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Potty training the Sister Lilian way

Written for Baby City by Sister Lilian

Hindsight is wonderful! If you could see into the future, you would see some of the things that hindsight will one day show you, making you wish you hadn’t sweated the small stuff. Potty training, for one, would not loom as this huge parental concern!

Have you ever seen a CV listing achievements like ‘potty trained in 1998’, ‘started eating solids in 2001’ or ‘slept in my own bed at the age of six months’? Definitely not – and if it’s not going to be on your child’s CV one day, it’s probably not worth fretting about.

You know, there is a very fine line between encouraging your little one to master a wide range of skills, and putting her under undue pressure to perform when she is simply not ready, or when it is of no importance at her particular stage. In some things, it’s best that parents let nature take its course. Potty training is one such instance.

We all show signs when we need the loo. Restless behavior, pinching legs together or crossing them, maybe even cupping a hand to the relevant area. From early on, you’ll notice these signs and other typical behaviour when Baby is passing urine or having a bowel movement. In fact, a movement (excuse the pun) called baby signing teaches parents to look out for these cues and to almost never use nappies! This, I believe, is taking things too far in the other direction – just who is potty trained in this case – the parent or the child?

While this type of close observation of Baby often supports excellent communication, it isn’t necessarily what you should be striving for. Coming out of nappies, being aware of the signals of her body and progressing from potty to baby toilet seat and eventually to the ‘big loo’, is not, and should never be, an indication of your toddler’s mental or physical progress. Yes, little ones need adequate brain-bladder and brain-bowel maturity to be able to successfully ‘potty train’, but that has nothing to do with intelligence!

If your child has been under undue pressure to potty train, or she has been rebuked or punished for taking her time to learn to use the potty, this can delay toileting significantly – precisely what parents are trying to avoid. A forceful approach to potty training often also has other undesirable spin-off effects, like clinginess, whining, separation anxiety and attention-seeking behaviour. My advice? Unless your little one has urinary tract infections or severe emotional issues, simply go with the flow, being open about your own habits so that she learns by example.

March 2, 2017

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