A Montessori Approach to Toileting
What is Montessori about?
What are we trying to do as educators?
“Follow the child.”
“Give the child the independence on the levels they can handle.”
The parent and teacher are there to assist the child. The Montessori Teacher trained at the 0-3 level is called the Assistant to Infancy. This is an appropriate label for all teachers of Montessori pedagogy. We are the link between the child and his or her environment. We are there to assist the child, not to do it for them.
What does this have to do with toilet training?
Moving away from Montessori and any other theory for a moment—
If we look to nature and to “following the child”, there are three things that no one can control, no matter how old you are: sleep, eating, and toileting.
Modern day living and technology, unfortunately manipulates and sometimes controls these patterns, causing all sorts of behaviour problems and nervous disorders. We must look to the child.
What will help the child to be successful?
Changing children in appropriate locations
Keeping them in touch with the reality of the situation
Children need to be involved in this process
“Help me to help myself.”
What should the adult do?
Going to the toilet is the most natural thing in the world to
do. We must keep it in its proper
place, e.g. avoid clapping and celebrating.
Toilet training does not start at age 2 or 3 as the advertising would have us believe. Toilet training starts at birth. It is preferable to use cotton pants/nappies so the baby feels wet and dry. Through this the baby internalizes and understands the process of going to the toilet. Unfortunately society does not find the use of cotton nappies acceptable anymore. We live in a disposable age of throw away and convenience.
What can we do as Montessorians to assist the child?
Feeling wet and being wet allows the child
Even at bedtime the child needs to feel wet and to understand the feeling of peeing at night. This is not always desirable for parents/carers.
Disadvantages of Disposable Nappies
When children are allowed to control this area of development themselves, they are successful—usually earlier than children who wear disposable nappies. But most of all they do it when they are ready.
“I can do it. I can master my own body.”
We should bear in mind the following points as we help to raise children in our modern day world:
This is what Montessorians can give to a child when assisting them in this developmental process. No one should control or manipulate any developmental process of a child, especially in the areas of sleeping, eating, and toileting.
We must note that these guidelines are for children who have no medical or sensitive developmental needs. In such cases we should adapt our approach in light of the medical advice and psychological guidance which has been provided.
If you are interested in Montessori toys and educational materials for using Montessori practices such as these, in the home for children from birth to age 12, or in schools, go to this link: MONTESSORI TOYS & EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS
Return to Michael Olaf Lectures and information: LECTURES
If you are in Amsterdam and would like more information concerning this article contact:
2 Voices – Montessori Bi-lingual Pre-school
1054 MA AMSTERDAM