much easier than I had ever imagined and I think the reason being is simply because I waited until he was the one who was ready.
This was the same attitude I took when finally taking the dummy away. I sat at his two year review and listened to a health visitor explain how it just absolutely had to go that coming weekend but I knew he was not ready at that time. He was too reliant on it for his teething pain, he needed it to go to sleep and it was his comforter. Around a month later it was a different story and we were all ready to take the step to remove it but that was for me to decide as his Mother and he needed to be prepared for that moment. When he understood, the process was so easy and we have never looked back.
We seem to want to rush so many stages through their lives, from crawling to walking, signing to talking, sleeping in their own room and getting themselves off to sleep plus the common milestones we are told to achieve, but I think there are times where we could just slow it all down and focus more of our energy on enjoying the special moments. I still have many more new areas to encounter: reading, counting, swimming, riding a bike without stabilisers… But I feel that I have now learnt to just take things as they come. I read so many posts from parents worrying that their children aren’t yet out of nappies, are still using a bottle, are relying on a dummy, have never learnt to sign or aren’t yet talking as well as their friend’s toddlers. There are so many things to worry about as a parent lets not add any extras. How about we let them take the lead a little more and stop with the box ticking, remove the pressures and let them achieve these milestones when they are good and ready? After all, each of us adults learn new skills in different ways and at different rates, we all have our own ways of taking in information and for some of us it may take much longer than others, it is just simply what makes us individuals. It will all come together in time.