Potty Training: it’s time to call time

As we entered day 5 of potty training in the Baffled household, Mr B and I decided that we’d give it one last day and make a decision about whether to call time on it.  It had been suggested that we give it 2 weeks or so and see if our little Button-Pusher would at some point just ‘get it’.  But the reality was that over the previous 4 days, she hadn’t once asked to sit on the potty, or told us she was doing a wee.  If she didn’t have it now, it seemed unlikely that it would miraculously change.  But the forecast was for good weather, we had a set of grandparents staying with us, so we decided one last day of sitting in the garden and allowing plenty of naked time with the paddling pool, wouldn’t hurt.  We had no plans to go anywhere.  Why not give it 12 more hours

Over lunch my mother-in-law commented that when she and her friends potty trained, 40 odd years ago, there was no discussion, or even the thought, about waiting for a child to be ready.  She told me that in her day, you trained your child when it was right for you, the parent, and usually that happened some time between your toddler reaching 18 months and 2 years of age, “just because”.  I mentally thanked the universe that I was parenting in an age where there’re child psychology books and an internet full of help and information, and headed over to the NHS website to have a look at what advice was like in 2015:

Children are able to control their bladder and bowels when they’re physically ready and when they want to be dry and clean. Every child is different, so it’s best not to compare your child with others. Bear in mind the following:

  • most children can control their bowels before their bladder
  • by the age of two, some children will be dry during the day, but this is still quite early
  • by the age of three, 9 out of 10 children are dry most days – even then, all children have the odd accident, especially when they’re excited, upset or absorbed in something else
  • by the age of four, most children are reliably dry

By the age of 4, most children are reliably dry.  That was the bit that stuck out for me.  Here we were waiting until B-P was 28 months, thinking we’d delayed it quite a lot, when in reality, it seemed that today’s considered opinion was a) the age of 2 was still quite early and b) it could take some children until the age of 4

For me, it’s really no hardship to change a nappy a handful of times a day.  We don’t use washable nappies, and though of course, with disposables, there’s always the question of landfill in the back of your mind (though there are now companies who will collect your nappies and recycle them for a surprisingly reasonable fee), changing a nappy today, is not as arduous a task as changing, washing, and drying the terry cloth nappies of 40 years ago.  Also, I imagine modern ‘soak up the wee’ technology means they’re also kinder to babies’ bottoms, so perhaps today there’s not same the rush for parents to stop using nappies, as there was 40 years ago.  A quick straw poll amongst my NCT crowd, and it seemed everyone knew someone whose child had taken a couple of attempts to train, and many were nearer to 3 in age.

So though we carried on to the end of day 5, with encouragement and positive suggestions about potties and big girl pants, by the end of the day, we had to conclude that perhaps B-P just wasn’t ready.  Perhaps she just didn’t feel or recognise that sensation that you’re about to wee.  Perhaps she was just such a busy little bee, having so much fun with trains, and cars, and blocks, and play doh and painting, that her mind just wasn’t focused yet.  It was time to call time on this attempt, and try again at some point in the future.

In the words of Rosie Revere, the heroine of B-P’s favourite book, the only true failure can come if you quit.  We’d try again, when B-P seemed more ready, and perhaps next time, I won’t have to mop up quite so much wee!

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 12.59.59


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