Friday, August 08, 2008

Recent encounters with "potty training"

I recently encountered two stories.

1. Child, aged almost 4 I think, is "potty trained" and has been out of nappies for 6 months. But pees themself, every single day, several times a day, and the mother was wanting to get ideas about getting the smell of old urine out of the child's nice shoes. Mother did not want to go back into nappies because the child's pre-school setting is not supportive of children of this age not being "potty trained"

2. Child, aged 4 and a bit, I think it was, is also "potty trained" and has been for a long time, but every day hides themself in a corner of the house/pre-school in order to do a poo in their underpants. Fine to use the toilet for peeing, but not for pooing. Mother wanted advice about stopping it happening.

My apologies if these stories are somewhat TMI. I was horrified to encounter them. What would either of these children have to do to persuade their parents and carers that they are not in fact ready to use the toilet? The competitive agenda which seems among some parents to begin at birth (oh, what did (s)he weigh? Our little Jimmy was 8.8lb!!!) moves on, in matters like elimination, to extreme coercion and presumably humiliation for the children who just aren't ready at the "average" age, or the "competitive mum's moment of thinking it's time" age. Or maybe these are parents who are overwhelmed by What Will People Think.

It seems to me that having pull-ups either full time or to put on when needing to pee/poo would be a much more respectful solution. And taking the whole process at the child's pace rather than rushing them, since these particular children clearly aren't doing brilliantly well with the rushed approach.

It also struck me as very interesting that when people say confidently "ah yes, little Billy was completely potty trained at 18 months", they might not mean by that what I think they mean. I always thought that "completely potty trained" meant that a child knew when they needed the toilet, and would take themselves off to the toilet/potty, and then would shout for loo paper assistance if necessary. But actually, it is becoming clear to me now that a mainstream "potty trained" child is simply one whose parents have removed their nappies. Some of them are indeed "completely potty trained" in my sense of the word, and others are absolutely not. *deep shuddering sigh*


brenda said...

Oh wow. What can you say that really? "The best way to keep shoes from smelling of urine is not to them peed on?"
"Have you considered why your child feels s/he needs to eliminate in his/hers pants rather than the toilet?"

How sad for the children.

emma said...

I said something along the lines of thinking that it would be better to follow the needs of the children, who are clearly not toilet ready, rather than the convenience of the nursery/pre-school staff or the expectations of other people.

One of the mothers certainly heard it. :-)

Leo said...

If parents have this problem is most likely because they took it at the child's pace already.

They did nothing to teach them. Then they panicked it was late and took the nappies off anyway hoping the children would be magically potty trained.

A child that poos on his pants at 4 doesn't need his feelings respected, though. He nees to be taught.

emma said...

No, Leo.

These, let me assure you, are conventional mainstream parents who did the whole thing with sticker charts and sweeties as rewards for going in the potty, and starting potty training at 2.5 like all the other mothers.

These are people whose children for whatever reasons (one definitely is a physical developmental delay from the description - child simply doesn't have bladder awareness or control at this point; the other seems to be psychological) haven't responded to the traditional potty teaching.

Would you have some good ideas of how to teach children of this kind? Ones who are terrified of pooing in the toilet (at least, I'm guessing that's what's going on with that one) or who are simply not aware of their elimination? It's very easy to say "he needs to be taught". I'm guessing those parents need to back off, keep their children clean, and then gain some ideas about how to do that teaching. Put some positive ideas here and I'll pass them on!

Elizabeth said...

My two started to use the toilet on their own (2 1/2 & 3)-and stopped wearing day time nappies from the moment they first went to the toilet-their choice. Saying that--it took both of them awhile before they would do a poo on the toilet. Neither ever had any accidents-but did not like the whole poo situation. So when they needed to-they asked for a nappy-I'd put it on-they'd do their business-I'd change them. No hassle, no fuss and they both came round to the idea on their own. It took one about eight weeks, another three weeks.

Sometimes I think parents just forget that children can be talked to and reasoned with. I know I was lucky enough to have a 2 1/2 yr old who could voice that fear-so I was prepared when the 3 yr old had the same dilema.

And really--what is the harm in pull-ups till they get more confident/capabale?