|Learning to "Stay Dry"|
Toilet training. Those 2 words say it all! I really went into the process pretty confidently. I mean, they say girls are easy. All kids do this and I am a capable mother, right? No big deal!
Oh. My. Goodness! 1 year later after starting the process, and I’m still trying to tackle toilet training! Toilet training has been a real challenge for us, but I have heard from others that it went easily and smoothly for them. Every child will progress at their pace; however, because my experience was especially hard, I have acquired many helpful tips for first-time toilet trainers.
First let me briefly share my experience. Esther was the youngest in her gan last year, so most of the children were getting trained early on in the year. I think she really wanted to join the bigger kids and get positive attention, so she asked me a few times about wearing underwear and making on the toilet. I was over joyed and so proud that my first born was so ahead and smart. We started the process and everything was going great until she started losing enthusiasm and started having numerous accidents a day. I became too frustrated and put her back in diapers. Then 6 months later, the begging for underwear resumed. We were both ready to start again. This time she had fewer accidents but still daily accidents. Thanks to the virtual moms’ and other supports, we trudged onward. Now 6 months later, we are down to maybe 1 accident a week, which is a huge improvement. That is my summary, but I will go into more specifics in my tips below.
1. It’s not about the technique. It’s about the process.
I think I tried every technique: The technique where the child drinks and eats all day and you put them on the toilet every 15 minutes; the technique where the child sits on the toilet for hours at a time all day; and the technique were the child does not wear underwear all day; and they all had the same results. I believe that each child adjusts differently to this new lifestyle. Some children catch on immediately and others do not.
2. Accidents happen. Welcome to this fantastic club.
This was the hardest part for me. I was simply unable to cope with Esther’s urine on the floor or on other places. But it happened one time, two times, ten times, twenty times, and then I realized that this is just part of the process. I had to learn to embrace accidents. And along with accidents come the smelly laundry and of course the mess. One of the best pieces of advice that I received during this process is not to get angry over accidents. This is a real struggle for me. I naturally get so frustrated by each accident, but I really really try to take a deep breath and not be negative. Once I started to relax and not make a big deal over accidents, I noticed a positive change in my daughter. Now I just tell her to take off her pants and underwear and put them in the laundry basket, and I take care of the mess. It’s important for her to have some part in the clean-up.
3. Try and make it exciting.
On one of our toilet training days we spent some time making a big colorful chart to keep track of Esther’s progress. She had fun coloring and putting on stickers, and I had fun designing. Also, the new pretty underwear was (and still is) really exciting for Esther! We started off with one colorful package of underwear. Except with 3 accidents a day, 6 pairs of underwear did not seem to cut it. So I went to the store and bought a few more different colors and patterns of underwear. Esther was ecstatic! She literally played with her new underwear for an hour that day.
4. Success? Don’t talk about it!
You know how certain things are supposed to be kept quiet, like for example if your infant sleeps well during the night? Well this is one of those things! Every time my daughter was having a successful week with fewer accidents, and I would share my excitement with my mother or a friend, it would all go downhill. It was awful! And then I learned to keep my happiness to myself.
5. Find yourself a cheerleader
When I was toilet training Esther it was so difficult to hear well-meaning friends say things like, “If they don’t catch on in a day, it means they are not ready.” It was my first time doing this and I was insecure as it was and all I really needed was support. Anyways, my daughter had a set play date once a week with a friend from her gan. The mother had 4 older children and had done toilet training with her children several times before. She was my biggest source of support. Every week when I would see her, she would constantly give me support by telling me that accidents are normal, that I’m doing a terrific job, and that it takes time. She really was probably the only reason why I didn’t quit a second time.
Dear friends, I think the main piece of advice that I would like to impart is don’t worry. Your child will be toilet trained in the end, whether you have an easier time or harder time. Whether you have a small pile of smelly laundry or a colossal pile of smelly laundry, it will happen. The important thing is to know is that you are not in control so take deep breaths and enjoy the ride!
Best of luck to you!