It’s been two weeks since we introduced Zach to the potty. I only have one word to describe our experience:
Our brief journey has been hassle-free and has become a daily reminder of the respect we should have towards the youngest members of our species. I keep asking myself why I waited so long to introduce this process, even though we’re starting a lot earlier than most families. He seems so content every time he relieves himself on the potty, and his discomfort when his cloth diaper is wet or soiled is more evident now.
We are approaching toilet education with the view that, from Zach’s perspective, using the potty is not a big deal since elimination is a natural bodily function. Therefore, we don’t make a huge celebration out of every pee, nor do we pressure him if he’s not willing to use the potty. We have just included sitting on the potty for 2-5 minutes as part of our daily rhythm and routine – first thing in the morning, last thing before bedtime, and before and after each nap. Zach eliminates on the potty on average about three out of the six opportunities he gets every day. Some days he’s happy to sit on the potty for 5 minutes, and other days he wriggles out of it as soon as his bottom touches the plastic. We respect his wishes every time. His awareness is definitely growing; at first it seemed he peed by chance, after several minutes of sitting, but now he’ll go as soon as he sits down.
We’re not the only ones having success with early toilet education: a close friend decided to keep her 11-month old son diaper-free for a couple of days to determine his urination patterns. Based on her observations, she started taking him to the bathroom at certain intervals and now the little boy is successfully using the potty!
Yesterday, my husband, Zach and I went to a gathering with several French and Belgian families. Upon finding out I was a Montessori teacher, a French woman asked how I practiced Montessori at home. I told her we did some things a little differently than most American families, and gave her the example of the floor bed and early toilet education. While she was surprised by the floor bed, she told me that potty training during the first year of life made perfect sense from her cultural viewpoint. And then a Belgian mom told me that her child had regular bowel movements in the potty by 12 months of age and was completely dry by 18 months.
“Difference is of the essence of humanity… [and] should never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.” —John Hume
P.S.: Remember my plans to travel to Mexico with our potty? Well, my mother – the most awesome Montessori mother/grandmother alive – just bought him his very own potty to use during our visit! Hurray for supportive grandparents!!!