Go With The Flow – Our Relaxed Approach To Toilet “Training”

Does it ever feel like you’re constantly training your child?

From nap routines, to breastfeeding intervals, to weaning, to raising polite, well-moulded socially-acceptable little specimens who we can confidently take on outings to the Mall (er, yer, still working on that one!) There is so much we have to learn and so so much to teach.

Then, of course, there is toilet training…

What parents are not told – half the time at least – is that these little beings are self-regulating creatures and will FIGHT YOU AND YOUR EVIL TRAININGS in every form, every step of the way! The little buggers!

So we turn to books…and ask other people…who tell us to read books. Because the experts in the books are always right. Except your child doesn’t want to follow the book. So you consult a doctor…who tells you something completely different to what the books say. And you’re all confused, and start spinning into a hole of utter despair questioning “What is WRONG with ME? What is wrong with my child?!”

The answer – most likely – is nothing.

But it can be distressing and completely self-defeating all the same.

So as my son approached the dreaded “toilet training” age, I decided to sod the books and any special regime that would have the two of us barricaded in the house for days on end. No. Instead, I opted for the lazy way out and decided to do what my son has been asking me to do all along…namely, just chill and go with the flow (god, mum, you’re so uncool sometimes!)

Go with the flow and listen to him, his needs, his wants, his readiness to use the toilet.

So listen to him and take his lead I did towards the end of last year when he just simply started refusing nappies. Whether it be a power struggle, or whether they were making his bum hot, he just didn’t want to wear them for quite some period of time.

It was around the same time that he started wanting to sit on his toddler toilet seat that had lain around the bathroom for months. He looked so cute sitting on it. And he was so so proud to be doing poopie like a big boy!


This carried on well during our trip home for Christmas. We bought toddler toilet seats, and the majority of his business was done in the bathroom (bar a few carpet-piddle accidents…what can you expect?)

“Wonderful”, I thought! We’ll have him “trained” in no time.

Alas, I was wrong, and we regressed massively on our return to the UAE. Whether it be the travels, the fact we moved house (again!), or that he had just kind of gotten over the thrill of toilet sitting – he just didn’t seem as keen for a good couple of months.

Ok fine, its fine, I decided, and we went back into nappies for a while as I quite frankly couldn’t be doing with public toilet incidents or wet clothes in the late stages of pregnancy.

The interest came back though – especially when I bought him his own stool to carry around the house, allowing him to “take himself” so to speak. It’s been up and down with a few accidents here and there (and I am certain a few very intentional nappy poopies!) but overall, I am pretty confident when I say he is “trained”. We’re out of nappies and into pants. Oh yes, the famed Robot Pants!

Indeed he is so trained that we had a rather embarrassing incident at the pool last week when he got out shouting “Mummy, I need a wee wee! I want to wee in the plants” (we may have had an emergency wee in our herb garden the day before…)

I explained that we must wee in the toilet, but “NO!!! I WANT TO WEE IN THE PLANTS!!!!” There were tears, there were hysterical screams as I dragged him to the toilet as he tried to unclothe himself. People stared. It was delightful. He did not get to wee in the plants, and the result was that we had to leave. My poor little naturist…

So yes, I guess it’s been a longish process, but I’m glad it’s been a natural process (hello plant wees) that has been teaching him to listen to his body. I know my son. He is stubborn. I knew from the outset that he would have hated formal “training” and resisted it every step of the way. I knew, too, that he likes to feel in control. So control over his body and his use of the potty is something he has been given. It’s not been regimented (though there has been a lot of encouragement and praise), and that has worked well for us in the organised chaos that is our life.

Because really, toilet training is a MASSIVE step. Unlike natural reflexes such as swallowing, listening to your body and knowing when and where to go is a huge conscious leap for a little one. And for sure it needs lots of time and patience on both sides…(something neither of us have in bucket-loads!)

So, as you may have guessed, this is not a “tips on how to train your toddler” post. Nope. Instead it’s a post to encourage others to just “go with the flow” if you feel you can’t deal with one more guide or special routine. Don’t spend a fortune on books. Sod all the contradictory advice. Stop fretting and worrying over something that will come naturally when your little one is ready.

It. Will. Come.

And who knows, they may just surprise you! (just hopefully not in the form of a stray nugget on the floor!)

Abbey x

(A Go With The Flow Parent Of The “Wingin It” School Of Parenting)

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