As a parent (and, perhaps, particularly as a mother), you become surprisingly and quickly inured to the least glamourous aspects of bringing up children – dribble, snot, wee and poo.
That said, I don’t think there’s anyone who could genuinely say they enjoy changing a dirty nappy and it’s a great relief when they can finally be trusted to see to most or all of those bodily functions of their own account.
The anticipation of such a day can make toilet training a frustrating and draining experience for parents. One moment you think you have it cracked, the next your child’s backside smells like a barn and it’s time to don the biohazard suit.
A few people have asked me whether I think children should be spanked for toilet training issues. The short, simple answer is ‘no’ – the child doesn’t yet have full control of their bladder or bowels, and there’s a reason we call such events ‘accidents’.
However, a longer, and rather more complex, answer might be ‘sometimes’. Call me a cruel, heartless mummy but I believe there are occasions – when you’re in the ‘home straight’ of toilet training – when a smacked bottom might be appropriate and helpful.
When Katie had been in ‘big girl’ underpants for quite some time, an incident occurred which led to me spanking her. I should say that prior to this, we’d had dozens of ‘little accidents’ – both number ones and number twos – which had passed without any action from mummy save for a bit of a sigh and a clean-up operation.
This particular day, my daughter was playing quietly with some toys on the lounge floor when I became aware of a series of noises and smells that unmistakably came from her bottom.
“Katie, do you need to go to the toilet?” “No, mummy.” “I think we should go –you’re making some horrid smells.” “Nooo! …I’m all right.”
Part of me wanted to scoop her up right then and march her to the bathroom but another part told me I needed to begin to trust her knowledge of her own body.
You won’t be surprised to learn that only a few minutes later, I heard that dreaded crackling sound from her bum. She had done a ‘big smelly’ in her knickers.
Once I had cleaned her up, I gave her a soundly smacked bottom. Why? Because she had been lazy – she was now old enough to know the feeling when she needed a bowel movement but had chosen to ignore it – and also because she had effectively told me a lie. She did need a poo, but thought playing with her toys was more important than being truthful.
When Jody was about the age Katie is now, we went through something of a war of attrition about the state of his underpants, and remembering to wipe his bottom properly. It wasn’t that he hadn’t been taught how to do this – supervised in the bathroom, he was quite capable of getting himself nicely clean. But left to his own devices, he was being slapdash and lazy.
My response was random inspections of his underpants for a few weeks and a spanking each time I discovered a pair which were unacceptably dirty.
Now, you might think that I was unfairly harsh with the children on these occasions but let me tell you, those spankings worked. Katie has never since ignored the ‘call of nature’ and although far from spotless (he is a boy, after all!), Jody’s pants have been far easier to deal with since.
Sometimes it‘s necessary to be strict with our children over toilet training to get them over the ‘final hump’ of the journey. In that context, a robust spanking can be an appropriate tool.
We all want to be supportive and understanding as our children learn to deal with life’s everyday demands but equally, we mustn’t be too soft on them.
There are hundreds of children starting primary school these days who are still in nappies. That was unheard of in my day – and well-smacked bottoms for wet or dirty pants (when the children were old enough to know better) was a big part of the reason why.
Teachers are not there to change your children’s bottoms. It is our parental responsibility to ensure that our children can go to school and keep themselves (relatively!) clean and sweet while they are learning.
And that’s why spanking sometimes has a role to play in toilet training.
Contributor: Louise. Originally published in her blog The Spanking Mum. Opinions expressed are solely those of the original author.