One of the most common misconceptions in my profession from parents is adults working with children in the early years sail through particular mile stones and stages of development (If only that were true!). The truth is everyone struggles from time to time, no matter what background they come from. There are no hard and fast rules to getting children to achieve particular skills because they are all unique and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. A lot of parenting is trial and error and that’s why it’s important not to lose heart when things don’t go how you imagined them to, remember most mistakes are minor and it’s always good to get ideas from others on what worked for them; it’s like building an imaginary tool box of strategies and drawing upon them when needed. That’s why discussion workshops from the parenting team are so successful, as they encourage parents to share what worked for them, enabling parents to try new ways of doing things that they may not have thought of or considered.
One of the milestones I struggled with was toilet training! There are two key things I learnt when I trained my daughter; one you needed to be decisive and pick the right time to start and secondly you needed to be consistent (really important). So when it came to toilet training my son I had a plan! It was coming up to the summer holidays and I had some time off work to concentrate on toileting. I knew that it had to be during period where there was no significant changes happening within the family and that we had no big trips planned. Not wanting to add to the pressure of toileting while out and about during the holidays did give me cause for concern, I love taking the kids out and about, (they are much better behaved); so I put on my Nursery Nurse cap and I started planning activities to do with the children at home…..
Making a list of all the different things we could do at home really helped relieve my anxiety about not going out on excursions, children who are busy and occupied are less likely to misbehave and less likely to keep asking to watch the TV. I concentrated more on outdoor activities as this would minimise the mess when accidents happened and would be less stressful for me. I had garden trays in my shed which I used to put different activities out; one had sand with diggers and trucks, creating a building site, soil in another with old plant pots and I created a water tray with bottles I collected from the recycling. My son’s particular favourite was dried pasta and lentils with pots and pans from the kitchen, he would spend ages filling up the bowls with a spoon and pretending to feed his soft toys.
If you don’t have a garden these activities can also be carried out on a balcony or in the home somewhere, where there is laminate flooring. A personal tip from me when you are toilet training inside, remove all cushions and throws, you never feel the same way about your favourite accessory once it has been soiled on! So expect lots of accidents and give plenty of praise, I always tell parents you can never give too much praise it really works wonders (until this day, my son expects a clap and cheer for his toileting achievements!). Parents have told me how behaviour charts have always been a good tool when toilet training, rewarding each step, manging their clothes, sitting on the potty, washing hands. At the eleventh hour, when I thought all the planning and preparation was for nothing, my son started to use the potty, the penny dropped as they say and you will be pleased to know we are back enjoying our days out again and boring everyone on Facebook with perfectly posed pictures!
Let me know what worked for you too so I can share all your ideas and suggestions in the next blog.
By Sue Brown