When I was a first time Mum, I went along to quite a few baby groups, I listened to other parents advice, I watched how they did things and I mostly followed suit. So, when I saw them insisting that at the age of 2 we should be potty training, I just copied. I thought this was the way it was done. I very, very quickly realised that this was wrong. Jake wasn’t ready and after several attempts and lots of wet clothing later, I stopped pushing this challenge on him and left him to enjoy being a toddler. He didn’t want to stop playing to have to use a toilet or potty, he was too engrossed in building a train track to notice cues from his bladder and he absolutely hated wetting himself because he felt he had done something wrong. I also didn’t want to have to spend a week at home to “crack this” as I so often heard, I didn’t want to have to carry lots of spare clothes out with me and I certainly didn’t want him to have to overthink it all. I came to really dislike the term potty training, the ‘training’ part just didn’t sit right with me and I made the decision that he would tell me when he was ready.
Of course, it didn’t take much longer and by 2 years 9 months, he was ready and showed us this by completely bypassing the potty and going straight to the toilet. We had no accidents at home or at pre-school and a couple of months later he was even dry at night. It was so incredibly easy for us because we didn’t force him, we allowed him to take that step of his own accord.
Second Time Around
Now I am a mother of a second child and I know so much more about parenting. I have changed and adapted to this role over the years and I am a very different Mum now. I have allowed more mess, more wild play in the house, I have co-slept, I have been more of a gentle parent, I use cloth nappies, I have thrown the “rule book” out of the window and I have instead, listened to my own baby’s cues.
Potty ‘training’ hasn’t been discussed in our house, we haven’t put any emphasis on him using a toilet and we haven’t encouraged him to lose the nappy (it does help that they are absolutely gorgeous and aren’t costing us anything). He is well over 2 now and I am not worried in the slightest that he is still not able to fully control his bladder and bowels. In my opinion, it is far more important for him to develop his communication, his fine and gross motor skills plus his social skills over using a potty.
Having said that, he has obviously started to take notice of his big brother and how he uses a toilet throughout the day. Just from observing this by himself, he decided to copy and one day, I found him balancing on the toilet seat saying he was having a wee! I was so taken aback but really pleased that I left him to make this decision himself. He now has his toilet seat so that he can sit comfortably on there and hasn’t done a poo in his nappy for around 3 weeks, choosing to only do it when at home on our toilet. He will still wear a cloth nappy during the day and the night and has never asked to use a toilet when we are out but there is no rush, I am more than happy with where he is at right now. He is learning by himself, he is the one taking the lead and everything will come in time as it always does with every child.
If you are in the position where your little one isn’t quite ready for potty ‘training’, please don’t stress. Every child is different and what comes quickly to one, can take much longer for another. It’s not to say that it will never happen, of course it will, but there should be no shame in having a 3+ year old still in nappies and it would be lovely if parents stopped thinking that every 2 year old should be able to manage a potty fulltime. Just go with their flow, loosen up on the pressure (on both yourself and your toddler) and let them enjoy exploring their little world.
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