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I thought a lot about whether to post this or not. In addition to being personally embarrassing it happened long time ago and is quite a "localized" question. However there might be a benefit in hearing some opinions as it will help people decide how to act in similar experiences in the future.

The experience and my actions at the time:

Three years ago, my nephew was three years old, in the middle of his potty training. After lunch with the family everyone went outside, he and his older brother (who was 6 back then) joined me near the computer like they always did, playing together some classic games.

At some point I excused myself to the nearby toilet room leaving the two of them to themselves with game they both knew and loved. While I was still in the middle, the three year old nephew entered the bathroom and said he had to use it and asked for my help.

I have seen his parents take him to the bathroom before and under normal circumstances I would have just gone and called them; however I wasn't in any condition to get out of the room. I asked him to go ask his parents or hold a few minutes until I was done but he didn't budge and insisted on immediate action.

Fearing he would mess his pants I got up and helped him through the whole process. He pretty much did everything on his own, probably he was at a stage where he still needed the supervision. After he was done he went out, I returned to the room few minutes later to find both brothers playing as usual.

I considered telling his parents, asking if I acted properly but was too embarrassed to mention it and it didn't happen again.

My question and debates:

  • Should I have done anything different? If so, what and at which point?
  • Should I have told his parents afterwards, even if just to inform them?

Now father to a 2 year old toddler I do realize I might be making it a much bigger deal that what it really was; on one hand parents always want to know what his child is doing but on the other hand maybe such thing is totally normal. (Potty training has not started yet for my daughter so can't really tell)

Any insights will be welcome!

share|improve this question
Which part was embarrassing? – DA01 Oct 16 '12 at 15:18
@DA01 mainly that he saw me in a "private situation". Now that I have my own toddler I know better but back then is was very embarrassing for me. – Shadow Wizard Oct 16 '12 at 20:55
I suppose that's perhaps a cultural thing (even down to the individual family level). We tend to be a 'open door when in the bathroom' family, but I imagine lots of people aren't. Either way, kids usually don't care. ;) – DA01 Oct 16 '12 at 21:09
@DA01 we do have "open door" in my own home (wife, myself and the toddler) however not when with other family members. I would have locked the door back then but that particular room didn't have any lock on its door. – Shadow Wizard Oct 16 '12 at 21:23
up vote 12 down vote accepted

I think you are reading far too much into this. In fact, I was struggling to see what the problem was. You helped the young kid go potty. He needed help. If he'd poo-ed himself, you would have changed him, right? If he'd fallen down, you'd clean the blood off his knee, right?

If you feel uncomfortable about it, you could mention it casually to the parents, though this might be a bit awkward now that the event has passed. You could have said, "When I was going to the bathroom, young X came in and asked me to help him go, so I did."

share|improve this answer
Good point. Most likely when I'll go through potty training to my own daughter my view will drastically change. :) – Shadow Wizard Oct 15 '12 at 15:22
If anything, it's something to laugh about with the parents. "Oh, that reminds me of this time I was trapped in the bathroom by your son..." – Brian White Oct 15 '12 at 16:35
Personally, I would have mentioned it to the parents at the time that it happened for sure, but I do not think you did anything wrong. In your current position I would probably mention it to the parents letting them know up front that you feel some embarrassment over what happened, but then again I know some parents that it would be best never to bring it up as they are very particular about their children. Either way, I do not think you did anything wrong and my wife and I would be very glad that you helped out. – Dave Nelson Oct 15 '12 at 18:16
@Brian while this doesn't sound so good guess that when said in the proper time and place it might be something to laugh at. Problem is identifying that time and place.. :) – Shadow Wizard Oct 15 '12 at 22:28
@Dave thanks for the reassurance! :) – Shadow Wizard Oct 15 '12 at 22:30

As Dave said, this shouldn't be seen as embarrassing or awkward. To a child that age it isn't- they know they need some help and you are someone who can help, so they don't read anything else into it.

As they get older you can see their bodily awareness grow until all of a sudden they stop doing things like this, but at this age just accept that you have helped, and realise that your kids will be the same and may need to ask someone else for help at some point, be it teacher, babysitter or whoever.

share|improve this answer
Thanks. Well, I don't want teachers to help my children in such activities but that's off topic for this question I guess. Good point about the "they don't read anything else into it", it indeed makes sense. :) – Shadow Wizard Oct 16 '12 at 10:52
I suppose I should have said nursery or kindergarten teacher:) – Rory Alsop Oct 16 '12 at 11:14
Lol, I thought you mean school teachers.. :) – Shadow Wizard Oct 16 '12 at 11:16

Everything sounds fine to me. Caring for kids is always messy and unpredictable. I don't see what else you could have done. At that age, it's hard for them to be able to "hold it in" - he only figures out he needs to go exactly at the last possible moment usually. You can look forward to that when you potty train your own child :)

share|improve this answer
Thanks, he didn't look like he can't "hold it in" anymore but guess you're right, soon I'll see for myself. Is it different with girl? :-) – Shadow Wizard Oct 25 '12 at 19:45
No, it's no different with a girl. Except that they tend to have less of an issue with "aiming" than boys. Ha! – Christine Gordon Oct 25 '12 at 22:10

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