關於戒尿布的那兩三事 - My journey of supporting my son “toilet learning”
通常，我會問他，你需要媽媽提醒你上廁所還是你可以自己主動上？ 或者是你要現在去上廁所還是等做完這個工作再上廁所？ 又或者是你要媽媽陪你上廁所還是爸爸陪？等等的選擇。但是如果哥哥鬧起情緒的時候，可以很久，很猛。這時候，我都是坐在旁邊陪伴，等他冷靜下來的時候，再和他說話，同理他情緒，然後再給出兩個選擇。當然，隨著哥哥長大，也許不再是提供兩個選擇，而是和他溝通，比如說，為什麼要上？他可以怎麼做？等等。
My son F is two years old and nine months old, and he has successfully quit using diapers! In the Montessori language, F can already go to the bathroom independently, although there are accidents occasionally.
How did I use Montessori to support my son to go to the bathroom independently? You can find much information on reminding children to regularly go to the toilet and learn to pull pants online. This article will share more about the regression period, his emotional journey, and how I, as a mother, responded during this journey.
To highlight few points:
Every child is different: their personality, temperament, tolerance are distinct, etc. So we need to observe the child and apply other methods accordingly.
The child goes to the toilet independently. We must first understand, whose matter is it? Is it the child's own or the parent's matter? If it is a matter for parents, then when and to what extent will it be considered a child's matter? These should all be considered because this is the beginning of the child's so-called "freedom and boundaries."
In the toilet learning phase, what is the mentality of the parents or the primary caregivers? Are you ready? The mindset is crucial. Because during this learning process, there will be a lot of repetition, how the parents or the primary caregiver's tone will significantly affect the child.
F has a very gentle personality, but he is also very persistent and has strong opinions. So during the toilet learning period, I need to often work with him together.
Set up children's toilet environment at home
When F was very young, I prepared a children's potty which looks like an adult one. I told my F: now you grow up, you can sit on your potty like us sitting on our potty. Next to the potty, I prepared the following items:
Clean learning pants, pants, clothes
Children's picture book about going to the toilet
On the wall next to the children's potty, I put some pictures of children sitting on the potty happily.
Dirty clothes basket
A little bench where the child can sit on and change his pants and clothes
Space for children to wash their hands
How to support him actively and voluntarily go to the toilet?
F did an excellent job of toilet exercises at school; there are still minor accidents (referring to the peeing part). Of course, this is a normal thing, and I must accept it. Based on my observations, F can tolerate wearing wet pants for a long time, especially the learning pants (because they are thicker). For him, this is not uncomfortable. Not long after he learned to pull his pants, I change to using ordinary panties because the material is very thin so that F will feel better. Indeed, not long after I switched him to wear regular underwear, F would tell the adults immediately after peeing that he was wet.
Every time F wet himself, I will tell him: You are wet. This is normal, and you are learning; please come and sit on the toilet and change your pants. After he changes his pants, I will explain to him: next time, we can come to the bathroom in advance and pee when we have a bulging belly.
When F developed his blade-holding skills, he would start to hold back urine or challenge holding back a little longer. Sometimes he would forget about going to the toilet to continue playing. Of course, like all children, F does not want adults to keep reminding, but he seems to have not yet made it to go to the bathroom on time, so he often wets his pants. It was getting stressful for both of us. But I can't force him because he might be resisting going to the toilet and causing a bigger problem.
So, one day (when F's toilet situation at school was relatively stable), I told him: "Going to the toilet is your matter, not mine. So starting today, if you wet your pants at school or home, we need to wash your pants and clean the wet place. I can help you wash the pants together, but you also need to wash them yourself. In the beginning, F was pleased about washing pants (because it is a new work for him), but just like that, we washed pants for about a week, sometimes two pairs, sometimes twelve pairs, and after washed about four-five times, F felt no more fun and was very tired. I said to him, "Yes, washing pants is very tiring. If you don't want to wash your pants, the only way is to go to the toilet in advance." Soon after that, his urinating situation improved significantly. Now, most of the time, F can go to the toilet in advance by himself and no longer needs to be reminded.
What about pooping? We also applied the same method. F felt the pants with poop were very dirty. After washing his pants three times, he manages to go to poo in the toilet by himself.
My child has a tantrum about going to the toilet; what should I do?
When it comes to children going to the bathroom, most children have various emotions/tantrums: for example, they don't like being interrupted at work, don't like being reminded, don't want to change, etc.
Usually, I would ask him, do you need your mother to remind you to go to the toilet, or can you go to the toilet yourself? Or do you want to go to the toilet now or wait until you finish this work? Or do you want me to accompany you to the bathroom or your father? If F has an intense tantrum, I always sit next to accompany him. When he calms down, I will talk to him again, empathize with his emotions, and then provide two choices. Of course, as he grows up, I may no longer provide two options, but communicate with him, for example, why do you need to go? What can he do? and many more.
When F started washing his pants, especially when he was washing his pants with poop, he resisted. For example, there were days when he refused to poo, or in the evening, he dreamed screaming: I don't want to wash my pants. At that moment, all I can do is "pause, wait for him." We can not go back to stage zero, so we still need to wash pants if he pees or poo on it, but there is no rush to remind him to go to the toilet. After getting up every day, I will tell F that you can go to the bathroom to defecate. If you want, if you are not ready, we can wait for you. I know that you are very resistant and have some discomforts now. I understand that change is a lot of pressure for you. But you have done an excellent job, and you are learning to use the toilet with all your efforts. I love you, and I am proud of you. We can do it together. Just like that, after holding back for four days, he said to me one day: "I'm going to the toilet to defecate now."
Some reflections on my own:
I'm not particularly eager to change children's diapers, clean their poop, etc., so I always use paper diapers. Because of its convenience, it is easier to clean. But this is not the best for the child because it makes the child not feel uncomfortable with his body. Moreover, he has been adapted to using diapers to solve his physiological needs, and suddenly, we wanted him to use the toilet. This is a significant change for him. If we truly respect the child, we should start from the child's perspective in this process, not from my plan.
Things like going to the toilet, eating, and self-sleeping are all-natural physiological processes. If we started to introduce how to eat (such as sitting in a chair and eating with a spoon) and how to sleep (sleeping in bed) since children were young, why can't we introduce the toilet when children are little (how to sit, when to sit, etc.)? The goal is not to quit using diapers right away, but a process of recognition and natural acceptance so that children will not feel unfamiliar with using the toilet. When F's little brother F started to sit independently, we switched using learning pants in the afternoon and regularly went to the bathroom together. The purpose is to make the H feel familiar.
Patience and acceptance. Respect every child's difference because not all children can quit using diapers immediately, and not all children accept the same method. The process of children's toilet practicing is iterative. All I can do is be patient and accept that this is a back-and-forth process.
On that day, I joked with my husband: "When F successfully defecated in the toilet on his own, there is a sense of accomplishment more than when I successfully signed a million deal at work before!"