Oh it’s been another action-packed week for me and Birdy.  We’ve been fully immersed in toilet training this week.  (I had to wait until the flower-girl thing was over – didn’t want any accidents going down the aisle.) There’ve been some emotional highs and lows, let me tell you, but we’re starting to see some success.

This isn’t my first attempt at toilet training. We actually had a go about six months ago and didn’t get anywhere.  Birdy just wasn’t interested and after a whole week of sitting on the potty with no results, I got sick of cleaning up the mess and just gave up.

So what’s made the difference this time?  Bribery.  It was the only way I could get her interested.  Look at it from the child’s perspective: if they’ve been in nappies for their entire life so far, it’s a pretty big habit to break.  You need some kind of incentive to get them to make the effort.  So we did the sticker chart on the wall.  (It’s actually in our dining room so all our guests can assess Birdy’s toileting progress over dinner.) Every time she uses the potty she gets a sticker on the wall.  Then when the row is filled up she gets a treat.  So far we’ve handed out two chocolate eggs, one toy fox, and the big final prize for when the whole chart is filled up is a pretty pink Disney Tinkerbell bike helmet.  Even without the rewards, I think the stickers have helped her to see her progress and feel like she’s achieving something.

Everybody wants to know if there’s a ‘right’ time to do toilet training.  Experts say there’s a window of opportunity between about 20 and 36 months, but every child is going to be different. A lot of people told me that when they’re ready you can train them in about a week and I’ve certainly found that to be the case.  According to the experts, the signs to look out for are:

–       when they’re showing interest in toileting and bodily functions

–       when they start telling you that they need a nappy change or that they’re doing a wee

–       and if they’re staying dry for longer periods, because that means they’re starting to exercise control.

But in our case, none of those things were particularly relevant, so my advice is just to have a go and see if it works.  You certainly shouldn’t do it when the child is already stressed, like when you’re moving house or they’ve just started at childcare.  And you also shouldn’t put any deadline on it, like expecting them to be trained before the new baby comes, because you don’t want them to feel pressured.  But you’ve also got to consider when you as the parent are ready, because it takes up so much time and energy and you’ve got to clean up all the mess.  Personally, I think there should be a sticker reward system for the parents – clean up five accidents and reward yourself with a caramel latte and Double Choc Tim Tam.  Works for me.

When do you think is the best time for toilet training?  Did you use a reward system with your kids?  And what do you do when you’re out at the shopping centre and your child has an accident?  Did you use pull-ups or go straight to underpants?  What was the secret to your toilet-training success?

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