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I’ve written a lot about our toilet learning journey since we began with elimination communication at seven months old. As with any journey, there have been times things seemed to be smooth and on track, and other times, we seemed to be in regression. All this is completely normal and the important thing is staying the course and go with the flow.

E and V have been out of diapers during the day for some time now and use pull-ups, as a precautionary measure, for sleep times. Recently, with a long trip, I was a little hesitant to forgo pull-ups on the car ride, and yet they seemed ready, so we tried it. We made regular stops to rest areas and whenever I was met with “I don’t have to go!” I say what I’ve been saying since my nannying days, “Please try and if you don’t then I will apologize for having wasted your time.” I have yet to need to apologize.

This continued, past the car rides and onto numerous nap times at the hotels and Airbnbs where sleep accidentally fell upon them.

Once we got home I asked if they would like to continue not wearing their pull-up at nap/quiet time. They were so excited! Prior to the forgoing pull-ups, toileting prior to nap time had become a bit of a challenge as well as the removal of them during quiet time. Now the gentle reminder that we need to use the toilet prior and that’s it.

(We have a waterproof mattress protector but I also have two waterproof pads–our’s are no longer sold, but here are similar ones–one on top of the fitted sheet and one underneath, prepared for quick change during sleep.)

I wanted to share a bit back and how I knew they were likely ready to forgo pull-ups during the day. When one of the girls woke up with a dry nappy a few times in a row. The first time it happened I mentioned it to someone close to us and the response was, “Time to switch to undies at night.” I mentioned that one dry night does not mean that they are ready to make that switch. The response was, “They would be uncomfortable and over time decrease the chances of accidents.”

Hold up.

Doesn’t that seem a little wrong to you?

Rather than continuing to support and wait until dry nights seem to be regular and talking to her to discuss if she’d like to wear undies at night, trying to manipulate and force through discomfort? As an autistic, I’m used to these kinds of inappropriate tactics being used, many neurodivergent and disabled people are–we don’t do that here.

When I had a child who was developmentally able to use the toilet, yet chose to wait until they were in pull-ups/diapers to toilet, we didn’t use manipulative tactics. We explained in various ways until it was understood why we use the toilet, even if they found it humorous making someone change them.

First, there was the explanation that I may not be available to quickly change them, especially if I am using the restroom.

Then there was explaining that it’s wasteful, as well as reading a book on the environmental impact.

Then we talked about the financial impact. It’s important to talk to our children about finances in general (I have a few posts about how we do this) and wanted to explain where the money for their pull-ups comes from and when we are wasteful it limits opportunities for other things. In doing this I wanted to be cautious that they didn’t feel the weight of finances on them, growing up poor this is something I’m really mindful of. I just want them to be a part of the decisions and choices aspect. I also wanted to ensure that it didn’t feel like a punishment or judgment. I explained that we budget so much for them and out of that X amount is put aside for pull-ups and X amount is put aside for activities and materials. When we waste pull-ups and the pull-up money is depleted we then need to use activity/material money–but explaining that we still have a great time and have plenty of free things we enjoy, such as our library visits. Again, being really cautious that this doesn’t come off as a punishment to them and ensuring that they are developmentally ready for toilet usage and this conversation. I also don’t make remarks such as, “Well, I guess we can’t _____ because you wasted pull-ups!” Or anything similar. Just as I wouldn’t shame them in any other way over their use of a pull-up. I want every explanation to be done out of love and them to feel supported.

One of those explanations must have made sense as I’ve been woken up various times at night, with a knock on the door, as the toilet needs to be used. We are actually considering switching their room to the homeschool room so they have easier access to a restroom, one they feel more comfortable using as it’s a lower profile toilet and sink.

How are you following and supporting your child on their toileting journey?

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