“Look mummy I poo!”
I ran upstairs thinking, “She’s done it. She’s gone off by herself and done a poo! She’s mastering it!” J was indeed sitting on the toilet – tick – leggings and knickers round her ankles – tick – but she was pointing to the floor. And there was her poo, lying on the tiles in front of her. How on earth did that happen? Well, she did most of it right.
“Well done darling! You are getting better at it, next time we’ll try and get the poo into the loo, but other than that perfect”.
“Don’t touch poo mummy”.
“That’s right baby we don’t touch poo. We learnt that the other day didn’t we? When you brought your poo to mummy. In your hand.”
As I clean up the poo I think how much easier it is to deal with than the one she did in the Wendy house. If Wendy had seen that she would have been peeved.
I have potty trained quite a few children over the years and have found that the best method is positive reinforcement. J and I have decorated her potty with stickers and gone to buy knickers that she chose herself.
“Really lovely? You want the ones with the glittery dogs and cats with crowns on? Not these spotty ones? What about these nice stripy ones? Ok.”
I’ve tried to make it a happy, exciting event, something to celebrate rather than dread. No more nappies – hurrah! At home we had a few days of dialing the heating up and trousers and knickers off – run free and naked my little toddler! They’re much better naked as they don’t forget that they’re not wearing a nappy. I don’t do any scolding when mistakes happen – that just makes children feel that this whole not-wearing-a-nappy thing is a terrible idea. The child would quite fairly think, “When I did a wee before I didn’t get told off but now I am, I’m confused and upset, this sucks, I want my nappy back.” This can lead to children just holding it in and then eventually having the inevitable accident but with a whole heap of tears.
That said, last time I did potty training I was thoroughly breezy about it, did 9-5 potty training, and then waved goodbye to the kiddies and parents as I sauntered off into a carefree, childless sunset. Now, it was an around the clock issue, with the added worry that I was mentally damaging my child.
This latest fear of potentially psychologically scarring the baby was borne out of a theory I had read. The theory is that when a child does a poo they could feel this is the first thing they can produce for you – a little present for mummy and daddy. But when confronted by said stool the parent would unconsciously, and entirely understandably, make grossed out faces and noises. And there it is – this thing the child had produced for the parents, a little piece of themselves in an all too literal way, and their parents are revolted by it.
How this hypothesis came about I don’t know. But the thing about all these ideas is they are just that – ideas. And there is no way of proving them. Is there? Well, it was in my head now, and each time my child did a poo I was totally conflicted. If I told her how lovely it was then she definitely wouldn’t feel that I think a part of her is disgusting. But, on the other hand, she may think that it’s something we should keep and possibly try and attach to the fridge alongside those rubbish drawings she does. I jest of course. I love J’s art and look forward to seeing where she goes after her Jackson Pollock phase.
So, welcome to the therapy book reading parents’ thoughts. Messed up aren’t they?
We have settled on a balance – happy to see the poo, when one lands in the potty. We wave at the poo and say hello, but don’t touch the poo, as it will give you a sore tummy. Thankfully she seems clear that poos are fine, but not to hold or touch. So with our waves to the poos and our dancing and cheering every time she managed to use the potty properly, we seemed to have managed to get her pretty well potty trained at home. Mostly. But there was another hurdle to overcome – nursery.
Which was a whole other saga, to be continued at a later date.