It seems that there are a few topics that do the rounds every so often on the news and topic shows designed to divide parents – breastfeeding v bottle feeding, literacy levels, co sleeping to name just a few. Last week, the head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman, spoke of a rise in the numbers of children starting school in nappies.
I have documented our ongoing battle with potty training here. Not much has changed since I wrote the post back in February. We have good weeks where we silently tell ourselves that we have broken the potty training barrier and then we have weeks (like this week) where he just goes back to square one. We refer to it as potty strike. When potty strike strikes, it feels like the days are an uphill struggle with constant cleaning and clothes changes.
There were several threads social media following the report, with the topic being covered on programmes such as This Morning and Loose Women. In the social media age, everyone has an opinion, mainly basing it purely on their own personal experience. Everyone now has a voice, and it seems so easy to make very generalised statements about people that you have never even met and you have no insight into their life.
A selection of my favourite comments are as follows –
‘My little Maisie did it in a day. I just took her pants off and she just did it. It’s so easy!’*
‘It’s just lazy parenting. Plain and simple’*
‘My little boy was trained day and night by age 2’*
‘Parents nowadays just can’t be bothered. Too busy on their phones’*
‘In my day you couldn’t send them to nursery without being dry. We did it in a week. My Jack was reciting algebra by the time he was 5’**
I eye rolled so many times. I am really glad that little Jack is on track to read physics at Cambridge, and that you have been the perfect parent since he was conceived, but did no one ever tell you that putting other people down doesn’t make you any better?! I am, as are many other parents, raising children not robots and they all develop at different rates at different times.
Now, I have no doubt that in a small number of cases, there is a degree of parental neglect. But sometimes, the ‘the parents are lazy’ statement is a huge generalisation. There are many factors as to why children are later being potty trained now. Mom’s generally go to work now and there may be different childcare arrangements throughout the child’s early years. We generally wait until a child is ready now instead of rushing potty training, And disposables are sometimes mentioned as a contributing factor, as the child doesn’t feel wet when they wee.
I really don’t totally buy in to the ‘this didn’t happen in my day’ school of thought. From a source who shall rename nameless, I have been told of a little boy who attended school in the 60’s. He had poor social skills, poor literacy, lack of concentration. He was dismissed as a ‘naughty boy’ who was regularly hit over the knuckles with a ruler for ‘misbehaviour.’ Anyone with any experience of children by today’s standards would clearly recognise this child possibly suffered with dyslexia, possibly ADHD – who know’s? I am confident that this is probably a story replicated for many people across the UK. My guess is it did happen, but people just didn’t talk about it.
And us? We aren’t lazy. You name it, we’ve tried it. Taking days off work – check. Reward charts – check. Being nice about it – yep. Being cross – several times. Shopping for potty’s – We have a potty in every room, all chosen by the boy in question. Each day out is accompanied with a back pack full of clothes changes ‘just in case’. We feel like going to the toilet has taken over our whole lives some days. Finley starts school in September and the panic is starting to set in. We keep being told that ‘eventually he will get it!’ We are desperately waiting for that day to arrive!
Sometimes it just takes some kids longer. They aren’t robots. We feel stressed enough by the whole thing already. Please don’t makes us feel worse!
*I may have paraphrased and exaggerated these quotes slightly. But you get the jist!
**FYI Jack’s Mom, Finley can count to 100 and spell his own name and that isn’t exaggerated – so there!