Okay, so here’s the deal: Quite frankly, I would happily have left my Veggie Tots in nappies until they turned around and said, “You know what, Ma? I think it’s about time I gave these things up. The other kids at Varsity are starting to look at me funny. Hey, pass me another beer?”
I don’t want to wrench their childhoods away from them and instill major anal retention issues for which their future wives will probably curse me. But more than that, I just don’t want to have to deal with the practicalities of racing against time and target practice.
Predictably, common sense and societal pressure prevailed, and I embarked on the journey so many brave parents have trod before – looking carefully where I stepped, of course!
Potty training: The Early Days
Things you might find useful:
- A potty or a toilet insert
Toilets are made for big tooshies, not baby ones. Not all children take delight in sinking their gossamer bottoms into the big bowl, trying to “touch the wet” (my eldest does, but he also likes plain, cold spaghetti and sleeps with an electronic car toy).
Make the toilet experience as comfortable as you can for your tot by using a potty (designed for little bums) or fitting a tot-sized seat onto your toilet. (There are a range of these available in baby shops.) A low stool or a pile of old phonebooks may also be handy in helping your tot reach the seat, if your insert does not have a step built into it.
- Leave your phone in the living room
Toilet training – especially in the early days – needs your complete and undivided attention. Besides, do you really want to be the parent who says, “Sure, I’d love to see that movie. How about 5pm tom– no, sweetheart, put the toilet brush down. I said hands out of the toilet! I said HANDS OUT! Dammit, Carla, I’m going to have to call you back”?
Cute little ones for wees and big, shiny ones for poos. Make a big deal about the stickers, using them as incentives and positive reinforcement (remember, it’s only a bribe if it encourages unethical conduct!)
Stickers can go right onto the deserving child’s freshly-washed hands, but sticker charts are useful too. A simple weekly calendar grid with seven columns (for the days of the week) and enough rows for your child’s toilet habits (or toilet attempts) should do. This can help the toilet trainee see the cumulative effects of his/her successes in all their colourful glory, motivating them on to improve their bowel control in order to acquire more, more, andMORE stickers (because these are the values we attempt to instill in our children, I know… but when needs must…)
Keep a selection of stories in the bathroom to entertain and calm your toddler while s/he gets used to sitting on the loo. A soft towel or a cushion for you can also make a big difference to overall comfort levels. Books that deal with toilet training are particularly apt. Bookstores and online stores like Amazon stock plenty of books on the subject aimed at our target audience (see link below).
Veggie Tot’s favourite Potty books
The Potty Caddy Book by Rachel Gordon and William Spivak M.D. (part of a kit including a sticker chart, toilet targets and your very own portable bog-roll dispenser)
Who’s in the Loo? by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds
What are your child’s favourite potty books? Please feel free to leave a comment below!
“This little piggy”, “Round and round the garden” and “Pat-a-cake” (or any creative adaptation of the bar games of your youth) will help to pass the time while waiting for your tot to get down to business.
Even mundane activities can be turned into exciting games: my three-year-old likes playing peek-a-boo in the bathroom mirror, and turning the tap on and off to wash his hands. These are used as bargaining chips and rewards for good toilet behaviour.
This one is for parents only, but by golly you’ll be glad to have it in the kit sometimes!
Now even younger brother (one and a half) wants in on the action!
The Bottom Line (wow, that never gets old!)
Every attempt at using the toilet should be lauded – nay, celebrated. Even if nothing happens, offer a sticker, song and dance, and lots of kisses. Try to be consistent and pray to the potty gods that they keep Junior on the right track.
Here’s a link to an article on how to toilet train your tot by personal example.
Here’s a link to some of Amazon’s popular potty training books for tots.