They won't drive me potty

DONNELLE BELANGER-TAYLOR
Last updated 10:29 20/08/2012

Toilet-training twins. Terrifying? Totally.

The process of toilet-training my first child was an epic disaster. We tried to fit it into a Christmas break when he wasn't at daycare. Having a time limit made it stressful, and raised his stubbornness hackles. Of all the things I would like to have done differently with him, toilet-training would top the list. It became a weapon in his arsenal, where if we told him off for something, his response was to stand up, look us in the eye, and deliberately pee on the floor.  

ARRRGH. I feel angrily guilty to remember it.

So I've been dreading toilet-training the twins for a long time. In fact, last night I had a nightmare about it, of the full-on "wake up terrified and sweaty" kind. I dreamed that my boy twin, Finn, had a "whoops" on the school bus, in front of my Form One art teacher. It turns out that she is my not-so-subtle subconscious representation of shame and inadequacy (long story).

It's ridiculous to have nightmares about toilet-training, but it's something I handled so poorly with my first child that I fear making the same mistakes with the twins.

Things are going more smoothly this time, though. I'm far more relaxed, and don't have an artificial time limit imposed by the schedules of work and holidays. The twins spend some time in nappies, some in undies, some as free as the breeze, and it doesn't matter. Toilet-training doesn't have to be a black-and-white achievement; it can be a continuum of small successes, and that's okay.

Rory loo

Uncarpeted floors are helpful, too.

Finn, in particular, is having regular success. Vieve is more aware, but more resistant. Her observant nature has determined that the point of sitting on the toilet is to repeatedly shout "Leave me alone!  Alone time!" I don't know where she got that idea. *cough*

Still, finding Rory-doll on the loo made it clear that the message is getting through to her, though she was unhappy that Rory-doll had to "wash his hands"... in the washing machine.

She is very excited about (togs togs togs) UNDIES.  I found Vieve dancing around the lounge apparently singing "I have pooey undies! I have pooey undies!" A few moments of questioning determined that she was, in fact, rather enamoured of her (My Little) Pony undies. Phew.

When we had a friend visit, a rather intimidating chap who dresses only in black, she excitedly fetched him a pair of tiny pink rainbow pony undies, and insisted that he have them. Pony undies for all!

So I'm quietly hopeful that toilet-training can be achieved with a minimum of fuss. It's about managing my own expectations, more than anything. Toilet-training twins? Totally attainable.

Some people find success with putting their kids on the potty regularly. Others wait until their kids decide they are done with nappies. Some parents find a middle ground. What worked for you? What challenges did you face?

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37 comments
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Milu   #1   10:59 am Aug 20 2012

We were quite lucky with our first son... he didn't take long to toilet train. Although it was definitely a process, he would take two steps forward and then one step back. But he was definitely (daytime) toilet trained a few months before he turned three.

But I understand that children are different and our second bundle of joy may take longer. We've got friends whose first son was toilet trained in a week. With the second one they've been trying over ONE YEAR!

HGF   #2   11:18 am Aug 20 2012

My friend waited until her daughter started to become curious about what the toilet was for -it meant she spent longer in nappies than other children her age but my friend informs me it made the whole process a lot easier. Her second is having a bit more difficulty but I think she is aware of how it's supposed to work, she just doesn't always realise to ask for the toilet before she has an accident. She does love her "big girl" knickers though... I have a two-year-old nephew and he is already asking to have his nappy changed when he has poos and he has a potty, though I'm not sure he's ever used it but I'll be interested to see how he copes since he is already aware at such a young age. Since I'm planning to start my own family in a few short years, I'm trying to pick up as much info as I can, am always observing other parents as closely as possible.

MC (the other one)   #3   11:32 am Aug 20 2012

The one thing that helped me keep calm (at yet another oops!) was the advice we got from a parenting course on potty training. The lovely teacher was medically trained, and told us that understanding the urge to go is dependent on the complete myelination of the nerves - that is, the myelin sheath which covers each nerve, in effect insulating it and ensuring that nerve signals go through properly, has to develop and completely cover the nerve. This happens over time from birth, can differ timewise remarkably between children, and until the sheath is completed, the messages can go haywire. In other words, don't punish your kid or yourself for not getting the message! Daughter #1: asked for knickers at age 3 cos all the kids at creche had them, daytimes were fine but I was still taking her to the loo at 11pm every night until around age 6. Daughter #2: about age 2.5, sorted in just over a week of her own accord, a few accidents but sorted by age 3 (very much according to her character - I DO IT MYSELF!) and daughter #3: knickers at age 2, loved the idea, but really not up to it. Hours of laundry urrghgh... Then this year (age 4) it suddenly happened, in about two weeks, I realised that the silence down the corridor was not dreadful things being done to the walls in felt pen, but wonderful things happening in the toilet! Yes I got stressed along the way, but I decided in each case that we would have nappies around until it was obvious we didn't need them, not according to when I thought we shouldn't need them. Every kid is different, don't make a big deal of it, and invest in swimming nose clips for the laundry! It is NOT for the rest of your life.

Sue   #4   11:47 am Aug 20 2012

Don't worry. There isn't too many 18 year olds going around wearing nappies. They'll get it when they get it.

Gretchen   #5   11:48 am Aug 20 2012

My now Mr 5 decided he wanted to toilet train himself at 2.75. Which decision happened precisely 1 week before his younger sister was born. Brilliant timing, mate! I was torn between feeling very proud of his decision, & thoroughly annoyed at the impossibility of the timing :-D As you can imagine, all went really well for one week & then forwards & back for a couple of months after that. We got there before he was 3, though, & with not TOO many tears or obviously overwhelming deep-seated emotional damage for either of us. (Apart from a very similar cry of "Would you please SHUT the bathroom door and leave me alone to go to the toilet?!" Gee, don't know where THAT came from, either...) Miss 2.75 is currently starting to toilet train again. By which I mean I've had enough of nappies and am trying to convince her that she'd LOVE to be a big girl in pants...& she's stubbornly refusing to do anything of the sort & I'm sure is squeezing out extra efforts the second we change any given nappy, just to make her point!!! I could regularly put her on the potty from age 3 weeks through to 1 year, & she'd happily do her business - she hated having a wet or dirty bottom, so the soiled nappy clear-up was GREAT at that time! Now, however, she couldn't care less, as there are FAR more important things to be done in a day than stopping to pee or poop :-/ Unlike my son, who for some reason was/is still never willing to pee anywhere except in the potty or toilet after the first few accidents while young (I swear he'd pop if he ever went on an overnight tramp in the wilderness) my daughter is more than willing to wee wherever she happens to be, so whenever she's in pants (or less!) I have to be in a state of constant vigilance :-/ Fun times

Kristen   #6   11:50 am Aug 20 2012

I trained my daughter when she was 20 months, over the Christmas holidays since it was the only time I had. It went fine. You probably didn't want to hear that.

She's just turned 3 and doesn't want to give up her night nappies yet, so we might work on that when the weather warms up enough to allow bedding to be dried quickly. All kids are different and I was just lucky with my daughter that she pciked it up quickly quite young. I didn't do anything differently to what any of my friends did: having the potty around all the time to sit on, watching us in the loo, nappy off, accidents before getting it right. But no stars or charts or what-not. Just an expectation that I think she could do it.

skye   #7   11:52 am Aug 20 2012

so true, it's the time pressure that makes things hard. And also that all kids are different. People so often give advice about how easy it was with their (compliant, unstubborn, easy-going) kid & say "you should do this too" but the reality is, only you parent your child, so you have to do your best with your understanding of their nature & the constraints (eg time) that you have with your own children.

Please, don't feel guilty about this time with Xander, parenting is an evolving process & you clearly are learning & optimising constantly. Just this in itself is excellent role modelling :)

gbsmama   #8   12:10 pm Aug 20 2012

Mr 2 decided himself that he wanted to go wees on the potty. Which would be fine if it was all the time, but its only when he feels like it. And, under no circumstances it appears, do poos go in the potty. So at present, he's wearing undies over top of his nappy to daycare, I let him 'go free' when he gets home until its time for bed when he puts another nappy on. Not my preferred method - I'd planned on toilet training him properly over the summer, when its easier to dry clothes - but I dont think you can tell them to wait!!

Kylie   #9   12:10 pm Aug 20 2012

Toilet training should be a breeze here - my daughter is only 8 months old and I already know EXACTLY when she is going to need the potty: EXACTLY two minutes after I put a clean nappy on her!

Seriously though, good luck Donelle. I know that when my nieces and nephews have been at that stage we have sent various packages from the US filled with underwear and the incentive of wearing Pony's/Superman etc has definitely helped. However, my 7 year old niece received a pack of underwear with the days of the week on them when she was training and her mother officially hated us, because she couldn't wear them out of order and she refused to wear anything else. Needless to say we purchased more and shipped them off ASAP.

Tracey   #10   12:18 pm Aug 20 2012

This is one of the times where it definitely pays to be lead by the kids. Forget about your previous experience, because it's done and you have obviously learned from it!

My daughter is three in two weeks (eek) and has been potty trained since December last year. When I first started trying to get her out of nappies I got a seat insert for the toilet and I'd walk in at random times to find her doll sitting on it. If I tried to put her on it though, all hell would break loose! She would freak and yell and scream. It was awful. Then one day we popped up to the Warehouse and let her choose a potty (pink of course, her fave colour). She then picked out her own stickers. As soon as we were home she asked me to put the stickers on it. Literally within a minute of finishing with the stickers she grabbed the potty off me and used it! Just like that she was potty trained. The part that surprised me even more was that as soon as she started using the potty during the day her night nappies were dry and she hasn't worn a nappy since.

Considering the performance every time we tried putting her on the toilet I thought training was going to be a nightmare, but she decided she was ready and that was it.


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