Hub Manager and Lead Artists Helen Maier tells the story of how small changes to the daily routine can make a big difference.
I’m sitting on a sofa in a bare living room with peeling wallpaper, the curtains still shut. Nathan (4) and his sister Serena (5) stick coloured paper on the cardboard den we have just built together.
Cherie sits next to me in jeans, a loose jumper and socks, her long, dark, plated hair wrapped up in a bun. “I really find it difficult with Nathan” she says, “He won’t use the toilet he just poos in his pants. I’m always cleaning up after him. She frowns and makes a circular wiping motion with her hand. “It’s really stressful but I don’t know what to do”, she rises her eyebrows and laughs.
The following week I knock on Nathan and Cherie’s door dressed in a red and white stripy t-shirt and blue sailor trousers, a bright red fluffy parrot puppet in one hand, a toilet roll telescope in the other. “Hello I’m Sam the sailor and this is my pet parrot Polly”, I say. “We’ve been out at sea for ages and Polly really needs a wee, could we come in and use your toilet?”
“Ah ha” laughs Nathan honking Polly’s beak.
“Yes please”, says Cherie, smiling.
We sing our way around the living room, hunting for Toilet Island through our toilet roll telescopes. Nana laughs and jumps around leading us down the narrow corridor to the toilet door. After Polly uses the toilet Nathan pushes past us, pulls down his trousers, sits down on the toilet and does a wee too.
Before we leave Cherie looks around her bathroom decorated with a giant X, illustrated story cards and song sheets on the wall. “Yes, you will like going to the toilet now, won’t you!” she says to Nathan “and you will tell me when you need to do a poo.”
“A poo” crows Nathan and we all laugh.
Two weeks later I knock on Cherie’s door. She opens and Nathan squeezes past her with a huge smile and a dimple in his cheek. “Please come in”, says Barbara.
We pass the open bathroom door and see the toilet still decorated with a giant X, Nathan sings the Toilet Sailor song “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle woo, I need a poo or a wee”. Cherie laughs and claps from the sofa. “He knows it off by heart since the Toilet Sailor visited… He’s no trouble now. He uses the toilet whenever he needs, he’s very good.”
Nathan runs back and forth across the living room, singing.
“Do the sailor moves Nathan”, says Cherie, she gets up and we all wiggle around the room together.
Tackling a developmental stage as important as toilet training can seem like an overwhelming task, and once you’ve started it can be difficult to continue trying when it seems like progress has stopped or you’re going backward again. The key is to find playful ways to involve the toilet in your child’s daily routine so that potty training is something to look forward to rather then a chore. By consistently using our songs, stories and games as a playful way to keep coming back to the toilet, Cherie and Nathan were able to overcome that mile stone and move on with their next adventure together.
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