MUM SAYS Potty-training dilemmas I didn’t see coming

Parenting resources are handy when you need potty-training guidance, but nothing prepares you for those real-life surprises!

“When my son, Andreas, turned 2 last year, well-meaning grandparents and friends started putting some pressure on us to start toilet training him. As several of Andreas’ classmates were also being potty trained then, his playgroup teachers encouraged us to jump on the bandwagon.

Although my husband and I agreed that it was too soon to embark on that journey with our tot, we decided it couldn’t hurt to start by planting potty-training related thoughts in his head.

We decided to introduce the concept of using the toilet through a book. Though there were plenty of these around, we settled on Potty Hero, a hardcover book which takes a playful, yet practical approach to potty training. It features humorous rhyming text, colourful pictures, plus, reward stickers for when junior goes to the potty.  

Andreas loves the book and the easy-to-digest text was soon rolling off his tongue. Taking this as a positive sign, I asked him if he wanted to be a potty hero. “No thanks, I’m good,” he would reply quickly every time, rummaging through his book collection to find another read in an attempt to change the subject.

Then, on the advice of a potty-training book, we decided to give him a “live show”. This meant renouncing every little bit of dignity we had left as human beings as we invited our son to watch us do our business, so that he would model our behaviour.

Our toddler was more than happy to accompany us to the loo, watch us take the “throne” ― live commentary included ― and hand us the towel after we washed our hands. But when we asked, “Would you like to give it try?”, his familiar reply would be, “No thanks, I’m good.” 

“We decided to give him a “live show”…. We invited our son to watch us do our business, so that he would model our behaviour.”

What about clothes, I thought. Who can say no to cute underpants? I bought my son a bunch of underthings featuring his favourite superheroes and dinosaurs. I then put them on his stuffed toys and gave him a front-row seat to an underwear fashion show. He thought it was hilarious, but when it was his time to try them on it was a big, resounding “NO!”. “I don’t want to wear underwear, I don’t want to use the toilet!”. This time, his answer was louder and clearer.

I began to worry. How was I ever going to potty train a kid who doesn’t even want to entertain the idea of using the toilet? Was he going to remain in diapers well into his adult life? Who’s going to be his friend or marry him if he does?  

I knew my fears were irrational, but it didn’t stop them from popping up in my head now and then. All the parenting books said my kid should be toilet trained by the age of 3, at least during the day. Andreas’ peers were on track, but he was not and it was stressing me out.

I decided there wasn’t much I could do about it and as with everything parenting-related, I just had to be patient. My son was not ready, so I would not push him. He would let me know when he is. And he did – one year later!

A week after his turned 3 in June, Andreas walked up to me one day and said the words I’d been dying to hear for some time now… “Mummy, I want to wear my underwear.” “Yes, of course!” I exclaimed, unable to hide my excitement. And so our potty-training journey has begun.

It’s been a little over a month since we put our son on the path of diaper freedom (which saves us some money along the way). It has been quite eventful if I do say so myself. Here are lessons I’ve learnt to date that you might not find in any potty-training book…