One of the scariest anticipations for me as a father is when it comes time for potty training. The reason it scares me is because it conjours up bad memories of my childhood.
I didn’t really have any problems with potty training during my waking hours. It was during the night, when I’d be sleeping, that the problems occurred.
There would be many a nights when I’d wake up in the wee hours of the morning to a sudden wetness in my pants area only to find out I had relieved myself.
And this problem went on right up till I was six or seven years old. So my determination to successfully potty train my daughter Athena was really to redeem my honour!
So we started when she was about three years old. We’d constantly take her diapers off at home and just put her on the potty seat until she would either pee or poo.
After a few times of doing that and explaining to her that she has to tell us every time she felt the urge to go, we’d leave her diaper-less totally, but only at home.
I have a friend who, on the first day of potty training, immediately went diaper-less at a dinner party at another friend’s house! Now that’s confidence that my wife and I don’t have!
Anyway, when we took the diapers off Athena at home, surprisingly she immediately knew to come to us whenever she wanted to go to the toilet. And she’d do it so excitedly!
“Mummy! Pops!” she’d scream as she runs full speed and crash herself into either my wife’s or my crotch while we’re seating on the sofa watching TV.
“What is it Athena?” we’d ask her shocked.
“I want to wee wee now!” she’d yell as she jumps hysterically around.
“Ok! Hold on!”
I’d throw her over my shoulders and run to the toilet while my wife would run alongside frantically pulling off Athena’s skirt and panties.
As soon as we sit her on her toilet seat, she’d look at us and slowly smile. Then she’d quietly whisper, “I don’t want to wee wee anymore.”
Cute, you’d think, right? Well, not to my wife and I who had to rush so our new IKEA carpet won’t get soiled! Thankfully this happens less frequently than when she’d really pee in the toilet.
Aside from the one-off accidents every once in a while when she realises that she wants to pee only at the last minute, Athena has been doing very well with the potty training.
And this usually happens when she gets really excited and forgets that she wants to pee, such as when she has play dates with her friends and she’s just too caught up having fun.
Sometimes we do get a little bit agitated when this happens and we scold her for not telling us sooner. But she’s still only in her first year. It’s really our responsibility to ask and remind her.
It would be detrimental to scold her anyway because it would be more of an embarrassment when what we really want to be doing is to encourage her.
All in all, what I have learned from trying to potty train my daughter this past year is that to not stress over it because we shouldn’t underestimate the little ones.
Explain to them and they will understand. It might take them a little while to get use to controlling the feeling, but they’ll get there eventually.
Just make sure that you have lots of rags and extra clothes on stand by!
Zan Azlee is a multimedia journalist, writer and filmmaker. He specialises in solo-journalism and often reports from conflict zones around the world. He usually succeeds in staying safe and coming home unharmed to his daughter, Athena Azlee, and wife, Jasmine Abu Bakar, by screaming like a little girl whenever he is faced with danger. Follow his exploits at FatBidin.com.