Tuesday, 10 September 2013

On potty training a black swan. Confession time.

Posted by Heather Yoeli

Few of my writings have generated as much feedback as the January blogpost about my daughter’s refusal to use either potty or toilet. To those who have asked whether she is now potty trained… yes (phew – and thanks for asking). To those who have asked whether their advice to me at the time was helpful… no (sorry – but thanks for trying). Neither the iconic Poo Goes to Pooland, nor its beautifully-illustrated Hebrew counterpart, nor decorating the potty with Peppa Pig stickers, nor chocolate buttons, nor anything else at all helped. She simply decided that she was going to poo in the toilet, her nappy mat applied for its state pension, and all was well. In retrospect, I can now see that, whether for physiological or developmental or her own personal reasons, she simply hadn’t been ready before.

Black Swan, by Robyn Carter
Within public health, we try to look at all aspects of health and wellbeing and development at a population or community or global level, rather than as it affects individuals. We therefore know the pitfalls of trying to create individualised targets merely from statistical norms. And so, in trying to get my daughter potty trained before the arbitrary age of 3 before which potty training is ‘supposed’ to happen, I was inflicting upon her tiny posterior a premise that is scientifically a bit dodgy. I do sometimes wonder whether there’s a preponderance of pushy parenting coming from public health and academic types. Both public health and academia as a whole are competitive fields, and it tends to be those who are by nature a little bit competitive who enjoy public health academia. Or maybe I’m making excuses for myself. Maybe it’s just me. (Hint: do leave a comment…)

Nevertheless, a new challenge awaits. My son had just turned two, and with it has gained the delightful habit of undoing his trousers whilst shouting wet wet wet at the cat. Unless he begins to show signs of any development delays or health challenges requiring of extra help, I aim to tackle his whole potty training experience without attempting a single literature search for valid and robust current public health data on the age at which children achieve full bladder and bowel control. However crap (or damp) things become, it’ll be an interesting challenge…

No comments:

Post a Comment