I've been wanting to write this post for ages, but I guess I have been feeling a bit of imposter syndrome. A good friend has encouraged me to go for it so here I am. My experience comes from 2 years as a nanny and 5 (I think) years as an ECE teacher which is my qualifications and background before opening the store. This means I have been through toilet training with MANY children from many different backgrounds and family dynamics and can see what works and what doesn't.
As you will know I also have a wee girl myself, her name is Harper and she turned 3 in January. She essentially toilet trained herself on our week long camping trip new years 20/21. Thankfully we had been building up to the moment and I packed some knickers so we could encourage her to wear them while in the open where accidents don't matter so much. This is her story.
We have always been quite open with her around toileting, she has always followed us to the toilet and watched what was going on. She would ask if we were doing wees or poos also.
Just before she turned 2 we stocked up on undies and changed our toilet seat to a family one with the 2 sizes so that we didn't have to have another insert floating around the toilet floor. Seriously they are the best invention ever! Get it here. We even took it with us when we shifted house.
We kept it simple and relaxed with no pressure. She was encouraged to sit on the toilet occasionally and wear knickers when we were at home. There would be weeks where Shaun and I would think "yeah this is it, we are making progress", then she would show no interest again for awhile but we made sure that there was never any pressure and she controlled the process. We would occasionally ask her if she wanted to go on the toilet but being the strong willed girl that she is it was often met with a very loud NO! For Christmas Santa gave her some Christmas knickers with a note saying he thought she might like them so she can go to the toilet like a big girl and she seemed to understand. We then went away camping with her bigger sisters (9yr and 11yr) and cousins. She felt like she was missing out on all the fun when they would go for a walk to the communal toilet so asked if she could wear knickers. Since then we have had maybe 2 accidents, she's been in town for entire days in knickers and not had any issues at all. It was honestly one of the easiest experiences we have ever had and it just confirmed for me that if you give a child the right tools and power over their own learning they can often blow you out of the water with what they are capable of achieving! Harper is still in night nappies, but again this is a process we will work with her on, we are prepared with brolly sheets and mattress protectors for when she decides its time to wear knickers to bed.
This has been my experience with so many other children too, the families that would follow the Childs lead and wait until they were ready would have a much easier time than those that decided it was toilet training time with no considering where the child was with their physical and mental development. Forcing a child to toilet train with pressure, bribery and frustration makes for an unpleasant experience for everyone involved and can often delay full toilet training because children can develop a fear of the toilet. This doesn't mean we haven't rewarded Harper with the odd lolly or high 5 after going poos for the first couple of times but it was never a I will give you a lolly when you go toilet type pressure situation. Harper went through a phase of not wanting to do poo on the toilet so I ran with it and she would let me know she would need to go and I would put a nappy on her. This only lasted a week and she was back to doing it on the toilet. When she had an accident we would calmly and quietly help her clean it up and change her, there was never any telling off or shame in an accident. Obviously many factors come into play when a child becomes ready for TT. Disability, development rate and home environment can have huge impacts on when they are ready so I believe there is no magic age they will be ready. I have seen some perfectly normal and healthy children not be ready until closer to 4 and that is totally fine. As parents we need to be less caught up in our agenda and more focused on child led development. This doesn't mean we cant encourage it and give them the tools they need but they need to be in charge of their own learning and this can have so many benefits when it comes to learning later on into their school years too. Again this is only my experience but I would guess I've been part of toilet training upwards of 100 children in my time as a nanny and teacher.
If you have any questions or tips you would like to pass on please get in touch! I am more than happy to help.