Motherhood without the manual

Toilet Training Troubles

Toilet roll for toilet training.

One year. That is how long we have been toilet training, or attempting to, our youngest son for. Charlie has just had his fourth birthday and it was just after his third birthday when, after an earlier unsuccessful attempt, we decided to really crack on with it.

I didn’t expect that we would still be doing this a year later! There have been many times during this year when we thought we had finally conquered it, and numerous occasions of wanting to give up and just stick a nappy on him. Today was one of those days, irrespective of our reaching the illustrious one year milestone. Upon picking Charlie up from nursey and noting with joy that he was still wearing the clothes he arrived in, I quickly noticed on the short walk to the car the suspicious lump bulging from his bottom. I then proceeded to unwittingly stick two fingers directly into the mass of warm gooey poo which caked his pants and bum cheeks as I checked him, whilst simultaneously noticing the dampness running down his trouser leg – a double whammy of delight.

How long is toilet training supposed to take?

Now I know all children are different and take things at their own pace, and I’m sure Charlie will get it eventually. After all, nappies are not normally a feature of your average adult’s life. But I guess we were spoilt with our experience of toilet training our eldest son Dylan. Although at the time I’m sure we huffed and puffed upon hearing yet another story of a two year old being completely dry within a week, Dylan was using the toilet in the day time after a couple of months at three years old. Getting rid of the night time nappy was also surprisingly easy. I would imagine on average it takes a few months and is generally hit and miss, as it certainly is with Charlie. But you can’t help feeling a little alone and also embarrassed to admit your four year old is still pooing and weeing himself on a regular basis.

Sleeping Charlie, probably weeing and pooing himself.
Sleeping Charlie, probably weeing and pooing himself.

I must admit that I’m a little useless when it comes to the scooping of a poo ball out of pants and slopping it into the toilet, before attempting in vain to save said pants (and sometimes trousers) from an undignified end. My husband, bless him, valiantly does this part whilst I wail for the umpteenth time that “I can’t do this anymore!”. There isn’t much choice of course; we must carry on, especially as Charlie will start school in September. Whereas before we had hoped to have him out of nappies within six months or so, our goal now is to crack this before September. Of course Charlie doesn’t give a shit about any of that, and seems content to sit on his soiled bottom until the cows come home.

Suggestions please?

I have often asked other parents for their suggestions and we have tried many of them. We have done the all singing and dancing potty, the foldable toilet seat, the nappy over the pants and the copious clapping like seals upon hearing the first plop into the pan. Nothing has really worked so far with Charlie. We have tried telling him off and sending him to his room for a while; I know this sounds cruel but when you’ve tried everything else to no avail you get a little desperate. This only makes us feel awful though and like the worst parents in the world.

I do wonder how the fact that Charlie attends nursery full-time affects this. He can use the toilets there for a wee but doesn’t seem to be able to do it for a number two. Having said that, he can’t do a poo unaided at home and I wonder how much the nursery staff are able to help when he needs to go, lovely as they are. The guilt I feel when I see the bundles of wet clothes hanging in nappy bags on Charlie’s peg at pick-up time makes me want to grovel at the ladies’ feet.

Ultimately I’ve just really had enough now. I don’t want to buy nappies anymore or have my washing machine stinking of poo. I would also like not to fear that my son will be soiling himself at school. So although we feel we have tried everything, I am open to further suggestions. There is only so much shit my fingernails can accommodate before they are tainted forever.

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  • Vanessa

    I feel your pain on this potty training business. My oldest was almost completely potty trained at 14mo old, until he got sick with a tummy bug. Then again at two he was just about there, but he regressed because I was pregnant with his sister. He wasn’t actually potty trained until after he turned 3. We had to wait for him to be ready. My second child still isn’t completely potty trained. But, to be fair she does have nerve issues in her back that make it difficult…she will be 5 in October. My youngest is 3 and will pee 99% of the time in the potty. He refuses to poop in the potty. WHY?! I have even tried bribing him with a huge candy bar, still no luck. He will get there eventually…I hope. Hang in there, mama!

    • sarahbones1

      Thanks for your comment Vanessa, it’s good to know we aren’t alone! We seem to have mostly cracked it now (despite the occasional accident) and we have just ventured into no nappies at night time as well, which is a whole other minefield!

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