don't let toilet training your child drive you potty ?

going with the flow from nappy to happy

We all start off in them - nappies, diapers whatever you prefer to name them.

Regardless of who we are we all spend a couple of years wearing these "safety nets" which allows our parents to focus on the other "development" areas for the specific time. Once we hit 18 months people start to comment on whether we are thinking of trying to potty train our toddlers. They don't tell us we should be however we are inundated with tales like "oh my friends little girl was out of nappies by the time she was 13 months!" or "my little boy took to the potty like a natural!".

These tales, many of which are completely exaggerated as memory fades of the different and often difficult stages of development for a child, ARE NOT HELPFUL!

I know from having had three children, each who were completely unique in their attitude and approach to toilet trainin, there is no science to it and no one can actually miraculously make your child use the toilet or potty by any specific timeline unless your child has turned into a robot!

Children will do what they are ready to do when they are ready to do it - Potty training is no exception.

I am not trying to put anyone off reading helpful books regarding this topic as they do offer good tools and structure when the time is right, however often the tales you read where success stories of other parents are reeled off, really do not help the parent who is really struggling and wondering why on earth their darling child wants to simply stay put in their diaper. Well the fact is your child, by the stage you consider potty training, already has developed their very own unique personality and it is continually being developed and challenged with every day life.

All of a sudden they are walking, talking, eating on their own (again all these milestones done in their own time and at their own pace - no one elses) then suddenly we are pointing to a large plastic (often coloured) bowl and telling them to sit on it.

Many of the facial expressions I got as a mum potty training was the look of, "if it is so much fun to sit on that big plastic cold bowl why don't you do it!". From the comfort of a secure, cosy diaper comes the cool breeze of air and a pair of cotton underpants which not only are less comfy they are completely alien to our children.

My first child (girl) took to the toilet and did not like the potty yet she was happy to give it a go however soon realised sitting up high on the toilet, swinging her legs back and forward was great fun and off she went.

My second child (boy) was not so keen on the big, cold throne I attempted to have him sit on. He preferred to sit in front of bear and the big blue house, eyes locked on the tv, and happily using the potty.

My third child (girl) found the potty more of a game where she would sit on it and make a "pssss" noise trying to convince me she was using it however really she was not interested in the potty at all and nothing I could do at that time could change her mind. The toilet however was not her preference either and I would spend ages sitting reading, singing and chatting trying to cajole her into using the toilet however when she knew she needed to go she would scream and attempt to run out. I was frustrated and confused. I realise now she was and is a fiercely private person, who still only wants me to help her initially to the toilet then "go away mummy" is the command I get. Fair enough, no of us really want an audience at this time in the day do we??

Yet so many people I know force themselves into trying the potty train their child at the first mention of it. Often "helpful" comments in fact have the opposite effect and was start to judge ourselves (wrongly) and question why we have not achieved potty training yet?

Give yourself a break and reflect on the last two years and everything from becoming a parent to your child being their own individual personality, who can walk, talk, laugh, play and have fun. Another few weeks in a nappy does not take away the amazing job you have done as a parent to date.

You don't see many school kids or college kids in diapers therefore we all know the majority of children will make the move to the potty and/or toilet when they are ready. Yes you may feel your child is ready and this is the time to get started however not because you feel you should be because someone has just happened to mention it two seconds after your child turns 2 years old.

Take the pressure off yourself, as it can be a frustrating and unrewarding experience for your child and for you if the timing is all wrong. If it ain't working, leave it a while and go back when you are BOTH good and ready. The look of disappointment and annoyance on a parents face when your child has not managed to use the potty or toilet is unfair on them. This is all so new to them and if they are not ready or maybe confident enough then a couple of weeks (which let's face it is a very long time in terms of development for a toddler) will probably change the whole landscape for the next attempt you make. And if the next attempt still is not the right time then leave it again. It will come I promise.

All too often parents (although this is never admitted) are fiercely competitive of one another in terms of their child's attainments or achievements in the first few years (and beyond but that's a different hub for a different time!), We can never compare children to others when they are all so unique with such different personalities. If you have to be competitive leave your kids development out of it. There are no winners in this type of situation. You do not get a gold medal for having your child potty trained by 18 months just as you don't for training them at three years. It is just par for the course with no rules on timing.

You are the parent who has achieved so much in their first two years on this earth. Look at everything your child has learned to do which is amazing considering how young they are. Don't let a large plastic bowl scupper your enthusiasm for your own achievements to date and more importantly those of your child.

Just go with the flow when it comes to potty training. It works I promise.

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