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The great potty training debate has reared it’s head again.
It’s popped up this time in a story about children starting school in nappies because parents … in largely deprived communities … were not parenting effectively.
For all its rather scare mongering tone I do think the story raises some questions.
I know of plenty of devoted, hard working parents … some of whom are very affluent … who have struggled to potty train their children, and particularly their sons, until they are almost 4 or older.
My mum was a playgroup leader in the small industrial town we lived in back in the 70s. She says the children starting at her playgroup at 3 were always potty trained. Not because she insisted on it but just because at the time children were always potty trained by 3 if not 2.
Now obviously back then far fewer mums worked. And I definitely found that potty training around childcare was tricky.
Despite my best efforts, my daughter, wasn’t one of those children who potty train in a week. We would just seem to have cracked it at home when it would be time for 3 days of nursery again and even though the nursery staff were very supportive, we always seemed to go backwards.
But I think the big change in potty training has come not with mums working but with the ever more super-duper dry-as-a-bone diaper “technology” that is now on offer and that we all demand.
We love diapers that keep our children from feeling soggy but the discomfort of totally sodden old-school terry towelling diapers was a massive motivation for even the boys under 3 to master the potty.
According to my mum some children … including me! … definitely used to struggle with potty training and take their time but, unlike now, there was no temptation to go back to wearing soggy diapers.
And it became a virtuous circle. Children hated wearing soggy diapers so they wanted to succeed at potty training, so more of them did and motivated their friends to do the same.
So what’s the solution?
Should parents all try to potty train before 3? Should they persist even if their children don’t seem “ready”? Is it easier to potty train early from cloth diapers?
And does it matter? Are children being held back in an important stage of physical awareness and self-control? Or does it not matter if they are still in diapers when they are 4?
But even if it doesn’t, there is another issue and that is the environment. The switch to disposables has had a massive impact on waste world wide. And maybe, if we care about the future of the planet we really should consider potty training as early as possible.
What do you think? Do share your thoughts …
And if you’re looking for more thoughts on parenting do check out our other posts …