Target practice for kids
It’s a week past lockdown and things are returning to some semblance of normality. Many of my friends have relished the opportunity to spend time at home, fixing and building, gardening and cleaning. Momentum for projects outside the home has slowed and sometimes I forget why I even started them. For those of us with young kids and no relief from day care or play dates, my heart goes out to you. Parenting is tough at the best of times let alone without the support networks we normally rely on. Here are a few ideas to help pass the time productively.
Toilet training for kids can be either a fearful trial or a lot of fun. I vaguely remember visiting a toilet that turned green when I pissed in it. Ever since then (I was about 4yo) I have been slightly disappointed every time nothing happens. Toilet training starts when kids don’t like wearing dirty nappies. This can vary but is usually around the time they start to walk and show interest in things about the home. The first thing to remember is to not make a big deal out of setbacks. Guilt around toilet training is often one of the first instilled negative emotions we experience, and is easily avoided with a relaxed and patient attitude.
I remember taking my young sons to the toilet when I wanted to go so I could show him how much fun it could be. I’d wee really hard and make the toilet turn into a sea of bubbles, or piss as far as I could and shoot a leaf or a rock. In the mens room, I’d squirt on the little urinal puck to send it as far as I could toward the drain at the end. I even taught my kids to shoot wee like a machine gun in stops and starts so they could learn control of the sphincter muscles necessary for controlling the flow. It wasn’t long before my kids were looking forward to beating me both for distance and accuracy (it’s amazing how far young kids can pee).
Toilet training is a consequence of discomfort so it’s no point starting unless you are willing to give up daytime nappies. Start by giving kids their own potty, which eventually should be placed in the toilet room. Find a solid potty with a bit of weight in it so it doesn’t end upside down on the floor so easily. Boys can have a ping pong ball with a face drawn on it to aim at placed in the toilet bowl. This is something that you can take with you to encourage kids to use other loos.
Alternatively a face or a target can be drawn / stuck on the back of the bowl. Pick the best time to sit your child on the potty for five minutes or so, after a bath or a feed perhaps. Ask questions regularly about their need to pee, and try to make it relevant to fun things i.e. when you’ve gone to the loo we can read the story. Patience and perseverance are your biggest allies, as is the knowledge that we all get there in the end.
And remember, pee is sterile, don’t be scared of it and don’t teach your kids it should be feared.