Potty training the Montessori way requires a more relaxed parenting approach. Montessori potty training is referred to as “toilet training” because it is a natural process. A child will learn toilet training at their own pace, rather than when the parent decides they are ready for training.
Use Words that Express Using the Toilet
To train the Montessori way, you will need to use words that express using the toilet. The Montessori method is a hands-on and self-directed learning approach. This training approach gives a child a lot of independence. Giving your child a vocabulary and using words frequently will help them learn about understanding the training better. It is important to talk to your child about changing a diaper and familiarize them with what is going on. You can show your child where things are, and use child-friendly potty words. You can ask your child when their diaper is wet and slowly start to teach your kid about using the potty. You can also familiarize your child with where the toilet is. Make sure to avoid using any negative words and choose your words wisely.
Some common words are listed below for Montessori training:
- number 1
- number 2
- toilet room
Recognize if Your Child Is Ready for Training
The next important step is to recognize that your child is ready for toilet training. When it comes to toilet training, there is no rush. In fact, if you start toilet training too early, or try to force it upon your child, it may take even longer.
Here are a few questions to ask if you think your child may be ready for training:
- Can they walk to the toilet?
- Can they sit on the toilet?
- Can they understand and follow basic directions?
- Is your child still learning to communicate?
- Do they seem interested in learning?
- Is your child reading books about using the potty?
- Does your child want to learn how to be independent?
If you answer yes to most of these questions, your child may be ready for toilet training. If you have answered no, your child may need a bit more time.
It is important to pay attention to if your child likes wearing a diaper or not. It is also crucial to see if your child is becoming more independent or can do more things on their own. If your child can follow instructions well and show interest in the bathroom, they may be ready for training. See if they ask any questions about the bathroom or use words such as “diaper is dirty.” Most children show signs between 18 and 24 months old. It may take two to six months to toilet train.
Most kids will be ready to train when they have more muscle control and can make small connections. They will also be able to have dressing skills and a good understanding of their surroundings. If they are constantly developing skills and becoming more independent, they may be ready for training. Most kids are excited to learn how things work.
Prepare the Environment for Toilet Training
When your child is ready to toilet train, make sure the environment is well prepared. The first step to this is going through the bathroom and making sure everything is ready to go. Make sure everything is in your children’s reach and is not too high. Keep everything simple, and show your child where everything is. There are two types of potty chairs, a standalone potty, and a toddler-sized toilet seat. A standalone is a toddler size potty chair with a bowl that can empty into the toilet.
A toddler-sized seat can be placed on top of a toilet seat. This seat lets your child feel secure so they don’t think they will fall in. There are even some toddler-sized seats that have a stepstool attached.
Listed below are some things you may need for the bathroom:
- Have a small sink or a step stool so your child can wash their hands
- Towels, washcloths, and/or wipes on hand
- You may want to keep a hamper in the bathroom for your child’s wet/dirty clothes
- Clean clothes and a change of underwear
- Pictures on the wall to help pass time
- Basket with children’s books or activities
If possible, pull up any nice rugs around your house and have cleaning supplies ready for the floor. Keep extra towels on hand and sheets ready to change in the middle of the night. Keep a pair of clothes in the car and a change of underwear when you are on the go. It is important to be well prepared and respond quickly to your child’s needs.
Establish a Routine
To toilet train, a routine needs to be established. First, you will need to explain how things work in simple terms that your child can understand. It is important to be consistent when it comes to toilet training. Have your child sit on the toilet at the same time each day for a few minutes. You will need to explain to them what they are doing. Teach your child how to get on and off of the toilet and teach them to flush the toilet. Consider having your child sit on the toilet after meals or after drinking liquids.
You may even have them sit on the toilet before going out or coming home, waking up in the morning, and going to bed. If you get into the habit of doing this, the training will run a lot smoother. It is important to give yourself time to let your child learn how to use the bathroom. The routine should be consistent, and you will have to work together.
Stay with your child, read a book together, or play with toys while they are in the bathroom. This will make it a positive and happy environment for your child. You want to make sure your child looks forward to using the bathroom. If there are toys and activities, your child may be more motivated. If you see cues that your child needs to go to the bathroom, respond quickly. Some of these cues include crossing legs, grunting, or squatting. When you are potty training, avoid clothes that are harder to come off. The key to success is timing. If you establish a routine, you will be successful with toilet training.
It is important to have your child go to the bathroom if they are squirming. Have them change into dry underwear immediately after they get wet and have them get used to dryness. You can also teach your kid to wash their hands regularly and use soap. Practice turning the water on and off, and teach them the difference between hot and cold water.
Supervision is great if your child needs it, but it is important to encourage your child to be independent. Parents should be there for their kids while also giving their children space. Never make a child sit on the toilet against their will. You can offer specific times for your child to go to the bathroom, but do not force them to do so. Go at your child’s pace and let them do things in their own timing.
There are other ways you can teach your child to be independent as well. One way is letting them make decisions for themselves. You can do this by letting them get a cup of water or serving themselves. Letting them make a few of their own decisions helps them be independent. When you force a child to do something, they will be less willing. When you let your child have a little bit of independence, they will be more encouraged to do things on their own. They can learn the importance of using the bathroom, and be excited to go at their own pace.
Check out our guide to promoting independence the Montessori way for more information.
Support Your Child
When your child does not make it to the bathroom on time, it is important to support them. Some days may be harder than others, but it is important to remember that they are learning. When your child is toilet training, remain positive with them. Be there to help your kid learn and always provide support.
First, remember to never punish your kid or be disappointed in them for having a potty accident. Tell your child it was an accident and be calm and reassuring. Never make your child feel ashamed, and remember that positive language goes a long way. You may just want to tell them that they need to get dry clothes on. If your child has an accident on the floor, remember that they are not the first kid to do so, and they won’t be the last. Do your best to remain calm, relaxed, and patient. Try not to be frustrated because it is all a brand new learning process for them.
One way you can encourage learning is to help them clean up with you and wipe the floor. If you are calm and positive with your child, it will be a better learning experience for both of you.
There are a few factors that might play a role if your child is struggling with toilet training. If they are doing well, they can still have accidents because of different factors:
- If you have moved recently
- If there is an illness or family crisis
- Different family routines change
These things play a role because they can all cause stress within a family. This is normal and may require you to take a step back. If toilet training does not work at first, it may just mean your child is not ready. You may have to take a break for one to three months. Training may be difficult at first, but remain patient because everyone learns at a different pace. When a child is ready to learn, they will make the effort. When a parent is calmer, the training will be more successful for the child.
Related: Is Montessori right for every child?
Watch for Signs that the Training Is Going Well
There are a few signs to recognize that the potty training is going well. One important sign is that the diaper stays dry for a longer time. If the diaper stays dry for a few hours, this means that the potty training is going well. Your child is learning and is taught well.
The potty training is also going well if your child can push down and pull up their pants. If they show interest in using the toilet, this is a good sign. Lastly, if your child is having regular toilet use and success. These are all great signs of success. This means that your child is learning and growing. As time goes on, they will only get more successful.
Do Not Reward the Child
Although many parents want to reward their child for toilet training, it is important to not give rewards if you’re wanting to potty train the Montessori way. Remember, in Montessori, “there are no punishments, no rewards, and only carefully thought-out respectful interactions, encouragement, and redirection.” Source.
One thing you can do is let your child pick out a few pairs of underwear. Be positive and happy towards your child, especially when they make progress. This might make them excited and encourage them to use the bathroom. It is important to not give out rewards because then your child will always be expecting rewards from using the bathroom. If they do not always get rewards, they may feel like they didn’t do well. If you give out rewards, then your children will expect rewards for tasks like brushing teeth or finishing a meal.
Check out our full article for more information on raising your toddler the Montessori way.