- Learning to use the toilet is the child’s work.
- You can help set the child up for a successful toileting experience by preparing the environment and removing all obstacles (diapers, tight clothing, buttons & snaps).
- Creating routines help get around opposition.
As you can see from the previous post, when your child is learning to toilet independently, he is also working on self-dressing skills, personal hygiene such as wiping, flushing, and washing hands. He is piecing the whole experience together and the adult simply lends the child the support needed to master these new skills.
The last piece of self toileting is cueing. Ms. Johanna touched on this briefly in her latest video blog and is an area she feels, adults, often unknowingly try to manage. Ms. Johanna points out, “The child is not really independent toileting until he has also learned how to self cue.” She goes further to say, “The child can feel if you are trying to manage their ‘work’. You might feel like telling your child to go to the bathroom to ‘try’, but your child may want to learn the full extent of his own bladder’s holding ability. Only experience will give him this feedback. The child can learn to cue on his own through trial and error and eventually piece all the information together.”
Here at Montessori Tides, it’s not until a bond of trust has been established between the teacher and child that a toddler teacher will offer a child to change into underwear. At that moment, is when toilet learning begins! We find in the beginning many children don’t even want to sit on the potty. However, once a child is wearing underwear, they feel it when they urinate. They change into dry clothes in the bathroom and see other children using the toilet or potty while there. They become familiar with the routines, slowly learning to recognize their body’s functions, and what sensations indicate: “I have to go.”
“The moment your child willingly sits on the potty,” Ms. Johanna suggest, “you can start creating routines, even if they only sit for a second.” To recap on a previous blog, have your child sit when he first gets up, before bath, before going outside, or before leaving the house. The idea is for the child to only wear underwear during his waking hours. Otherwise, inconsistent feedback from diapers and underwear causes confusion for the child. Ms. Johanna exclaims, “Responsibility can’t be taught, it must be given.”
Once you have a few logical routines established, leave some nice blocks of time in which you let your child decide rather or not to visit the bathroom. If you notice that your child is doing that little dance, you may, of course, kindly ask if he thinks it is time to go. Johanna suggests thinking how you would address your superior will lead you to be discreet and neutral. “You’re only pointing out the dance to add to awareness, not because it cues you to persuade the child. It is from experience that we all learn best, and when you let your child do the cueing you will know it when your child nears (self-cueing) mastery.”
Most of all, remember it is common during the first weeks that children are wet multiple times per hour, but then they often start staying dry for longer periods of time. They start developing holding power through their will. Puddles become less frequent (and bigger). Later a child may start to urinate, then hold it, and finish on the toilet.
Ms. Johanna closes, “Underwear provides a small window into the internal process of each child’s own unique learning experience.”