My very own experience…
Being in the Early Childhood Industry for about 2 decades and being a mother of 3 has allowed me to gather enough insights on the above mentioned subject matter. It is interesting to note that for my 3 children, my youngest was toilet trained earlier than my middle child, my middle child was trained earlier than my oldest girl.
Let me recount my experience with my oldest girl. As an Early Childhood educator, I talked a lot to all my children when they were young, especially my first one, the thrill of being a mother for the first time was firing away then. I remembered when she was a month old, she did not poo for 2 days, and that got me worried. She was laying on my bed and I asked her, “Mummy is kind of worried that you have not pooed for 2 days. Are you ok? Would you like to poo in the toilet?” It was random, and I thought she kind of responded. I took off her diaper and brought her into the toilet. Guess what? She pooed. I was shocked and she was happy. That was the end of story for soiled diapers. When she was 6 months old, we were out and on the way home in our car, she wanted to poo. I told her she could either do it on her diaper or wait for us to get home. She waited and went home to do it. I was totally impressed then.
As for my middle child, we were residing in Beijing then. My mum came over to help me with my confinement. She is a firm believer that children do not like to soil their bottoms and could be trained from day one. So she did train my son. Within a short span of 2 weeks, he would only poo in his potty. Staying in Beijing with a wonderful Beijing Ayi (helper) who believes in early potty training helps. She would diligently bring him to pee at intervals. By his first birthday, I told my son, “Let’s do without a diaper from tomorrow onwards.” Then I meant to do without diapers in the day and not night. To our amazement, his diapers were also dry at night. He took the message literally. What a delightful misunderstanding!
My youngest was born in Singapore with my mum staying next door. She came over to tell my confinement lady exactly what to do. Our confinement lady could not believe what she heard at first but tried anyway. Within days, she was able to signal us that she would like to poo and would hold till we bring her to the potty. It was such a breeze. I must say my youngest was the easiest. From day one, she was dry at night usually. Before she turned one, we just gave her a week notice and took off her diapers. By two, she was totally diaper-free, even when we were out and about.
My classroom experience…
I have personally helped and also coached parents to potty train their children. My observation is that it is easier to train children before they turn two. The first stage of life, before 18 months, according to Erik Erikson, children are building trust. If they do have great bond with their primary caregiver, they build a good foundation of trust. Between 18 months to 3 years old, they are gaining autonomy. If they are unable to do that well, shame will develop.
With Erikson’s theory in mind, children who have trusting relationships with their primary caregiver will feel safe to take their lead to toilet train. When they move on to the next stage, it could be easier or tougher. Our children may want to feel they are in control by using the potty. Or they may fight you as they want to be in control. It is important to talk to your children when you are training them. We do not want them to end up feeling shameful about not being able to go to the toilet in time.
When you want to toilet train you child, you could do the following:
- Talk to your child in advance
-> Mummy/Daddy is going to take away your diapers in xx time.
-> Please let us know when you would like to pee/poo.
- Bring them to the toilet during intervals.
- Do not make a big fuss out of accidents. Remember it happens and it is okay.
- Do not give rewards. You could compliment them by saying
-> Thank you for letting me know you would like to go to the toilet.
-> It is a nice feeling to keep your bumps clean and dry.
- Reinforce the good feeling verbally. We do not want our children to be looking out for rewards all the time.
- Understand that your child is keen to please you at this age, thus he/she may display anxiety if you get too nervous about toilet training.
- RELAX, they will get it.
With all the stories told and suggestions given, do enjoy going through every milestone with your little one. Every memory has a chance to become a great one if you let it be.
There’s no BEST programme but only the most SUITABLE one – Joyce Lim