The last time I wrote about toilet learning was a while ago.
This process has been very gradual. Bear has inched along at snail's pace. It doesn't feel like we're moving until we look back to where we've come from.
At the moment Bear is able to keep his undies dry except in exceptional circumstances.
He usually needs help getting undies off and on. I think this is more of a confidence issue than a competence issue. There are times when I am not able to help him for some reason and he manages without me. I have not been able to coax him to practice despite my best efforts - I think I need to get better at stalling!
Bear is still usually using a potty but he is starting to choose the toilet with a toddler seat at times.
He will usually cooperate when I ask him to do a wee before getting into the car and he is incredibly reliable when we're out.
This is a summary of Bear's toilet learning milestones to date:
Toilet learning is a complicated process! There are still more milestones yet to be reached:
It's been about a month since we took Bear's nappy off.
He is 100% reliable at using the potty at home when he doesn't have any pants on.
As soon as we put anything on him he has accidents. He wets undies, shorts, trackies, nappy, whatever it is we've put him in. He doesn't even tell me he's wet. He just carries on playing. Wet pants don't bother him. He is not motivated by independence in this area at the moment.
He is motivated by blue berries, raspberries and stickers.
Since bringing back the offer of payment for wees on the potty Bear is making progress again. He has decided he is capable of taking his shorts off and putting them on independently (something he has flatly refused to attempt until now - "Naaaaaoooooo!! Mummy do it!!"). Now, of course, he won't let me help him at all. **exasperated sigh**.
But progress is progress! Seeing his shorts on backwards instead of his bare bottom is an improvement!
At the moment I am offering him a reward for a wee every hour or so. He's doing ok.
I have found the practical advice in Montessori from the Start helpful and thorough. However Bear wasn't prepared to cooperate in the process until much later than was suggested. They emphasise that starting in the sensitive period sometime between 12 and 18 months is crucial. At that age we didn't seem to be making any progress at all. Maybe I missed his sensitive period. Maybe Bear's sensitive period came later. Maybe the sensitive period is not as brief or as important as they suggest.
I also found Robin Barker's Potty training section in The Mighty Toddler invaluable. It is written by an Australian child health nurse with many years of practical experience. She describes the historical changes in potty training methods and expectations similarly to Montessori from the Start but from an Australian perspective. She goes on to discus the different approaches to toilet training and their advantages and disadvantages. I love her common sense approach and open mindedness. She combines current research with her clearly expansive experience with children and families. It is definitely worth a read if you've been confused by all the conflicting advice that's out there.
Once Bear's confident getting his pants on and off I suppose the next step will be leaving the house without a nappy on. *gulp*. No set of potty training instructions I've found seems to be fitting him exactly. And all the parents I've talked to seem to have used very different methods with their children. I am definitely finding that we're stumbling around in the dark in this process. I guess we just continue walking with him one step at a time and try to enjoy his uniqueness along the way.
I haven't mentioned toilet learning for a while because we hit two major obstacles:
But apparently Bear was ready to use the potty!
I think Tom was getting more impatient with nappies than I was. He was definitely more optimistic. He put a potty in the playroom and a potty in the living room. He took Bear's nappy off and gave him some very straight forward motivation - "If you do a wee or a poo on the potty I will give you an ice-cream".
That was all it took. No tantrums. No accidents. Bear has been weeing on the potty for 2 weeks now. Without any prompting he will leave anything he's playing with, do a wee on the potty, then go back to his things without a fuss. Occasionally he will ask for a sticker or some blueberries which we offered at the beginning as rewards. Usually he just gets on with things.
We've just started letting him sleep with no nappy and a potty beside his bed. So far so good. He is just definitely ready now - 6 months ago he definitely wasn't.
Our previous arrangement was too complicated so we've simplified things:
At the moment we have not tackled pulling undies on and off, wiping bottom, washing hands, using a real toilet... I am happy to let him consolidate one skill at a time. I wasn't even ready to teach him this skill - thank goodness he didn't need me to teach him at all!
I really find it hard to keep up with these children! Did I mention Fox is rolling all over the floor now too? Yikes! It's a wild ride!
Toilet learning has been such foreign territory as a first time mum. There is such an overwhelming supply of advice and "information" out there and of course all of it is conflicting. I was so relieved that Montessori provided a comprehensive approach to this area of child development as with all other areas. What a relief to find common sense, gentle, thorough guidance.
I love the Montessori concept of "toilet learning" vs "toilet training". "Toilet learning" implies a gentle and gradual process that is intrinsic to the child. It is something that he will master when he's ready if he is given the right support at the right time. It's not about success or failure (for the child or his "coach"). I've used a lot of practical information form how we montessori and Racheous has collected some fantastic links on toilet learning which I have read thoroughly.
Our toilet learning journey started with cloth nappies from birth. I started using Gerber undies inconsistently from 12 months. Then from 18 months I have became much more consistent with a prepared environment and consistent routine. This is what we've been doing since then:
I have two identical potty stations located in places Bear is likely to be without pants on. The first on the way out of his bedroom. Here he changes out of his nappy and into undies first thing in the morning and after naps.
The second is in the bathroom opposite the toilet. I bring him here to clean up a poo. He likes to see his poo tipped into the toilet and waves goodbye when it's flushed. I also suggest he sits on the potty before and after baths or if he comes with me when I go to the toilet.
I use the word "suggest" very deliberately. I learned very quickly that there is NO point forcing, bribing or even encouraging Bear to sit on the potty. He will tolerate is a very brief reminder that the potty's there. Sometimes he does like to practice getting on and off but it has to be on his terms and so far he's not very interested.
We use Gerber baby training pants because they're cheap. Even when they're shipped from the US to Australia they're no more than $7 per pair. Advantages - cheap, good fit, good colour options, 100% cotton, no waterproofing. Disadvantages - poor absorbency, tend to fall down after a bit of wear.
At the moment we have 12 pairs and we use them whenever we're at home. 12 pairs isn't quite enough because they need to be changed so frequently. I have ordered another 12 which will be plenty and allow me to use Bear's nappies for the new baby. I slip a soaker from our Pop In nappies inside the undies which gives them the perfect absorbency. We've never had an overflow with the soaker in place but the nappy still looks and feels very wet.
When I can see that Bear has done a wee I tell him "you've done a wee in your undies - look your undies are wet". I encourage him to look at his wet undies and feel them with his hand. Then I change him quickly without fuss where ever he happens to be at the time and point out "now your undies are dry".
I don't think he is able to anticipate a wee or a poo yet. But over the last few weeks he has become reliable at letting me know when he's wet or dirty and cooperates much better with changes. This is exciting progress!
Of course being prepared for accidents is important. We have a ready supply of cloths and carpet cleaner. Bear loves this task and helps diligently whenever there is need. I was amazed how carefully he watched what I was doing the first time and how exactly he has imitated the work ever since. A fantastic Montessori moment!
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.