BY LILA HOPE-SIMPSON
Is it my imagination or are toddlers getting toilet trained later?
It seems to me that I am seeing more and more three and four year olds in diapers, or pull-ups, which are essentially diapers.
I have a few theories on this. I am picturing the boardroom or think-tank of a diaper company. They are concerned because sales in disposable diapers are decreasing once a child becomes toilet trained between two and three years of age. So the question in the boardroom is how to increase sales for the three and four year olds?
The solution of course, is pull-ups, which are virtually diapers marketed as underwear and bingo, everyone is buying in.
With pull ups we can delay the onset of toilet training but still feel assured we are taking a step in the right direction. The kids love the designs and characters depicted on the pull ups and feel proud of the fact they have graduated from diapers to semi-underwear.
Disposable diapers are so absorbent and successful in drawing moisture away from the body that being wet really doesn't feel too uncomfortable so the motivation to stay dry is virtually lost on the toddler because they can pee in their pull up and still feel dry anyway.
Remember, when you dress a child in a diaper, you are giving them permission to use it.
The cloth diapers today mimic disposables in their convenience and comfort but feel less comfortable when wet or soiled. Certainly the folded cloth diaper of years ago would be saturated, cold and heavy when wet, and far from comfortable. Those stiff rubber pants must have been quite a source of discomfort as well, but hey, our kids got toilet trained quickly and were highly motivated to graduate to real cloth underwear and stay dry.
The other major change in today's demographic is the necessity for dual incomes, so most moms and dads are both in the work force. It's challenging enough to meet all the demands of juggling work and family life, so toilet training often gets put on hold.
It doesn't have to be too stressful if you take it slow, have patience and realistic expectations. Think about what motivates your child and use that as a re-enforcer for toilet training. Some children like to have a story read to them while they're on the potty or a sticker if they are successful.
Remember, just sitting on the potty or toilet is considered a success, even if they don't perform.
Experiment with various potty styles or toilet seats to see what your child likes best. Small toddlers often prefer a separate potty chair suited to their size. Some toddlers are actually afraid of sitting on a toilet because they worry about falling in. Some are scared of the flushing.
You can also try a small toilet seat insert to make the child feel safer. You can even take this with you while you're out as it will fit onto any standard toilet and some kids like sitting on their own special seat.
One of the child-care providers in our program told me that she carries the potty in her van and if her daughter has to use it, she simply pulls over to a safe spot and allows her child to access the potty right there and then.
If your child has an accident, stay calm. Getting angry or using any form of verbal or physical punishment sends the wrong message and turns toilet learning into a negative, fearful experience. Just clean it up, change the clothes and remind your child to tell you the next time, and praise her when she does.
Don't worry they all get it eventually. It's natural to expect
the odd accident even after you consider your child trained so just be sure to bring a change of clothes with you when you go out.
Toilet training is part of growing up. At some point you have to just bite the bullet and make the decision to move on to underpants. You may have extra laundry for a while, but the message will be clear and the pull up will become a thing of the past.
Lila Hope-Simpson is the Director of the Home & Heart Child Development Centre and Family Home Day Care Agency in Wolfville.