Respecting Little Bodies When Toilet Training.
Usually when children learn, we allow their curiosity and natural inclination to govern how far and how quickly they acquire a new skill. We encourage them to use the spoon when they eat, but don’t force it. We sing the ABC to them but certainly don’t get angry or frustrated when they are not learning the letters quickly.
When it comes to toilet training why should we differ in our approach? Toilet training is asking a little human to change a big part of their daily life, in a fairly big way. Asking them to take control of their bodily functions which up to this point they have allowed to, well, just happen. So how do we take on this task keeping positivity and respect for our little one’s body at the forefront of our mind?
Speak with positivity and understanding – we know that language matters. When you change your baby or toddler’s nappy, you tell them what you are doing. Whilst they may not understand the meaning of “I’m just going to change your nappy now,” and “Nearly finished!”, they hear your tone and they feel connected to the process. When introducing your child to the potty or toilet, keep talking to them, ask them questions, and tell them what’s happening. “How about we sit here for a little while?”, “You’re doing great, do you want to read a book?”, and “Thanks for trying, you did a great job!”
Let them lead you. Encourage your child to let you know when they need to go. Let them walk to the toilet themselves, use a step, tear off the toilet paper and flush the button. Using a toilet and doing away with nappies is a huge step for your child, not just physically, but mentally. They are not just learning a new skill as the word ‘training’ might suggest, they are building the awareness and cognitive ability to consciously change an everyday behaviour. You know your child and you have your own style of parenting. Do what works – if stickers as rewards motivates your child, use them. If the Wiggles toilet song keeps them there and makes them feel comfortable, let them listen to it. When they’ve had enough, trust them and believe them. Yes, they may do a poo in their nappy the moment it’s back on, but that’s okay – respecting their choice is important.
So often we parents complain that our Terrible Two or Threenager has ‘a mind of their own’, or is ‘so strong willed’. How fantastic that your little one demands autonomy of their own body and feels strong enough to resist when this is taken away! One thing that may occur when you begin training, is that your beautifully obstinate child might refuse to wear nappies. However, they (and you) may not be ready to reach for the toilet training pants just yet, as their low level of absorbency still makes you nervous. Pull up nappies or training nappies that can provide the same absorbency as a nappy will set your mind at ease, but also help your child get used to the action of wearing underwear, and importantly keep them involved and in control of the process.
Remember it is your child’s body – we want our children to respect themselves and respect others, so try to guide rather than tell or enforce.
Be consistent and positive – becoming angry or frustrated won’t help your little one feel comfortable.
Be patient – every child is different, you may want them to toilet train at 2 – but they may not be ready until much later.
You can find more information about our nappies directly from my own experiences in my free downloadable PDF: ‘Five Things I Wish I Knew About Cloth Night Nappies’ by signing up to the
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Written for RAWr Nappies by Jacqueline Damen – Education Professional and Cloth Nappy Enthusiast.