Searching for Toilet Island: set backs don’t mean failure

by Creative Homes

Toilet training is something that many families struggle with. It’s often difficult, because there isn’t really a “right” way to do it. Every child has their own pace and there can be unexpected set backs along the way. But it’s important to remember that set backs don’t mean failure. Children will learn when they are ready, and the most important thing is to start introducing the ideas and actions of using the toilet in a playful way so that when it’s time to go for real, everyone feels comfortable, relaxed and prepared.

Stephanie and her family were the first to try our toilet training home visit. I met Stephanie whilst door knocking on the housing estate where she lives in Lambeth, South London. She had heard about Creative Homes through our presence in the area and was interested in trying out some playful solutions at home. On the spot we arranged a den building consultation for the following week. Our consultations are a fun way to get to know a family in their home environment and identify areas of their daily life that are causing them stress. At the consultation we met the rest of the family, Ben (3 years), Lilly (5 years) and dad Jeff.

I and N adda doorbell to their den

Lilly and Ben add a doorbell to their den

At the consultation Stephanie explained that Ben had recently started to wet and soil himself regularly, particularly at nursery, which he had just started attending. She was especially concerned as only a few months ago Ben had seemed comfortable using the toilet and was well on the way to using it independently. I suggested a visit from Sam the Toilet Sailor to help boost their toilet routine with some fun songs and playful solutions.

Searching for Toilet Island

Using our homemade toilet roll spy glasses to search for Toilet Island

As Sam the Sailor, I visited the family four times over the course of a month, each time introducing new approaches to using the toilet through the familiar song and story that I shared with the family on my first visit.


Wiggling with Polly the parrot. Photo credit: Kitty Wong

Can anyone see Toilet Island?

Can anyone see Toilet Island? Photo credit: Kitty Wong

Each time you use the toilet with you parrot you can give it a new feather

Each time you use the toilet with you parrot you can give it a new feather

Toilet training is very rarely a quick process and it can take years for a child to become fully independent, which can be frustrating for all involved. Through songs, stories and activities, we try to make this a fun journey for the family rather then an exhausting dash to the finish line.


Photo credit: Kitty Wong

Ben still has accidents but with their new approach the family are more confident and able to enjoy toilet training together. We have also provided them with pathway links to Promocon and Eric (organisiations specialising in promoting continence) should they decide that more specialised support is what they need.

This is just the beginning for Sam the Toilet Sailor and her parrot, Polly. Through our work with families like Stephanie’s we will continue developing our playful toilet training solution and will help more families to become happy and confident visitors to Toilet Island.


Photo credit: Kitty Wong

If you have concerns about toilet training and would like to learn more about how we can help, please get in touch.


*All names have been changed to protect the family’s privacy

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