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Montessori Approach to Potty Training

5140 Views 11 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Lillianna
OK all you Montessori experts out there, I need your thoughts. DD is 20 months old. According to Paula Polk Lillard's book, Montessori from the Start, we have already missed the sensitive period for toilet training (1 year to 18months)
as we only bought the potty last month. DD now sits on it (fully clothed) whenever I go to the bathroom. This past week, I also have had her sit on the potty for a bit in the morning after breakfast (naked) and before her bath in the evening while the water is running (naked). So far, nothing has gone into the potty. She usually gets up from the potty after about 1 minute of sitting on it, even if I give her a book.

So, should I just keep doing this or should I put the potty away for a year or what?

Could put this under the toddler section but would be interested in what the Montessori approach to this might be, assuming that DD is now physiologically capable of controlling the right muscles (her diapers are now dry for very long periods of time so am thinking that this is the case).
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I would definitely keep the potty out. Just keep offering her opportunities to sit on it. I would put her in thick cotton underpants or let her be naked from the waist down if you are really serious about toileting. I wouldn't every force her to sit on it, especially for any given amount of time. you want it to be something that she has control over. If she seems totally uninterested I also wouldn't push the issue, keep the potty out but let it go for a while. While I do believe in the so called "sensitive period" for toileting I also know that every child is different and some for whatever reason may not master toileting until a much later age. Toilet learning is the term I use as we are not training the children to use the toilet but allowing them to learn with our help where to go to the bathroom. "training" sounds to me like something you'd do with your dog.

When she does go in the potty just reinforce it, you can cheer or clap for her and make a big deal.... but honestly as far as the Montessori approach this would be discouraged. There shouldn't be any emotional reaction by adults when they use the toilet but I've found with my own children this was encouraging especially the first few times as they realized that they had controlled their urine or bm and went in the toilet.

just follow your child, in a relaxed and positive way and I'm guessing she'll catch on to toilet learning when she's ready.
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I would put her in thick cotton underpants or let her be naked from the waist down if you are really serious about toileting. I wouldn't every force her to sit on it, especially for any given amount of time. you want it to be something that she has control over.
What do I do when she pees on the floor because she is not in a diaper and not on the potty. Do I rush her to the potty in mid-pee? Do I just tell her that she can go in the potty the next time?
If you buy some of the thicker ones, she may not pee out of them. It depend though. You could use a pull on diaper cover over it if necessary. One advantage of having them uncovered though is that you will notice right away, as will she and then you can take her to be changed right away.

The way we did it when I worked with toddlers in a M school was that as soon as they were wet, I would walk with them to the bathroom to be changed. Not making it a positive or negative thing, or a big deal for that matter. The inconvience of having to stop what they were doing and get their wet pants off was the reality of it. I found that when changed promptly they did not like to be wet and wanted to be in control of it more.

All of this of reinforces their connection between the sensation of urinating and the fact that that is why they are wet. The child would stand or sit on a bench and assist in the process as much as possible like taking off their wet underpants and pants and putting them in the pail, getting a new pair on for themselves... rather then them laying down and having there diaper changed for them, it's best to have them be involved in the process as much as possible.

I also think there is some importance in changing them in the bathroom as that is where you want them to use the toilet. And by having her sit on the toilet afterwards will help make the connection that is where pee belongs.

Oh this all just reminded me how we would even change BM's with the child standing up, I got really good at it but I can't say I've ever tried with my own children, it was a lot more work. LOL

Good luck with this
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Originally Posted by cmlp
What do I do when she pees on the floor because she is not in a diaper and not on the potty. Do I rush her to the potty in mid-pee? Do I just tell her that she can go in the potty the next time?
I am not responding from montessori perspective but I have found that rushing them to the potty mid-pee usually ended up frightening them. In my house, I would just say 'oh my we missed the potty' matter of factly, engage the child in good spirited clean up (often with a diaper to help make that connection) and say 'maybe next time the potty'.

But I have no idea if that is montessori-ish!!
I totally agree with the points raised above, especially
a. keeping "matter of fact" about using the potty and cleaning up after accidents (no pressure)
b. not requiring use of potty, letting child control use...
c. have child wear cloth pants in home (I think having her "go naked" or sit on potty with book are not be necessary)

My daughter was using the toilet around 18 mths. She was consistently dry in the mornings, so she would sit on the toilet right away and have success each morning. I think it may help to find one time each day when she can be successful (do you notice her needing to go about an hour after eating or just before bed?) If you can identify a time of day to offer the potty consistently for a few days in a row, she can experience some success, then you can add another time of day, etc. until she is using the toilet independently. Let her do as much as possible on her own (pull down pants, wipe, pull up pants, wash hands).

We used the baby bjorn toilet when she was very small. It is just the right size and comfortable for squatting.

Give it time.
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Great. Thanks for all the tips! Lilliana, we also have the Baby Bjorn toilet. She still sits fully clothed on it when I go and now she is also sitting on it naked while I run her bath in the evening - but she hasn't peed in it yet! I'll just keep letting her do this for now and hope that something comes of it.

Unfortunately, we have never been able to do the cloth diaper thing (one of the reasons that I would like to get her onto the potty sooner rather than later is to ease my conscience regarding our contribution to landfull sites
) but I have stopped purchasing Pampers and Huggies and now only get the (I hope) less absorbent generic brands.
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Well, you could try the cotton undies when you will be home for a while and use the diapers when you go out.

I think I had the potty out for almost a month before Lilli was actually using it. It may be awhile before she decides to use it. Just keep it available. There are also folding potty seats you can take with you when you go out. Lilli also saw many other children using the toilet (she was with me in the Casa) so that encouraged her as well.
i'm coming from an EC (elimination communication) perspective, not montessori, but my baby (18 mo) has been going diaperless around the house and sitting on the baby bjorn little potty since he could sit at 6 months old. He wears cloth diapers when it's too cold, or when we go out, but at home he always uses the potty.

This sensitive time seems to ring true - at 12 months he starting pooping exclusively on the potty (trying to pull his clothes off - he hated the feeling of poo in his diaper) and just in the past two months he really began to feel the urination, and now I would say 90 percent of the time says "pee!" and runs to the potty. Sometimes he says "pee!" after it has already happened on the floor, but as pps have mentioned, we are neutral about it, we just take him and put him on the potty saying "this is where we pee, is there anything left in there?" if he resists, he certainly doesn't have to sit, but he usually does not resist. I simply make a point of showing him the right place to pee. Sometimes right when he starts peeing in the wrong place I will touch his penis lightly which stops him long enough to slide the potty over to him, this does not seem to scare him and has not at all delayed his progress. I believe that in the next 6 months he will be out of diapers completely. We did not EC dd, who is now 6, but did offer her the option of the potty and invited her to go when we did, etc. and she was out of diapers by 26 months or so, with absolutely NO pressure from us, so I definitely don't think you've missed your chance!

Just keep offering -- I personally would do the diaperless approach, not use cloth undies, if it's convenient at your house, because it really seems to make a difference in their sensitivity and the frequency of sitting on the potty is much higher. I get much more lazy about being aware when he's in a diaper, such as coming in from being outside, or waking up in the morning, and miss a lot of chances for him to use or practice on the potty.
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Thanks for your posts. As recommended, we have taken the No Diapers At Home approach and DD runs around bottomless or in cotton underpants. She now asks to sit on the potty to go Number Two
. I don't think she is physiologically ready for peeing because she still pees on the floor, including this morning. After the pee accident this morning, she went poo on the potty and while on the potty going poo, she suddenly started to cry. When I asked her what was wrong, she pointed to the floor all around her and said "pee pee, pee pee". I think she was upset that she had gone pee on the floor earlier and not in the potty.

Should I put the potty away for a few more months? I was thinking that since EC parents do this from a much younger age, there would be no problem but maybe at this age she is too "aware" of the idea of failure to start without her being completely physiologically ready? I am just afraid that she will get really discouraged if she is really not physically ready to go Number One yet and therefore keeps peeing on the floor...

Am putting this in the toddler category too.
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that sounds good. I think you can ease your dd's distress about the pee, just say yes, you peed on the floor, wanna help me clean it up (give her a clean rag and let her be next to you)? and keep a smile on your face. I am pretty sure she is old enough to start feeling - physiologically - when she needs to go pee, but it takes a long time before all the synapses are in agreement... my ds pees on the floor several times a day, even though we have been doing this a long time. no big deal. I really think your positive attitude should clear up most of your dd's feelings of failure or confusion.
You're getting there! I would leave the seat out, but continue with the non-coercive/gentle guidance. Now that she has realized that she doesn't like to pee on the floor, she will urinate in the toilet! It may take a few more mistakes, but she will learn.
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