Toilet learning journey and some of the mistakes we made along this sensitive learning period

We live in times, in which, for some weird reason, parents, especially moms are competitive about everything. Whose child started talking first? Whose child started naming colors correctly earlier? And of course, whose child got toilet trained first? Why are so many moms competitive? I really like Mayim Bialik’s recent vlog about it, which sums it all up, and in this post I do not want to add more than she already said. Instead of being supportive, moms get judged among themselves. Already in the recent post  I tried to emphasise how we should always be there for each other. As parents we are doing such an important job and should always help each other on this journey of parenthood.

Toilet learning presents a sensitive journey, and as such it should be approached. We live in rush times when people hurry in everything, even in eating, and try to hurry their kids into this journey. But before taking any step into this journey, ask yourself do you like to be pushed and stressed about doing things when you are still not ready for them? Importantly before you emerge yourself into toilet learning process please read this post written by the pediatric urologist and wait for your child to show you signs of readiness ((e.g. staying dry for longer periods, can pull the pants up and down by himself, knows the word for toilet, can ask for underwear, child has decided to use the toilet, child is not scared of toilet…).

As you have noticed I wrote toilet learning and not toilet training, because training involves an attitude of having to do it now because the adult chooses to. Toilet learning starts when your child shows symptoms that he or she is ready.

Also importantly, toilet learning means there is no need for reward system as the biggest award is they will learn to be independent and clean by themselves. And accidents that will happen in the beginning of the process and they are just lessons along the way. Since this is really a huge milestone, especially for their self-esteem, you should acknowledge their progress. And before you say something always try to put yourself in their skin.

Since I am a very pragmatic (or just lazy in a way) mom, instead of using cloth diapers, which are common in Montessori environments, I opted for the disposable ones. As a chemist by profession I truly believe in the upcoming years we ll find a way to recycle them and make an amazing use of impressive amounts of this precious waste.

So how do you perform the toilet learning with disposable diaper? – The same as with cloth diapers, but it is just a longer process as the sensation of wetting after urination doesn’t really exist. Once your child is able to stand, you can change the diapers while standing preferably in the bathroom equipped with toilet (place where poo and pee belong;)). Prepare your toilet for the big journey, equip it with potty, steep stool, some nice books (Everybody poops is a must have;)) and wait for your child to show you signs of readiness and step into this amazing journey (e.g. by asking your child does he or she want to pee on potty or toilet after waking up, before and after meal..). I must admit our daughter has showed signs much earlier than we really fully emerged into the journey but due to practical reasons (big travels planned in the same time) have decided to postpone it for later. Do I regret it? – a  bit, as during that period (24 months) she had no issues pooping at the toilet. In a way I feel guilty of on purpose deciding not to follow my child. So we kept the diaper on, but whenever she asked to pee or poo on toilet of course we took her there. Also outside. Then finally when she was around 28 months we went with her shopping, so she could choose her underwear. It was an exciting day for her. Since at that time she preferred potty, the learning process was slow cause at the day care there is a policy of not having potty, so she was obliged to have a diaper there. But still it was an ongoing process at home. Of course there were times when she would simply engage in some activities and forget about existence of the potty or toilet, but immediately went to change her clothes. She really disliked being wet. During one of those valuable lessons during the journey, my better half after a hard day at work arrived home and said with angry voice that she is already a big girl and she knows where the pee belongs and that is not the floor. Even though immediately I talked with her it is ok and better half apologized,  – she still repeats the sentence that pee should not be on the floor to her brother during his diaper changes. It just shows how we should really take care when we say something to our kids since they have absorbent minds and even though sometimes we would want them just to forget it the same second it just doesn’t work that way. After this “accident” she started drinking less – noticing it will result in not needing to go to toilet so “often”. One thing comes with another – so since she started drinking much less – she started getting constipated. And believe me, you don’t want your kid to be constipated during the toilet learning journey. Even worse I did not take it seriously, I thought it is just a phase. Truth is – constipation causes hard poo which is not a nice experience nor for a toddler nor adult. It caused that she decided to withhold – and pooping every five days. And the worst mistake I made, when I was asked for help I failed. I failed big time – my daughter asked me for a diaper (she can do better squat position in diaper standing than on our high toilet which I did not realise than) before going to daycare and I refused to give her. My better half gently asked me why did I do so – cause of my ambitions or really for her own good. Truth is – deep inside I was feeling ashamed to send her again to day care in diaper (I remembered last year when at day care they were making fun of 4-year-old boy still pooping in diaper), it was for my personal ambition and I realized it too late. I cried a lot that day – but I could not delete what I said and did. We are all humans after all, and we do make mistakes. Immediately after picking her up I told her she could have a diaper but she refused as now she is a big girl.  Finally after a month of constipation issues we went to doctor and got advice to take Lactulose and various advises regarding diet and fluids. Things are already going much better, but please take care:) I can not believe how many publications have I read during last month regarding constipation, guess now I am a poop expert;)))

Learn on our mistakes, listen to your child and do not hurry:)

Every child is different, and I guess as many children that many toilet learning stories can be told. During this first journey I ve learned a lot and I am ready for all the following journeys that are to come:D