Whether it’s toilet training, the quality of films, or even politics, there are many people who say that it was “better in the old days”. These days, modern parents know how tough it is to get your child toilet trained, even with the help of technology like bedwetting alarms, mattress protectors, and more.
So the question is, have we gotten worse at toilet training our children compared to back in our mothers’ day? According to my mother we certainly have. “You and your brother were toilet trained both night and day by the time you were two,” she says. So, if this is true – how did she do it?
What was toilet training like back in the day?
Many of the mums I talk to keep telling me the same story; that their mothers preach about this generation of toddlers that breezed through the toilet training stage before the magical age of two. You only have to look at some modern parenting chat forums to see that this is no longer the case. They’re filled with pages and pages of desperate mums seeking the holy grail of toilet training success!
So, where are we going wrong? Or where are our toddlers going wrong? Or are our parents just… wrong?
The truth is, modern-day nappies are very efficient at drawing away that horrible wet feeling from the skin, making the wearer more comfortable. That seems to be marketing gold for companies producing incontinence products in NZ. But compare this to our early childhood (before we were two!) where it was cloth all the way. When the cloth got wet, you and your parents knew all about it. How many family photos have you seen with your nappy hanging somewhere down by your knees?!
Is new always better?
An interesting theory that’s been cropping up is that ‘new and improved’ is not always better. While these modern nappies are much better at keeping our toddlers dry and comfortable, that means they’re not experiencing the negative consequences of wetting themselves. In other words, they’re less likely to want to potty train. As parents everywhere know, getting your little one to do something they’re just not interested takes a heck of a lot longer than if they’re feeling co-operative.
In other words, modern parents are caught between the sensibilities of their parents and the modern technology that keeps their kids from knowing if they’re wet. What is there to do?
Dryness is the Goal
Once upon a time, I read a toilet training tip that has really stuck with me. It told me that “dryness is the goal. Going in the toilet is a bonus, but dryness is the goal”. If dryness is my new goal instead of tinkles in the toilet, shouldn’t we at least give our toddlers a clue as to what is dry and what is wet? Feeling the wetness and discomfort is definitely not helpful in the short term, but it does help communicate to your child that dryness is better.
In other words, the toilet training is actually a biproduct of them avoiding the feel of a wet diaper. This perspective really blew my mind, and it helped me get through toilet training my own kids. Now, I’m no expert, and I’m definitely not saying this would work for everyone! However, it’s definitely something to think about when you and your toddler embark on the toilet training journey together.
Maybe our mums really did know what they were doing?