At Trillium Bilingual Montessori we encourage children to learn toileting at their own pace.
Children joining any of our programs do not have to be able to use the toilet independently or reliably. We work in partnership with parents and children to ensure that the toilet learning process is done in a respectful way that follows the child's independent learning path. We encourage parents to communicate with the classroom teachers to discuss starting the toilet learning process with their child.
Teachers are trained to observe children and will alert parents when their child is exhibiting signs of toilet readiness. Some of the signs they are looking for include:
- Wanting to go to the washroom when other children are using the toilet.
- Observing children who are using the toilet independently.
- Asking questions about toileting, the process, the routine or the toilet
- Actively participating in changing their diaper
- Asking to change their soiled diaper
- Hiding whenever they are having a bowel movement
- The child seems to have a toilet schedule
(the child goes to the washroom at the same time each day)
- Asking or trying to sit on the toilet
- Asking questions or wanting to wear underwear
- Wanting to flush the toilet
Our Toilet Learning Philosophy
Tell Us When Ready
Unless a parent expresses wanting to use an alternative method, we rely on the child's readiness to 'tell us' when a child should begin the toilet learning process.
Accidents at School
At Trillium Bilingual Montessori, we expect children to learn through their failure. We apply this concept to toilet learning. A child needs to have an accident, feel wet and uncomfortable to know that they do not like the feeling of having an accident. The next time, the child may consider using the toilet instead. The staff will never belittle, scorn or shame a child for having a toileting accident. We simply assist the child in changing their clothing and reminding them that they can ask us for help to use the toilet.
Children are expected to wash their hands with soap every time they use the toilet. We make it part of the routine from the beginning so they become accustomed to it.
We expect children to take toilet paper on their own, to wipe independently and assist them when needed. Some children are very insistent that no one help them wipe (even after a bowel movement). We do not force them to let us wipe them, though we will ask if we can assist them and encourage them to let us help and verbally talking them through the process. This may result in some soiled underwear. Please do not make your child feel unsuccessful or shameful. Instead, keep reiterating and talking through the steps of how to wipe themselves. If this is an ongoing problem (like causing skin irritation) please talk to your child's teacher about alternative options such as flushable wet wipes.
We encourage parents to send their child in 'training' or thick absorbent cotton underwear when we start the learning process. They are preferred to disposable pull-up diapers since they allow the child to feel wetness, be uncomfortable (therefore not wanting to urinate in underwear) and cause less diaper/pull-up confusion for the child. Overall, cotton/training underwear tend to reduce the toilet learning time and allow the children to use the toilet reliably quicker than when using disposable pull-up diapers. We will still use disposable underwear (or diaper) during nap time until the child is able to stay dry while sleeping.
During the initial learning period, we ask parents to dress their child in easy to pull on and off pants such as jogging pants, cotton pants, leggings, etc. We do not recommend jeans, belts, one piece outfits, overalls or anything that can be challenging for the child to untie or pull on and off independently. We want the child to be as independent as possible when using the toilet which includes pulling their own pants down and up. You can buy easy to wash bottoms from a second hand store for this purpose...you may need many options for the first few weeks. Send 4-5 change of clothes (pants, underwear and socks) to school for the first few weeks in case we need it.
We send soiled clothing home at the end of each day. Please replace the change of clothes for the next day (or the next time your child attends). We ask that parents do not get upset with their child if they had an accident during the day. This causes a lot of anxiety in children who do not want to ''get in trouble''.
What You Can Do At Home
Children learn through observation. Take your child to the washroom with you, especially the same-sex parent/guardian, whenever possible. Let them ask questions or ask for help with flushing or have them wash their hands along with you afterwards.
In order for children to feel comfortable using the toilet anywhere, parents can encourage them to use the toilet when you visit family and friends. Eventually, parents can introduce them to public washrooms. It may take a few visits before they feel comfortable enough to use the toilet. Don't force them, that might create a fear in the child. Be patient and encouraging.
Some children are independently using the toilet for a period, only to regress and start having accidents. Regression is normal. Toilet learning is not linear, there may be some ups and downs. Children who are very sensitive to changes will often regress when a big life change occurs like a new baby in the family, a new childcare center, a change in living arrangements or a new house. There are countless reasons why a child may experience some regression in their toilet learning. As a general rule, if the regression period is of short duration, under a few weeks long, you should start seeing progress again in their toilet learning. If you are concerned about your child's regression, you can speak to your child's teacher or your family physician to rule out any physical/medical reasons.
Accidents at Home
Be ready for accidents. Many, many accidents in the first few weeks. As your child learns to listen to his/her body cues and signs, they will become more effective at using the toilet successfully. Until then, do not make the child feel dirty, bad about themselves or shameful when they have an accident. Simply make a statement such as: ''I see you are wet. Let's sit on the toilet to make sure that you got it all out.'' or ''That must be uncomfortable, let's get you into dry clothing.'' or even ''Did you forget to stop and go to the toilet? Maybe next time you need to stop a little quicker.''