5 startling truths about potty training to know

Nothing will test your parenting skills ― and patience ― like potty training your peewee.

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When her son Nikhil turned 2 years old last June, mum Sujatha Rai, 32, decided it was time to potty train her little man. Parenting books had suggested it was the right time to do so, while his peers had already begun their potty-training journey.

It should be easy enough, Sujatha thought ― but she was wrong. Even getting her son to sit on the toilet was a challenge, never mind coaxing him to put on briefs in his favourite pirate prints.

After stressing Nikhil, and herself out for several months by sticking to a strict potty-training routine, Sujatha decided to drop the idea until her son was more ready for it.

“While the books say he is physically ready, I figured he might not be mentally ready for it, so I backed away,” Sujatha explains.

Fast forward six months ― Nikhil now shows more interest in using the toilet. Sujatha is taking the cues from him and expects it to be a long process. She encourages him to use the potty every morning and evening before his shower, and when they use the toilet.

Sujatha adds, “Some days he shows more interest in it than other days. I didn’t expect potty training to be smooth sailing, but honestly I didn’t think it would be this difficult either!”

If you’re currently trying to potty train your tot or just successfully finished doing so, you can probably commiserate with Sujatha. It’s great to get junior off diapers, but the long, arduous journey towards total toilet-using independence does come with some pot-holes. We round up the top-five ugly truths about potty training that no one tells you about.  

Junior is so used to doing his business in his diapers and having someone change it for him. Why would he switch it up when he has such a good thing going?

#1 It’s not as straightforward as you think it’s going to be  

The whole concept of potty training sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? You buy some cute briefs junior will be excited to wear, maybe even a potty or toilet seat in a fun colour and design. You have wet wipes on hand for the occasional spills. Then you will slowly cajole your tyke to remove his diapers and sit on the toilet/potty at different intervals and he will.

If this is what you envisage taking place, think again! First, you’ll have to do so much more than cajoling to get your cutie to take his spot on the throne. Don’t be surprised to hear this response from your tot when you ask him if he wants to go “wee wee” or “poo poo” on the toilet ― “No, thank you.” Junior is so used to doing his business in his diapers and having someone change it for him. Why would he switch it up when he has such a good thing going?

If you decide to go down the “rewards for relieving yourself” route (aka giving your tot a small piece of chocolate every time he sits on the potty), don’t beat yourself about it. You have to do what it takes to get them past the toilet door!

After you put them on the potty, you’ll have to wait for the “wee” or “poo” to happen. Pull up a stool or get comfy on the toilet floor, as this can take several minutes. You might think it’s not a big deal when it happens at 3pm, but remember this will also take place at 3am. And when your sleep gets interrupted, you will need all the patience in the world to get you through it.

All done? You’re not out of the door just yet! That butt isn’t going to wipe itself. If you haven’t thought about it yet, this means that you’ll have to look inside your child’s butt to make sure you’re doing a thorough cleaning job. Gagging yet?

Be quick though, especially if your son is anything like Charmaine Teng’s 4-year-old. “My boy likes to stick his finger up his butt or touch his ‘pee pee’ that’s dripping urine right after he has done his business to make sure he’s all done. So gross!!”

#2 You might end up spending just as much money as you save

Diapers don’t come cheap, so you’re definitely on your way to saving a lot of money when junior is fully toilet-trained. Once the diapers stop, so will the need to purchase wet wipes and diaper rash creams. This means more shopping money for mummy, yippee!

But don’t celebrate just yet. Those bribes to get junior to go on the potty will probably cost you a pretty penny. Especially at some point when chocolates just don’t make the cut anymore and he wants the limited-edition Paw Patrol set.

There will also be those occasions when you are out and your tyke just can’t control his bodily functions until you locate a toilet.

“Once we were in Paris and my 3-year-old peed in his pants because we were unable to find a toilet for him in time,” recalls Jaclyn Lim. “He went right there in the middle of the shopping centre. So, not only did we have to clean him up, but we also had to buy him a new outfit, underwear, socks and shoes. And no, it was not cheap!”

Moral of the story ― always bring a change of clothes for your toddler or it might cost you big time.