When they asked the little girl where her home was she replied - Where mother is

Much Ado in the Loo

Published: April 19, 2006

It’s hard admitting when you feel like you’ve failed at something. I know I definitely hate it when I feel that somehow despite my best efforts, I’ve lost a battle. The battle I am referring to is the battle of toilet training with my toddler. I was told by so many mothers when I first had my son that I had to be prepared to wait until he is older to toilet train him. Many women told me that boys were harder to toilet train than girls. Hence, I took this on as a challenge of my own.

Why are boys harder to toilet train? Dr. Phil seems to think all you need is a day to toilet train a child (girl OR boy). Just coax them into using the toilet with a reward in mind. Parents were suggested by Dr. Phil to use a “hero” who would contact them by phone to praise them once they used the toilet (the role would be played by dad or a relative on the other end of the phone). This suggestion made sense to me. Who wouldn’t want to talk to their favourite hero if all they had to

do was use the toilet?

So when my son turned two, I purchased a child potty that he could sit on in the family room to get used to it before using the real toilet in the bathroom. This was a cracker jack toilet, too. It made flushing sounds and even had music which came on when it was used. How could this method go wrong?

I soon found out that although it was a good idea, my son, was more interested in the sounds it would make than actually sitting on it at all. He wore out the sounds before he learned that he had to “do” something in it first.

Next, I purchased a toddler seat that sits on a regular adult’s toilet seat, and encouraged him to sit on it for small increments. He learned how to sit on it while looking at some of his favourite books, and he learned how to flush the toilet and even how to wash and dry his hands. But low and behold, every time I would go in to check on him, he never once did any business in the toilet. I even used Thomas the Train, who is his favourite hero, to call him if he did use the toilet. He

told me, yes, he would talk to Thomas, but no, he would not use the toilet.

It’s now become a game. He is more than two and a half now and I am bewildered at what once I thought would be simple has now turned into a battle of wills with my toddler. He understands what I am asking – I know he does. And I tell him every time he uses his “pull ups” that he should want to be a big boy and use the toilet instead. He should tell me when he feels like he is going to poop. Unfortunately, when I am being notified is AFTER the poop and not before, which takes me right back to square one. How could I have been so wrong on this issue of toilet training? What am I doing wrong?

I spoke to a nurse a couple of weeks ago. When I told her about my concern, she just laughed. She told me what I already dreaded hearing – boys are harder to train than girls - don’t put such high expectations on it; it will happen sooner or later. It’s not a failure thing, she reminded me, it’s a nature thing, and all children learn at their own pace.

My son promises me each day that this will be the day that he will use the toilet, and each day I believe him. One of these days it will all fall into place, I know that. I have to stop pushing and just encourage without the pressure. I look forward to the day we can all have a good laugh about it when he is a grown man – when ironically, I won’t be able to get him out of there.