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First I would like to share my story and let you know that I have been there and only very recently come out the other end. I am here to affirm for you that there is light at the end of the tunnel and you are not to blame – in fact no one is to blame for the fact that you child didn’t become toilet trained until they were much older than ‘normal’.

I gave birth to my eldest in 2012, I was only 19 at the time. I had no idea how to be a parent and for the most part made it up as I went for the first part of his life.

With some help from my partner and my mum I quickly took to parenting like a duck to water. The baby stage was easy for me, so was the young toddler phase. But then came the age that we are told as parents our child has to be using the toilet. This was the one thing that I felt I failed at as his mother.

Jayden was 2 when we first started trying to toilet train him.

We used every technique, method or practise under the sun. I researched until my eyes were falling out of my head, I swear I read every manual, book, blog post, website etc. that guaranteed to toilet train your child. We tried Pull-Up’s, pottys, toilet seats, reward charts, bribery (yes, we went there), stickers, stamps. You name it, we tried it. I was driving myself crazy trying to work out a) what was wrong with me as a parent that I couldn’t help my child to use the toilet and b) was there something wrong my beautiful baby boy.

I remember feeling like the biggest failure as a parent. I felt like I had let myself down but more importantly let my little boy down. As I mentioned, I read everything I could find about helping my child toilet train and all it did was make me feel worse. SO many posts would take about laziness of the parent, bordering on child abuse by forcing my child to wear nappies beyond the ‘normal’ age and blatantly saying it was my fault because I wasn’t pushing the subject on him hard enough.

As if that wasn’t enough, then comes the stares when out in public, even at close friend’s houses. If my son needed a nappy change of course I did it straight away and out of view of others but whenever I would come back I would always hear the same old questions – isn’t he toilet trained yet? How old is he? Isn’t he too old for nappies? And the good old mummy shaming sideways glance. I received this in family rooms at shopping centres, friends’ houses, parties. You name the place and I am sure I received some form of judgement because my child was still wearing nappies.

Eventually, I just gave up and stopped trying so persistently to force toilet training on my son. It wasn’t doing any good for him or for me. This lasted 9 months. Until one weekend only 2 weeks ago just before Christmas 2015, my partner asked if he would like to run around naked and use the toilet today. His response was so excitable, and immediately jumped up and said ‘Yes Dad!’ A week later and he was totally toilet trained, taking himself to the bathroom and doing all the steps by himself and he could not be prouder of himself.

My son Jayden was 2 weeks off of his 4th birthday before he would even sit on a toilet let alone use it and within a week he is now totally toilet trained (except for nights) and hasn’t had an accident since day 1. He is so proud of himself every time he uses the toilet and I am as equally excited for him and equally as proud of him for being such an amazing little boy.

Sometimes kids just aren’t ready for things when you as a parent want them to be. Some kids walk late, some talk late, some don’t sleep through until school age and guess what….some don’t toilet train until much later than we are told is “the right age”. Giving up the battle of toilet training was the best thing I have ever done for my little boy and for my family.

So if you are in the same boat I found myself let me let you in on a secret: it is not your fault that your child isn’t toilet trained early, it is not your child’s fault either, you are not a bad parent, you are not going to ruin them for life and most importantly you will get there! I promise. I am a huge advocate that children will do things when they are ready no matter how much we encourage and prompt them to do things on our schedule.

I will never pretend that my life or children are perfect because they just aren’t. I wish I had realised this sooner because I would have been a happier more relaxed mum than I was.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and I just hope that it helps someone who is struggling like I was. You will get there, I promise.

Have you ever experienced delayed toilet training in your children? Please share any words of encouragement below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • My son is already 4yrs old and does not want to sit on the toilet or potty in the house but would happily use the ones in day care. I gave up trying as our last attempt ended in a massive tantrum which escalated and started hitting me. I can see that he’s starting to be aware when he passes wee, he just doesn’t want to do it at home. But the eyes are still looking at me when it comes to his delayed toilet training….

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  • there is so much pressure for your child to be toilet trained early and if a child is taking time then you are a terrible or lazy parent. Children with train when they are ready and it should be an enjoyable fun process.

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  • my 2 y/o has started trying to toilet train, he sits on the toilet no worries before his shower/bath but he doesn’t tell me he needs to go or anything like that, I am not stressed he will figure it out, he follows me all the time when I go so isn’t scared just taking his time

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  • Yes, people need to understand that children do things at different stages. You are a wonderful parent.

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  • So well said and is always good to read that you are not alone in this.

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  • Well said! My first toilet trained in a couple of days when he was two, so I thought it was easy and that I was an expert. But when I did all the same things with my second, they didn’t work at all! He took forever.
    I realised all kids are different and learn in different ways. Looks my third is going to take a long time too, but I’m pretty relaxed about it now.

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  • Thank you so much for sharing with us, I am very relieved to know that I am not doing anything wrong with my daughter, as she is 2.5 year old and not toilet trained.

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  • My daughter was ready and fully toilet trained at 18 months so when 18 months rolled around with my son I figured it was time, he wasn’t ready and I got frustrated wondering what I was doing wrong. Just after Christmas he started telling me when he had pood his nappy, I figured maybe he is ready, but again nothing. He sits on the potty and has weed in it twice (I think it was sheer luck) but doesn’t seem to even understand what needs to happen. I kept thinking that I am a failure as I only have my daughter to compare him to. After reading this I feel better, may just leave it until I know he understands.


    • Some don’t like the potty but will use the toilet if you hold them so they don’t slip at all. You can get a special seat you can put on your ordinary toilet seat until they are big enough to be comfortable with your ordinary toilet seat. You can put a step in front of the toilet bowl so they can climb up onto the toilet seat.

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  • My eldest two didn’t toilet train till they were almost four – I never felt pressured about it.

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  • Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I think we learn that children do things at their own pace, when they’re ready. Forcing anything will not help the situation. Your son toilet trained when he was happy and comfortable to do so. There’s no shame in that.

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  • People have to realise that ll children are different and forcing them to do things they aren’t ready for will only do more harm than good.

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  • Thank you so much for posting this article! I’ve been worried about my youngest and her toilet training going okay, then backwards, and seeing other kids fully trained and thinking I’m lazy or a failure. Now I know some kids just take longer. What a relief! Thank you!

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  • Bravo Sianne! Loved this article as I can totally relate to this exact situation! I had questions from ‘friends’, look from strangers and personal doubts each day until eventually in the middle of winter (not ideal for toilet training) Master 3 got up and used the potty without any issues. A week later the potty training nerves were gone and we’ve never looked back. Thanks for sharing!!!!

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  • Great decision to stop the toillet training Sianne ! It’s a pity that people can be so quick to judge and be so opinionated, it can be hard to close your ears for that. I remember my son was 4 and still poohed and peed in his nappy. To be honest I can’t remember how old he was when he managed to do it on the toillet. I do remember it took him quite long to stay dry overnight. We didn’t put him in nappies, just let him wet the bed. Think he was 8 when he was free from accidents in the night.

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  • My youngest son was the same in the end I just gave up. when he went to preschool he was one of the oldest in nappies within one week he was out of day time nappies and was great it only took another six months for him to be out of night time nappies. so yes your child has to be ready some are some are not but they will get their in the end. well done mum.

    Reply

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