The Toilet Learning Journey – Setting Your Child Up For Success

By Laura Morley

If I’ve learned anything in my 13 years as a mum, it’s that the joy of parenting is found in the little moments. First smiles, first words, first steps, first time on a swing, first time in the ocean… The first few years of your child’s life can feel like such an adventure of exploring and growing. That day when my child started wearing underwear for the first time and wanting to sit on the potty or toilet, was a bittersweet moment.

I felt relief in knowing that the nappy stage was over. No more running after my toddler to convince them to lie down for a nappy change. No more lugging a nappy bag everywhere we went. No more smelly nappies.

But for me, it was the realisation that although my child would always be “my baby”, they were becoming their own independent little person. They were growing up before my eyes and this was another one of the moments that I could choose to wish away or to enjoy.

As a child approaches the eve of the toilet learning journey we can experience a range of emotions. As a parenting coach, many parents come to me at a loss with what to do. They will often tell me they are unsure and reluctant as they approach the next step. It is the uncertainty of not knowing exactly when their child needs to wee or poo. Not knowing whether they were able to read their body signals yet or not.

The fear of losing patience. The fear of saying the wrong thing that puts them off.

Many kids will start initiating potty visits; they will happily sit on it, then get off and wee shortly afterwards on the floor. That is part of the learning process. Just like learning to walk or talk your child needs to practice. But when wee puddles end up on the floor regularly throughout the day, it can leave a child feeling discouraged.

The question is not “can they release wees?” – they already have done this in their nappy for some time. But the skills they are learning are to:

+ read their body

+ acknowledge and respond to their body signals

+ release the wees in a toilet or potty

This can feel like a huge adjustment when they are used to having their usual warm padded nappy close to their bottom and weeing or pooing in it while playing.

To set your child up for success here are some keys:

Make learning to use the toilet a game

The moment they feel anxious or nervous, it will make it very tricky to relax and release on the loo. You can use a doll that has water go in its mouth and water come out the bottom, to model to your child what they are going to do.

Show them that using the toilet is a normal part of everyday life

If they follow you to the toilet, then talk with them about the process using age appropriate language. Encourage them to sit on the potty while you are sitting on the toilet,

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