Potty Training by Example
How one mom inadvertently taught her child to use the toilet.
When my son was a newborn, he used to cry when I left the room, so after a while I found it easier to pick him up and bring him along. He came everywhere with me: the kitchen, the laundry, out to the post box, and yes, even into the loo.

I’d nestle him in the towel hamper – within eye and voice contact – until I had both hands free again. After a while he graduated to the bath mat and, later, to creeping around the floor to explore the nooks, crannies and (newly baby-proofed) drawers. He’d sometimes get a face cloth to play with, or – if luck was really smiling on him – an empty loo roll.

As he grew older these tandem bathroom trips continued (why interrupt a round of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ or a fascinating discussion about Bob the Builder?)

The Announcement

One day as I was finishing up, my son (then 2 ½) looked up at me and announced, ‘now it’s my turn!’

I was a little skeptical, but always one to encourage imaginative play, I lifted him up (clothes and all), and balanced him on the rim of the seat.

He stared at me with that patronizingly patient look that toddlers reserve for parents. ‘Take my nappy off, Mommy.’

So I did. He did his business, unrolled some loo paper (okay, about half a roll – there was a small conflict of wills here) and then stood up – on the seat – turned around, and pressed the flusher.

On went the nappy, and back to the playroom went one contented tot and one flabbergasted mommy.

Lesson learnt?

Of course he wasn’t miraculously toilet-trained overnight. We bought him one of those kid-sized seats that fit over the bowl, and he’s still in nappies now as a precaution since he’s not quite 3.

But by inadvertently teaching him, I managed to get out of 3 things I’d been dreading:

1.  I didn’t have to go through the awkward process of explaining the toilet, its purpose or operation.

2.  He was never afraid of the toilet (which is apparently quite common).

3.  I never – bless the god of potties or whoever is willing to listen – had to clean out a plastic potty.

When the student becomes the teacher

I think I learnt far more from this toilet training experience than my son did. I’ve realised that children are far more perceptive than we give them credit for, and that if we just give them the tools and the time, they can figure most things out for themselves.

So from now on, my approach to parenting is going to be: live and let learn. Until it comes to learning to drive my car, that is.

How did you teach your children to use the toilet?

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