Toilet training:one of life’s milestones

toilet training: one of life's milestones

Potty Guidelines
My own 2 cents, by Diane Rose

Montessori Fun Home Preschool Windsor, CA

Every year we get lots of questions regarding toilet training.
Children aged 18 months through three years of age and beyond are
having challenges regarding independence vs. dependence, going back
and forth.Toilet training is another step toward independence. This is one of the  steps  of cutting the cord,  one of the many milestones in the child’s life. It is all part of growing up, which may or may not be a difficult transition for the parents, and the child. There are many factors that influence the “success” of this transition from diapers and being changed, to using the toilet. Readiness, (physical and
emotional) is as important for the  parents as it is for the child. Maybe it is your last baby,
maybe your first or only, babies are so precious some parents just don’t want to let go! Some parents
are afraid they will do the wrong thing and damage the child psychologically, some just haven’t found the time to deal with it, changing diapers isn’t so hard when you think of poop and puddles and messes on the floor and rug and what about the car? But like many aspects of parenting, the time spent teaching your child is well worth it , and in the end is  so much easier and lets not forget so much less expensive.

 “Sensitive Periods”.
Maria Montessori noted in her observations and research that the
child, and all of us, have sensitive periods for learning skills, during
which learning that skill is more easily and painlessly learned, than other
times. It is when we are really interested in something, so much so that it
does not feel like work, but a passion. During a child’s sensitive period
for language, (age 0-7) it is much easier to learn another language,
whereas later in life it is more difficult and takes longer. “Strike while
the iron is hot,” describes the concept of sensitive periods.
If child has a time when he is showing an interest in using the
toilet, likely that is the best time to start learning. Waiting may prolong
the process. In my observations, they go through a sensitive period
towards potty awareness at the age of around 18 months and then again
around 2, and then at around 2 1/2. After this the child often gets the
idea that wearing diapers is a lot easier than trying for the potty, and  they
don’t have to stop what they’re doing either. They get lazy, and in the habit of using
their diapers. Also, they often get 
 lots of one on one attention during changes, especially
attractive to a child that has a younger sibling.
This does not mean that if your child is three  or older that it is too late,they just may
need some real good motivators to make it worth 
it for them. Of course,
your child will not go to college in diapers, And 
remember, you are not alone! 

Indicators of Readiness
-Can go for long periods of time with a dry diaper
-Is aware of the feeling that precedes having to go, and is able to
communicate that need, and hold it  until she can get to
the potty. This process usually starts with being aware that he has just
gone, and reporting that  “wet!!” (too late, but still an important step).
-Is able to walk to the bathroom, pull down their clothing, and do all
the steps, wipe, flush, wash hands
-Has some motivation and/or interest in being able to use the toilet

-Can deal with extra laundry temporarily and extra clean ups, and is
ready to have an encouraging attitude (don’t choose PMS week)
-Is willing to make the time and put out some energy towards this
project, a week, or even a weekend spent near home will help
-Is willing to let go of the baby part of the child, which can be
especially hard if this is the last child
-Is ready to put away those cute overalls, belts, and other clothing that
make independent pottying difficult and frustrating for the child
-Is ready to take the diaper purchases out of the family budget yay!
After accessing your family’s readiness, here are some tips that may be
useful. Every child and every family is different. What works for you may
not work for your neighbor’s kid. As long as everyone is happy, it is the
right way for you. I do not, however, condone punishing for accidents, or
forcing the child to sit for prolonged periods on the potty until they
produce, using shame or guilt, or turning it into good girl/bad girl
choices. Every child needs encouragement and support while learning
this new skill, as they do for every new skill.
1. Before you start the process, minimize the fun and nurturing aspect of
changing their diapers. No goo goos and tickles during changes.Be matter of fact, and
warm but not overly fun during the diaper change. Change them standing up whenever
possible, put the BM in the toilet (“Where it belongs.”). Let them help
pulling up and down their pants, and any other part they are able to help

2. Let your child wear underwear and a shirt, or be naked around the
house and in the yard with a potty nearby. Trial and error is a great way
to learn. Being aware of when they are going and then to be able to hold it
and put it where is belongs is a new concept at first. Modern diapers keep
them so dry they don’t even know how it feels to be wet.

3. Pretty or fun underwear can be a huge  “motivator”, favorite characters can be
found in almost any store. Thick training pants are good for smaller
puddles on the floor, but not as fun . If they don’t mind them, and can be excited about plain big boy or girl pants that is great.When the accomplishment of staying dry, praise, and the thrill of
the sound of pee-pee in the pot aren’t motivating enough, then move up to
stickers or tiny treats.
4. Don’t switch back and forth from diapers and underwear. This is the most common difficulty for the child. It is too confusing  to go back and forth and they aren’t sure when to hold it or when to let it go.
Diapers at night and during nap are often worn long after the child is in
underwear during the day, though.
5. Pull-ups are, in my opinion,just expensive diapers and usually get used
as such, but if they working for your child,  great!
6. Take the child with you when you go, if you feel comfortable with this.
The same-sex parent, sibling or child’s friend demonstrating can be
helpful. At least keep them company in the bathroom, chat and
make it a pleasant time.
7. It is usually easier for boys to start out sitting. Save standing for when
they have gained better aim and control. When they do stand a small paper corner or cheerio can make a good target.
S. Don’t feel bad about sending your child to school in underwear, just
send lots of spare clothing. We really don’t mind, and want to work
together with you. (Talk to your child’s care provider or school for their guidelines)
9. Carry a small portable potty with you for emergencies, long lines,  freeway stops,
and dirty bathrooms that you don’t want them touching. Especially for girls.
Always, always carry a change of clothes for them in the car.
10. Don’t be surprised when they refuse to go when you request them to,
like before a trip in the car. “But I don’t have to” is a valid reason, for them.  
They usually  wait until their bladder is about bursting and then they
tell you they have to go (it is often just as the food arrives at the table in a
restaurant, or just as you merge onto the freeway) After my own three
kids  and the many I have taught I truly think they have a reason for this,
perhaps to strengthen their holding muscles. This is normal, although
frustrating, behavior.
11. Remember, you are instilling habits. Follow the ritual you want them
to have every time. including putting the lid down, wiping properly,
washing hands, whatever habits you want them to have forever. Even if
the child is just trying and doesn’t actually “go” at first~ go through the
entire ritual every time. This actually applies to all the habits you want
your child to have, this is the time in life that they learn them.
12. Make sure the child has only clothing choices that are easy on/easy
off. Loose elastic pants, short dresses, or best yet, au natural!
13. Be positive and encouraging!! Make it fun! If they miss, tell them “It’s
OK~ you’ll make it next time!!” Have some fun with it “Let’s run to the
potty, you can make it, let’s go!!” If it becomes negative, overly
frustrating for either of you, or a   back  off for a while.
Try again in a few weeks. I promise you, they will not go to college in diapers!!!!

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