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Montessori Method of Toilet Training

by Christina Shepherd McGuire

Maria Montessori believes that young children have "sensitive periods" in which they focus immensely on one task. During the potty training phase, which starts at 10 to 12 months according to Montessori professionals, parents and teachers must foster training by providing the appropriate tools. This early-age toilet training philosophy advocates routine, awareness and independence as the child works towards his freedom from diapers. When choosing this route of potty training, make sure you're committed -- for the task may take several months -- and maintain a positive attitude throughout the process.

Encourage a Routine

Montessori professionals suggest introducing the toilet as soon as the child is walking. The Sunflower Montessori School in Littleton, CO explains this philosophy, "The young child’s muscle control develops from head to toe, and the sphincter control of the bladder and bowels happens right around 10 to 12 months old." Start encouraging a routine where your child sits on the potty upon waking, before and after all meals, and right before bed. A sense of routine helps establish your child's comfort level with the toilet and gently nudges them towards your expectations. Additionally, transitioning into cloth diapers or pull ups at this stage helps your toddler distinguish sensation.

Diaper Changing

According to Heidi Philippart-Alcock of Two Voices Montessori School, diaper changing should happen only in the bathroom. This could be challenging if you tend towards on-the-go changings, as centering all toileting activities in the same location requires staying home. Bathroom changings, as well as allowing your child to change and dispose of his own diaper, communicate proper hygiene and help develop the child's sense of order. Once this association is established, you can take it on the road knowing your child fully grasps the concept.

Assist in Awareness

Using cloth underpants or thin, disposable pull-ups helps with wetness sensitivity. Montessori teachers suggest immediate diaper changings to further accelerate this skill. Conversely, leaving a child in a wet pull-up desensitizes this reaction, causing delayed potty training. This hint proves successful for bedtime training too. Double up undies and pad the bed with a waterproof barrier to hasten night-time training. If your child slips up, gently walk him to the toilet and quickly change him before returning him to a dry bed.

Foster Independence

Allowing children their independence while potty training ultimately makes them successful, suggests Philippart-Alcock. While the Montessori method may take more commitment and patience, the results yield faster training times. As the process progresses, your child may seek privacy when using the toilet. Relinquishing control and helping them learn on their own creates a feeling of accomplishment for the child, offering a reward for diligent guidance.

About the Author

Christina Shepherd McGuire writes articles about adventure sports, fashion, mothering and natural living. Since 2003, her work has appeared in "Action Outdoor and Bike Magazine," "Teton Family Magazine," "The Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine" and several online publications. McGuire holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature.

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