It’s a huge milestone for every child and a daunting prospect for every parent.
Toilet learning the Montessori way is very diffent to potty training.
First of all, this is a process that starts when the child is ready for it, not when the parent is tired of nappies. As always in Montessori, we follow the child. If you observe your child, they will let you know when they are ready. They will stay dry for longer periods, start showing an interest in toilet use or start undressing themselves when they need a diaper change, etc.
Maybe you are already using cloth diapers or some sort of training pants, both will help your child notice when they wet themselves, unlike a disposable diaper. When they recognise this uncomfortable feeling, make it easy for them to use the toilet and get clean.
Have a low potty chair ready and accesible. Make sure they can sit comfortably, with their feet firmly on the ground. Let them wear clothes that are easy to take off and put on by themselves and have lots of spare pants ready in the toileting/changing area. You can use a bucket for soiled clothes and a lovely basket for clean clothes (with elastic waist!).
Other things you might consider are a small chair to facilitate undressing and dressing and a basket with a few books, ideally books about learning to use the toilet. It’s always nice to have something to read when you guide them to the potty after naps, before going outside or before bed.
Help the child clean up the mess if they don’t make it to the toilet in time, make sure to have a childsize mop and bucket or squeegee and cleaning cloth at hand.
No need to call it an ‘accident’, toilet learning is a normal and natural process. So there is also no need for rewards or gold star charts when your child does have success. The experience of being able to do this by themselves is a reward in itself.
It’s often a long process, but once you know your child is ready, don’t go back to nappies whenever it’s more practical for you. That will only slow the process down and confuse your child. You’ll need a good portable potty that you can take with you everywhere you go, so the child always has a familiar and comfortable potty when the need arises.
Every child is different and learns at their own pace, stay calm and patient. As the adult, you have an important role to play in how the toilet learning process is percieved by your child. Be careful not to make them feel anxious, pressured or ashamed about it.
I know you will want more advice than I can give in this newsletter, so here are some more extensive tips from experts from around the globe:
Toilet Learning by Montessori Guide
This is a great video to get you in the right mindset. It explains why it's important to start the process of toilet learning before the crisis of self-affirmation and how toileting is 'work'.
Montessori at Home: Potty Training video
If you prefer to hear it from a fellow Montessori parent, here's a mom explaining the whole process.
Some good blog posts:
A Montessori Approach to Toilet Training at The Montessori Notebook
Toilet Training vs Toilet Learning at Montessori Guide
5 Steps to Montessori Toilet Learning at Pebble Creek Montessori
Learning to use the Toilet at Montessori Australia
8 Montessori-inspired phrases to use for each stage of potty training at Motherly
Toilet Learning Tips from How We Montessori
Toilet Learning vs Toilet Training at Daily Montessori
Potty Training the Montessori Way – Q&A with an expert at Montessori Rocks