Toilet training = Sleepless nights?

If toilet training is causing you sleepless nights then this article is for you. Despite anxious parents, grandparents, the interfering neighbour and a host of other people who think they knew better, children become toilet trained when they and only they are ready. No child can be trained until the appropriate nerve pathways have sufficiently matured, a process that is completely outside the influence of even the most brilliant parent or doctor. Once sufficiently mature, the process is controlled by the child's will to comply or his determination to defy, which in turn is dependent on the child's temperament as well as the skill and cunning of the trainer.
Toileting - Normal Development

During the first one and a half years of life, there is no proper bowel or bladder control, just like the toilet timing reflex. As a child approaches 18 months, this reflex appears to weaken and voluntary control begins to take over.

It is pointless to consider, serious toilet training until the child knows atleast when he/she is wet or dirty. The realization rarely dawns much before 18months of age.

In the months that follow, this discovery, the child becomes aware of his/her toileting needs before the event rather than after. This great breakthrough occurs somewhere between 18 months and 2 years of age, but with urine training, there is one unfortunate flaw. Although, warning is given, the child`s alarm system is only adjusted to tell off the impending puddle 5 seconds before it arrives.

By the age of 2, the amount of warning has increased and you can start to notch up a few successes. At about this time, bowel control will also become established. In some children, before urine control and in others after it.

By the age of 2 and half years, over two-thirds of children will be dry most of the time. The majority can take themselves to the toilet and handle their pants without too many mistakes.

At this age, night time wetting also starts to come under control. The child initially needing to be lifted onto the toilet in the middle of the night, and later holding on unaided. Although most children are dry and bowel trained by the age of two and a half, the whole procedure is still surrounded by a great sense of urgency - The child needing to go "NOW" rather than when it suits the parents.

Some Fundamental Rules
A child must first learn to sit on the toilet before he/she can learn to open his bowels on that toilet.
A child must know the difference between the feeling of wet and dry before he/she can be bladder trained.
A child must be able to produce some dry nappies at night before you can expect a dry bed.


The Untrained 3-Year Old

It is very difficult to deal with children who scream and protest if you as much as take them near a toilet, then wriggle off in seconds, or sit stubbornly but don`t deliver. After a year which started out gently and degenerated into forcing, pushing and punishing, the tension level is now running extremely high. At this point both toddler and parent have dug in for a siege and while in that position, neither they nor their bowels are likely to move.

The best course to steer now is to back off, cool down and put all the fights and failures of the past year behind you. Defuse the tension by suspending all attempts to train, as a first step. Once calm is established, all attention must focus on sitting. Gently and cunningly develop a good sitting habit, and then sow the seeds of success. Stay cool, wait and reward, when the big day comes. This approach will work with both the child who has never been trained and the one who regressed. With this latter group a medical opinion is wise, to ensure they are not over loaded and constipated.

When refusal to sit has become an insurmountable barrier to training, it is easy and possibly correct to interpret the show of hysterics as a sign of tension or fear of a painful toileting experience in the past. Whether this is true or whether they just got off on the wrong foot, an alternation of attitude usually secures success.

The majority of these apparently impossible toileteers start to sit when there is calm and their parents approach them in a confident and convincing way. Occasionally one needs to resort to a little desensitization. This starts with the potty in front of the television, the child seated with trainer pants in place. From here there is a gradual move to no pants, television and no nonsense.

You can`t go for wrong, just as long as you don't start too early, don`t force the child, and just take your time. As the poet said: "They also serve who only stand and wait."

Happy Toilet Training!