Friday, 25 November 2016

Potty Learning with Montessori | Part 1

When we moved into the camping trailer in August, I was determined to start potty training Jerome as I thought he was showing most of the signs of readiness.


At first, he was willing to sit for long periods of time without complaint, and we would read the special book I had purchased for potty training. He had no success, and eventually tired of sitting on the potty. I began trying to bribe him with candy if he would go on the potty, which always ended in a meltdown because he was much too young to understand bribery.

It felt wrong to me. I was stressed out and he would hold his pee for hours at a time until I put his diaper on. Eventually, we decided he needed a break, and I did not revisit seriously trying to train him until we had moved into the rental.


In that time, I did a bit of reading and especially liked what I read here and here.

Potty Learning

Exploring the Montessori approach to toilet training - referred to as toilet learning in the Montessori vernacular, went against everything I had previously read and heard about toileting.

No bribes, no charts, no "magical one-weekend method".

One of the most contrastive ways Montessori parents must think about toileting is in thinking of it as learning rather than as training.

When I read about how controlling their bodily functions is just another part of life which they must learn, much the same as walking, crawling, or using a spoon on their own, that was when it clicked for me.

It seemed natural and obvious that children need to be given the space and freedom to learn the process of controlling their own bodily functions. As is the case for all other areas of growth and development, it is my responsibility to give support, encouragement and a prepared environment for success, but it is ultimately up to my child to respond and to learn.


This is the simple potty area we have set up, and it is working for us for now. I should probably get a little pail or something for his wet underwear and would like a small mat for underneath.

It is still really hard not to revert to the old way I had thought of toileting, hard to stay detached from the process because I do have so many motives for wanting him trained - diaper changes, the extra cloth laundry, how wet he is in the morning. But I know it will come more naturally with time, and I know I want to commit to potty learning.

This will be the first in what I know will be many posts about toilet learning, as I know it is a learning process that can be one step forward, two steps back. However, today was his first big success with the potty and another instance of Montessori being successful. I am always so excited to see concrete effects of the Montessori methods I am implementing.


Maybe a bit of TMI, but the amazing thing was how I could see him learning as he used the potty this morning. He would push, get up and inspect what he had done, then try again. Instead of it being about mommy putting him on the potty, this was something he was in charge of, and therefore, took so much pride in.

I know he still has a long way to go, and I know I still have so many moments of patience and detaching myself, but it is just nice to see that there maybe is a light at the end of the tunnel. And here he is, spending the rest of the day in a diaper because that is what he is asking for.

Thank you so much for reading. For the rest of Jerome's potty learning journey, check out Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | & Part 5

God bless,
Olivia Fischer

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