Time to teach children to use a potty…

Should we really be letting toddlers tell adults when they want to stop using nappies, or is it conceivable that we can teach them how to use a potty or toilet? See below a blog by Cheryl Hadland, Managing Director.

I would argue that if toddlers in Poland can be taught to use a potty or toilet reliably by 18 months, without any damage to their psychology, that British children should, and indeed must be taught well before they go to school at 4, yet some children are going to school either in nappies or not properly “trained” according to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.  I’m sorry but we should be ashamed of ourselves!

Toddlers using a potty or big toilet are proud to do so, a bit step in growing up, giving them more freedom to run and jump (even with modern nappies), so why are adults keeping them in nappies?  Firstly I would say that parents enjoy the convenience and lack of mess of modern nappies – and I’m deliberately not calling them disposable, because they are predominantly plastic and will last for at least 400 years if left in landfill, or worse allowed to get into the ocean, so they aren’t disposable at all,. And secondly we aren’t born knowing how to potty train a child so unless a parent goes out of their busy way to find a course or study how to do it, this is a new skill requiring time and effort so it is relatively easy to give control away to the child and pay for relatively cheap nappies meanwhile.  And thirdly, staff and even professionals in day care, day nurseries and pre-schools are equally responsible, and have been taught (erroneously in my opinion) to leave it until the child shows an interest,but this can leave staff looking after 3-4 year olds, who should be out of nappies, in a 1:8 ratio instead of the 1:4 ratio used for looking after 2 year olds, and time changing nappies and cleaning up accidents that could be much better used for extending learning.  This hasn’t been a particularly conscious thing, I think it’s just evolved over time, and I’ve been just as guilty of this as anyone else in our sector.  I remember telling parents not to worry, no one at college is still in nappies, it will happen – oh dear!

But, it is time that parents and day nursery staff acknowledged that it is the responsible and best thing to do, train children to use the toilet or potty well before they turn 3, and this can start as soon as a baby is able to sit on one, as it does in many countries around the world or it can be done over 1-2 weeks concentrated effort when they are a little older.   It can be done in a fun way, through role modelling – watching their peers, through stories or a system such as the Potty Training Academy.  It is a technique, a skills that adults can teach other adults so we learn from each other, and then we teach the children.

Did you know that 4% of the domestic tax bill that we pay to the local authorities every month is spent on processing nappies, not just 4% of the parents bill, 4% of everyone’s bill plus all the nurseries and schools pay for commercial waste collection and disposal as well, so this is costing our communities a huge amount of money and also damaging the environment, no wonder one Welsh authority introduced an additional charge for parents training children late!  What could our local authorities do with millions of pounds of savings from only having to cope with half the number of nappies our toddlers have been getting through, I wonder?!

So who wins if we train toddlers to use the potty/toilet earlier?

  • The children – more independence and self esteem, more freedom of movement.
  • The parents – save on buying nappies, transporting them, storing them and then disposing of them, along with the plastic bags, creams, and bin liners, change bags etc. that you need when a child is in nappies. More space in their general waste bin at home.  Pride that you and your child did it!?
  • The staff at nurseries and schools – more time to spend with the children extending their learning rather than changing nappies, flushable poo is definitely a benefit!
  • Day nurseries and schools. – Save money on waste collection.
  • The local authorities and therefore the whole community– Saves money on waste collection
  • The environment – Perhaps the biggest winner, millions of tonnes of one-use plastic being stopped from polluting the environment.

Who loses

  • The nappy manufacturers and retailers who make a living, and provide jobs, from making and selling nappies.
  • The distributing companies, and their staff who make a living from transporting the nappies up and down the country.
  • The waste companies who process the used nappies.

I have not discussed using non-disposable nappies but obviously they are much better for the environment than plastic ones, and save parents money; but they are less convenient, and arguably less efficient.   The effect is similar if we just reduce the time our children use them for anyway, saves more laundry rather than one use plastic, but which is still a cost we can save.

Is this not worth a little effort, perhaps buying a lovely pack and potty such as “My Potty Training Pack” ?  And no we don’t get any commission before you accuse us of doing this to promote any product or service..  Lets train our children, its best to follow the same method that their day care does to avoid confusing the children – so if they don’t have a method, and just “leave it to the toddler” then, perhaps work on them, don’t accept that.  We know more about damaging the environment now, we care, so lets do something about it together, parents, colleagues, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, lets help and encourage and just do it!

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