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Parenting is Tough - Solidarity in Toilet Training

The hardest lesson I've learned in parenting is that I can't be an engaged and positive parent all the time. Not even close. Sometimes I get sick, tired or just plain over it. Sometimes I get so busy looking after little people that I forget to eat and turn into a hangry ogre.

Parenting is tough, no doubt about it, and parenting in a world of competitive coffee groups and social media can be even tougher unless we maintain perspective with other like-minded parents.

So here's some perspective that I hope you will overlay onto every other toilet training article I write. Consider it a fist bump of solidarity for those times when all the toilet training "rules" have gone out the window.

Toilet Training Realities

We all get frustrated

I have of course lost patience with her at times

An awesome mum recently commented on one of my blog posts about the struggles she was facing toilet training her daughter (along with raising two other under-fives) and within her post she said,

"I have of course lost my patience with her at times"

I felt like hugging her for that comment because, first, **honesty**, and second, OF COURSE she has. Those two words mean so much.

We simply cannot expect ourselves to be perfectly positive parents all the time...especially when cleaning up the fifth wee mess that occurred two minutes after we were told, "NO! I do NOT need to go potty!"

So, as much as I encourage a positive approach to potty training, know that I will never EVER judge you for falling off the positivity wagon. Because of course you will!

The grass isn't greener

Your kids is already toilet trained? Tell me more about your superior parenting skills

I hear from lots of parents who despair that their child is one of the last ones not trained at kindy/daycare/Playcentre/coffee group. They feel a lot of pressure over it, as it's often a topic of discussion among other parents.

If you're in that position you can:


Take that definition of "trained" with a grain of salt. Kids who are toilet trained early are usually not trained to the same degree as older trainees - they still need assistance and prompting. Keep in mind also that you're not seeing the soiled clothes heading home in plastic bags and you're not privy to the reversions that commonly happen.


Remind yourself that your child's ability to sit on a loo is in no way a reflection of your self-worth! Some parents love to brag about their child's milestones but it's best to work to your child's developmental stage - we're all different and do things at different times.

Stepping back isn't failure

I think potty training can wait

Another common thing I hear from parents is guilt over reverting back to nappies. They preface this admission with things like,

"I know it's a big no-no but.."

NO! It's not a no-no. Sometimes stepping back is the very best thing you can do. It can take all the tension out of the situation and allow you to revisit it at a better time. If you've gone back to nappies you have not failed - you're simply doing a reset.

You can ignore the don'ts

I read one potty training guide that said, "If you find yourself holding your child on the potty, you've lost".

Well, I know it wouldn't work with a lot of kids but I have held one of my boys on the toilet. We had a specific scenario going on where he had lost confidence, I knew he was moments away from going, I had exhausted my arsenal of incentives and distractions and I needed him to stay on the loo to show him he could do it. It didn't fit the positive parenting approach or any potty training guide on the planet but it worked. I hadn't "lost". In fact, it was a turning point in training him.

You know your child and you are better to trust your parental instincts over any manual ever written.

Guides are great but they are just that - guides. Do what's right for your family and your child and, remember, you're allowed to be human!

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