A Little Post-Potty-Training Perspective
Who decides when it’s time to switch to potty-pooping and beyond?
There’s a saying, I have no idea where it comes from - ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.’ The same basic principle applies to kids, too. Only instead of drinking, we’re talking potty training. Your child will only potty-train when he’s ready. And who makes that decision? He does.

Most of the parenting books I’ve read are a bit vague on the subject of potty-training and the appropriate age of commencement. No one can tell you for sure when your child will be ready to make this transition from nappies to underpants, because no one knows, except your child.

Let sleeping kids lie…

I watched all the other parents I know asking their children every quarter hour if they wanted to go to the toilet to make a wee, and heard them discuss nighttime tactics of setting (repetitive) alarms to wake the sleeping child for nighttime ablutions to avoid accidents. Call me lazy, but this all seemed like serious hard work and after a few nights of interrupted sleep for us all  (the only results I got? A toddler in tears over being woken from deep sleep) – I stopped.

The pooping-prodigy

I remember a letter in a parenting magazine, sent in by two proud parents detailing their story of how they’d managed to potty train their 5 month old baby, completely by accident. Only, if you consider the circumstances, it wasn’t accidental. Mother was mid-nappy change, kid starts to make a number two, mother hangs kid over toilet and lets kid poop. Kid realizes that pooping in toilet is nicer than sitting in it, and thereafter will only poop when being held over toilet.

Sure, they’re lucky they got it when kid was still so young, but all it all boils down to that one important epiphany, and the only person that can have it is your child. The moment that it dawns on them that there is, in fact, an alternative to sitting in one’s own poop.

“You can have the car keys after you’ve changed your nappy!"

Yes, people are quick to reassure you that there’s no child that’s started big school wearing a nappy (a quick search on Google reveals a forum answer whereby one person claims to know a perfectly normal 7 year old that is not potty trained) – but when your 3 year old (who can do everything else for himself) is still in nappies, you start to worry, obviously. And this is where you have to get creative.

While it might be true you that you can’t lead a horse to water to make him drink, you sure can do your best to make the circumstances right for the horse to want to drink. Once all health issues were resolved (and trust me, you’ll want to take a read, just in case) I didn’t make a fuss about potty-training. I just put underpants on. Day and night. It took a few accidents and a few night-time loads of laundry, but he soon had that special epiphany, and made the choice himself.

That special moment happened a few months shy of his fourth birthday. But now, he wakes up dry every morning and takes himself to the loo at night if he needs it.
And so, my advice to you, if you’re struggling with potty training: (and the same advice my grandmother gave me) make it as unpleasant as possible for your child not to use the potty; and make the potty training as easy on yourself as possible. Don’t over-complicate it, or force it.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Was your child a potty-prodigy or did he take his time?

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