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Potty Training Can Be a Stressful Time, But You Can't Force It Either

24/05/2016 10:01 | Updated 24 May 2016

Right now I am feeling a little under pressure because my son is starting pre-school in September and one of the prerequisites is that my child has to be potty trained. With my first born I managed to get him to pee in the potty, but faced real resistance when it came to pooping, he just point blank refused. Initially I was relaxed but the demand for progress was coming from my husband. Then our son went to Sweden to stay with his grandparents and came back in pants fully potty trained. I was glad but felt a residual sense of failure, too. Potty training was my responsibility as his primary carer and mother - surely.

With my second child I went through the same process and he really enjoyed peeing in his potty, but when it came to pooping just like his brother he was not having it at all. At the same time he would nod enthusiastically and say: 'Poo in potty not nappy', but it made no difference. And there was no point using a stern voice or bribing him either. He was used to pooping in the nappy - it was comforting - and by the time he realised he needed to go it was too late. Then I put him in pants, which he liked but the accidents ensued and he pooped in his pants, which was distressing for him. Then I let him go commando and he pooped on the floor, which was even more traumatic for all parties concerned.

I recall another mother who also had to potty train her daughter before she started pre-school and literally a few days before school was due to start she had a quiet conversation with her daughter and it all happened quite naturally - I was stunned.

The other day my son was in his pants; he looked at me anxiously and said, 'Mummy I need a nappy.'

To which I replied nervously, 'Do you need to poop?'

'Yes,' he nodded emphatically. Then he sat on the potty and did the deed. Well the feeling of joy was indescribable, I was literally jumping up and down on the sofa and whooping and clapping. I even took a photo and he beamed at me with a sense of pride showing a V sign. It was a lovely, funny, poignant moment.

The next day he came to me after he woke with a bulging nappy and I knew he'd pooped in the night.

You just can't force these things it will happen when it will happen.

If the pre-school didn't impose such strict deadlines it would take the pressure off. My husband keeps on reiterating that his place at the school is in jeopardy if I fail to get him to poop in time. It's stressful for me and in turn makes him anxious, too. So I have decided to back off.

Just as a baby rolls over and then crawls and finally walks so a baby will transition from nappy to potty to toilet. I wonder though if comparisons with other children in their peer group puts added pressure on mothers unwittingly; this happens inevitably but children develop at different rates.

2016-05-24-1464051829-4683089-W3D38Sennadrawing.jpg
Drawing of my second son when he was several months old (pen and ink on A3 paper, 2014)

It's May and it's not long to go before his first term starts in September. My friend's daughter is a bit older than my son and is fully potty trained, but I am not going to compare. My son has made a start in the right direction. It's a great start in my humble opinion.

A few weeks later when I relaxed and backed off all of a sudden he went to the potty by himself and removed his pants on his own as well. I think he didn't like being forced to sit on the potty, it was something he had to do on his own without assistance. Pressuring children to do anything usually backfires spectacularly and is counterproductive. He might still have an accident now and then but it's to be expected, he's almost there; although at one point I thought it would never happen - I am so relieved it has. And the prospect of no more changing nappies - what bliss.

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