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.
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.
#3 Everything becomes a toilet for your kiddo ― everything!
Potty chairs and toilets have a hole where “wee wee” and “poo poo” go into. You probably shared that nugget of info with your kiddo when you gave him the Potty Training 101 talk. As helpful as it was, trust your tot to find the loophole in it.
While he might have grasped the “going to the toilet” concept, he might not have absorbed the “toilet only” part of it yet. So, everything that has a hole is automatically a toilet. This includes ― but is not limited to ― your coffee mug, a treasured crystal vase, the dog’s water bowl, an open suitcase and horror of all horrors ― your shoes!
Some nights, junior’s bed will also turn into his own personal toilet. Don’t be surprised to get roused in the middle of the night or wake up in the morning to a bed, and child, soaked in urine.
Don’t be surprised to get roused in the middle of the night or wake up in the morning to a bed, and child, soaked in urine.
#4 Potty mouth takes on a whole new meaning
Once the potty-training taskforce has been set up, learning the lingo is next. Never will you say words like “wee wee”, “pee pee”, “poo poo”, “all done?” and “flushie” that many times in your life.
If junior is being difficult, you might even resort to breaking into a song to get him interested: “Tinkle, tinkle, little pee, in the potty you will be. Poopy, poppy, stink-o, in the potty you will go.”
By the way, getting your child to use the potty successfully even for one day is a big celebration for you and your spouse. But not everyone else around you will want to hear that story. And it’s definitely not dinner conversation. So, for the sake of others, put…um, a lid on it, please!
#5 You will start to sound like a broken record
The only thing worse than having potty jargon roll off your tongue easily, is using those words over and over again ― ALL. DAY.LONG.
Just because he’s out of diapers, doesn’t mean junior is completely on board the toilet-using train. You will have to keep asking him, usually every 10 minutes or so, if he “has to go”. You will say it so often, you will start getting annoyed by the sound of your own voice. Let’s not even get started on how exhausted you’re going to be asking the same question ad nauseum.
By the way, don’t forget to do the same before you leave the house. Because nothing tests a parent’s patience more than buckling the brood into the car and then have someone announce that they have to “wee wee right now”!
As you can see, potty training does take a lot of patience and dedication. But in the end, you’ll be thrilled to see your little ones gain control of their day-to-day activities and hygiene. Keep working towards that goal, but you might want to stand by your mop ― and that glass of wine!
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