*This post was written in collaboration with Andrex and the Clean Routine. I’m thrilled to be working with Andrex in the upcoming months to help families be ready for little ones that are starting school in September.
When I met my husband, our eldest was 4 years old and already confident going to the toilet herself. She was in reception at school and so hers is the only toilet training journey that I haven’t been involved in. With Shayla-Rae her toilet training journey was very confusing, as living between two homes, and attending nursery, there were a lot of conflicting voices for her. Judah is set to go to school in September so knowing that he is completely confident in his toilet training is a HUGE deal for me and I think a lot of parents/carers across the nation who wonder if their little ones are going to be able to wipe effectively, was their hands properly before they eat and prevent as many upset tummies as possible. Eden is very early on in her toilet training, using the potty for a while now, but not with any real effectiveness. This little on is completely in denial that her body creates anything smelly.
I thought I would write a little post about some things that I’ve learned along the way toilet training three out of four of them, as I know it can be a really stressful time for parents/carers and especially for the little ones. It’s so important to learn how to do it correctly too. We spend a lot of time teaching our children how to brush their teeth the right way to try and prevent cavities and gum disease, but do we remember to focus on the correct way that the little ones should wipe so they don’t end up with bugs in their most delicate parts? I know that it’s something I have only recently begun to think about, knowing that soon my little boy (little boys always manage to get so dirty don’t they?) will have to deal with this himself without anyone else around. If he doesn’t wipe himself properly at the start of the day, do I really want him being uncomfortable all day long and getting sore? Of course I don’t, none of us would.
The Don’t’s of Toilet Training
With our poor little Shayla-Rae there were a few things that I definitely did wrong when it came to toilet training. Some things were unavoidable in our situation as communication wasn’t at it’s best between the two households in the earlier years of our blended family journey, but I’ll just share the main things that I guess really I knew, but it is sometimes easier said than done (especially with a newborn in your arms).
1 Don’t punish mistakes
Shayla-Rae was always a very intelligent child, and would act older than her years so when we began to start her journey without nappies at nearly three, she had been showing signs that she was ready for about 9 months. We had been trying to get her out of nappies over that time. She had a fancy all squeaking, ride on, comfy duck potty from Mamas and Papas and she loved it. She would do really well one weekend at ours and then it would be undone as she went back to her other home and also nursery. She had no continuity. So when we finally decided to eliminate nappies I was under the impression she was being naughty/lazy when she would do things such as poo in her bed – yep I said it – as she would deny that the little logs belonged to her and blame her older sister. So we would do things like time out, or say, no ice-cream after dinner that day. I look back now and feel so sad that we did that. She was probably frightened to go to the bathroom at night, or to just get out of her bed (we had put a potty in her room at night time). Maybe it was just because she was not used to having to get up at night to go to the toilet. Whatever the reason, she was learning. She was on a journey and negative reinforcement is NEVER the way to effectively teach a child anything. Love corrects. Being fearful of losing treats or being put on time out was stress that she didn’t need at that time. The reality is that yes, she did know what to do, but that doesn’t always result in perfection does it? Goodness me, how many times do I eat that piece of cake knowing that it wont make me slim. Rewarding good practices and a little ‘oops that’s not how we do it is it? We do it this way’ reminder is much more effective.
2 Don’t put pressure on yourself
With Judah showing signs of being ready for toilet training before he even turned two I was a bit thrown. I’d been told that boys are usually much later, so I’d placed him in my ‘we’ll deal with that later’ box and I was completely unprepared. We went out and bought a potty (could we find the expensive duck one we’d bought Shayla? Of course we couldn’t) and spent a few days bare bottomed in the house. He had lots of success and I wrote about it here but then he was struggling when we were out and about. So, after some great advice from my friend I decided to leave it a while, he obviously wasn’t ready and there was no reason to put pressure on to him or myself. Having another baby in nappies can feel like a big pressure, no-one wants to have more than one dirty bottom to wipe but at the end of the day, that is all that it was. Once I decided to leave Judah alone I just left the potty around in the rooms we were in (we had more than one) and he ended up potty-training himself. I never had to say a word, he just started taking himself to the toilet (he had a little toilet seat and a step) or to the potty when he needed to go. Once the pressure was off, he was able to make that choice for himself. Of course, every child is different and this doesn’t mean that every child will potty train themselves, but a more relaxed parent, and a more relaxed child are definitely a better environment. One where you are being set up to win instead of to fail.
3 Don’t be private about using the toilet yourself
While they are still young and toilet training, making sure that going to the toilet is not something to be embarrassed about and is a scenario that everyone will find themselves in, is important knowledge for a little one. Of course, using the toilet is a private thing, and when we’re in public we teach them to lock the door and hopefully not open it until Mummy/Daddy/Nanny have finished pulling their pants back up, (goodness me, why do they always want to open the door as soon as their turn has finished?) but at home making sure they are shown first hand how to wipe correctly is so important for good hygiene and toilet training going forward. Showing them by example that when we’ve flushed we go and thoroughly wash our hands. Knowing how to correctly wash our hands etc. is really important too. I remember learning from one of the signs in my surgery when I worked as a dental nurse the most thorough/clinical way to wash my hands. I was 22 then. I’d always washed my hands thoroughly I thought, but never as thorough as when I’d been shown correctly. WE all know the phrase don’t we ‘do as I say, not as I do’ my Dad used to say it to me ALL THE TIME, but the reality is with teaching, most things are better caught than taught (unfortunate choice of words for this topic, but you know what I mean). Little ones are always the best imitators.
With Judah starting school in September I am definitely thinking more about toilet training and making sure that he’s ready to sort himself out confidently. Just because he doesn’t wear nappies anymore doesn’t mean that he knows how to be clean, and I want to make sure that he’s not picking up and passing on any bugs as much as is physically possible in a new school with lots of other little ones learning to be clean too. We’re going to be focusing on the correct wiping techniques using the Andrex ‘Clean Routine‘ and also how to wash our hands correctly so that he’s as confident as he possibly can be when he starts school in September.
According to Andrex the toilet training journey isn’t finished until our little ones are at the stage where they can go to the toilet, keep the door closed and clean themselves correctly without needing our assistance. This is my aim before September, but I’m also not going to be shy to chat to his teacher is I feel com September he still needs any support, although, I’m not sure what they could do when they a class full of children they need to attend to. Let’s make toilet training talk less taboo though, and make sure our little ones can feel as clean as a “baby wipe” Judah’s words.