Toilet Learning CNTD - troubleshooting etc.
If you genuinely do wait until your child is ready you shouldn’t have any problems around toileting. They should just “get it” from day one. Problems generally occur when parents coerce, force or start children before they are ready. Or they can happen when a child starts using the toilet of their own accord, but parents make a big deal out of it – shower them in praise and reward them with all sorts. This can have the opposite affect parents are hoping for – instead of encouraging them to go it can put pressure on them. Which makes many children back off and stop wanting to go. A little bit of praise can be effective, but it can be difficult to know what the right amount of praise is. That is why I choose validation over praise. So, if you’re child uses the toilet and tells you “Daddy, I did my wees in the toilet.” Instead of opting for the old reliable “Good girl, well done” or “Good job, that’s fantastic, you’re amazing!” Perhaps try something more neutral like “Yes, I see that. You did your wees in the toilet.” Or you could ask them if they are proud of themselves, because allowing them to self-validate is more effective at building self-esteem.
Why “Toilet Learning” and not “Toilet Training”?
I use toilet learning because I believe children should not be trained to use a toilet – bribery, coercion, constant reminders etc, none of it works as well as letting a child learn for themselves. When a child is toilet trained the adult is essentially leading the way. And while it can sometimes work, it can have side effects that may or may not be visible to the parent.
1. Wanting to take back control of their bodily functions, your child decides to hold on to pee or poo. This can lead to chronic constipation, bedwetting when older, frequent accidents, or regression in the future (even years later, especially if a big change happens in child’s life for example starting school).
2. Trust between parent and child, and the child’s trust in their own ability can be negatively affected.
3. Feelings of shame may surface as they fail repeatedly with every “accident; especially when met with disappointment or frustration from their care giver. Although, even when supported emotionally through these failings, if they go on long enough, it can have a detrimental effect on children’s self-esteem.
I don’t mean to scare parents with all these side effects and horrible stories of childhood trauma I just want you to really stop and think about your child’s needs. Every child is different, and every child will respond differently to toilet learning. Do not compare your child to anyone else and most importantly of all do not let outside pressure push you to toilet train. Let your child lead the way. Trust in their ability. If you do this, I promise you it will be the easiest experience for everyone.