Toilet training can be daunting for a first time mom… and you never quite know how to get started.

The boys skipped the potty and went straight to the loo. My little girl however had severe anxiety about using the loo for a poo, and so we did use a potty in the initial stages of training. Find out which works for your child as this process needs to be as easy as possible for them- and for you.

My oldest trained quickly and easily at 3 years old. Within three days he got the hang of it and soon night trained as well. My younger son was a little different, we trained him earlier at two and half and it was definitely a lengthier process.  It was …well… a little messy as can be expected. I recall an incident when we had left him too long on the loo, eventually he called out to say he was done. Nothing could have prepared me to the sight I was to find.

I walked in and found poo…well just about everywhere… it was on the seat, on the outside of the toilet bowl, on his hands, on his legs, on the toilet roll holder, on his pants… well …you get it- EVERYWHERE! I could not understand what he had been doing that ended with crap everywhere! #boymom.

 I began to scold while I unrolled the toilet paper looking around at what had just happened. As I was about to attempt clean up, I gagged. And that was it for me.

Look I can deal with a lot of stuff, but this went over the line for me!  I dropped everything and ran outside gasping for air while shouting out for my husband! He came running due to the desperation in my voice I think …

I could not even speak, while continuing to gag and gasp for air, I just managed to say my son’s name, and pointed inside the house. When my ever-so-calm-under-pressure husband got to the bathroom, I heard him say, “ Jisssllaaaaaaik man! What’s going on in here?” (Jislaaik is an Afrikaans expression of surprise). After he wiped down a few areas he just repeatedly said ‘Jislaaik no man….Jislaaik.’  Eventually he decided it would be easier to put my son in the shower, and it seemed necessary!

My little one did not have any idea what the fuss about and just went about his happy self while my husband and I tried to deal with the trauma we had both just experienced. About ten minutes after the incident we began laughing hysterically as we agreed it was something we should have expected when he was so quiet for such a long time.  These are the situations that you have no choice but to giggle about as we think back! Parenting does leave you with some pretty interesting memories!

Based on these and other ‘fun’ experiences I thought I’d share some advice that may help to avoid a ‘shitty’ situation- before you begin:

  • Consider the age of your child- in my experience 3 or 3+ is the easiest age.
  • Talk to them about it before you start the process.
  • Let them watch videos on how the body works or toilet training songs – (this was helpful with my little girl as she had anxiety regarding make a poo in the toilet).
  • Consider the weather. Don’t attempt to train the child during winter months.
  • Remove the nappy first thing in the morning and put on big boy/girl pants, and let the child play. An accident (or few) will happen as the child is still learning to make the connection with the feeling of a full bladder/need to go. But this is part of the learning process so don’t be alarmed.
  • Take the child to the loo every 30-60mins, just to try, and to adjust to the feeling of sitting on the loo. They may need some time …so read a short book, or sing songs etc. the distraction may ease any anxiety.
  • When training boys, turn them around to sit facing the back of the toilet (it is easier for them to ‘aim’.)
  • Be aware of flushing- some children are afraid of this, so ask your child first if they would like to flush the toilet. If not, wait for them to leave the bathroom so as not to scare them.
  • Use a reward system-

The star chart system worked really well with all three kids. I created a chart with the days of the week and two columns (one for wee and one for poo). Every time they made a wee they got one sticker on the chart, a poo meant two stickers. Praise, praise, praise them every time they get a sticker. If an accident happens, don’t remove a sticker, just tell the child its ok and to try for more stickers later. Let the child count the stickers. We had a goal – for every 10 stickers they were allowed a treat – a sweet/ ice cream etc. This helps keep them motivated. Once they get the hang of it, and accidents become less frequent I adjusted the goal. This time if they went to the loo properly without any accidents they could get a bigger treat, like a small toy. (I purchased some from crazy store and kept it ready, things the child enjoys…a fishing game/board game/craft kit)

  • If training isn’t working take a break and try again.  Remember they sense your frustration so you need to remain calm at all times.
  • Do not put pressure on yourself or on your child…they are individuals and will train on their own time.
  • Have patience, put away all carpets if possible and allow as much outside play time during the first day or two… if possible, keep the child with you – or train during school holidays.
  • Remember to consult a doctor should you suspect there may be a physiological problem or if accidents persist beyond the age of 5.
  • And last but not least, from one mom to another, just know mama… you will survive this!

Hope you find these helpful!



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