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Toilet training needn’t drive you potty | Montessori Hampstead | Nursery Hampstead


As a nursery school that accepts children from two and a half, we are often called upon to give advice on toilet training and we are very used to helping our youngest students get to grips with going to the toilet independently.


Here are our top tips for a stress free experience.

1. Observe your child
The first thing to look out for is whether the child is ready to be nappy free. This can happen at any age from 18 months to 3 years. If you observe your child and look for the signs, it will help you pick the right time and it won’t take too long for them to be fully trained.  If you go too early, you could be at it for a long time, leading to frustrations on both sides.


Signs to look out for;

• They are dry for longer periods of time throughout the day.

• You can tell they are aware of their movements (if your child leaves the room or hides behind a curtain to do a number two, they are aware!)

• They tell you when they need to be changed or when they have eliminated

• They show an interest when you go to the toilet and what you do in there


2. Practise makes perfect
Before you start in earnest, take time to get used to the idea of going on the toilet (or a potty). Some people have potties, other use smaller trainer seats to put on the toilet seat. Whatever you use, start to change your child’s nappy in the bathroom, so that they associate the bathroom with the business. As soon as you take the nappy off, let them sit down on the potty/loo for a while. The same before bathime. The idea is to ensure they are comfortable with sitting on it, they don’t actually need to do anything in it.  If you are using the toilet, it is a good idea to add a stool, so that they can reach the seat on their own. If we have to lift them up onto the seat, it defeats the object of independence.


3. Go pants shopping!
The thing that seems to be universally popular is making a big deal about buying some new pants. In this day and age, whatever their interest, you can probably buy a set of pants with pictures of it on them. Or just choose plain ones in their favourite colour. And let them put them on them on and take them off independently.  A lot of children are keen not to get their new garments wet or dirty, which is of course very useful in toilet training.


4. Ensure you can stay home for a few days
Once the nappies are off, it will be much easier if you can stay put at home for a few days, at least 3-5. To make it easier, go trouser/skirt free and let your child roam around in just his pants. Then take them every 30 mins to the toilet. Even if they don’t want to go - pop into the toilet and just have a sit down.  There will be plenty of accidents, especially in the first few days. But that is normal and natural. Just clean them up without any fuss.


5. Try to resist the temptations of rewards
A lot of people use reward charts or use the incentive of sweets/toys when they deposit something in the toilet but it is much more effective to use gentle words of encouragement and praise. Internalised rewards are much more effective in the long term. Equally, you do not want to get stuck in a pattern when they will not use the toilet unless you have a Haribo to hand. Do not scold any accidents. As we mentioned earlier, just remark that accidents happen and if your child wants, they can help tidy up by getting clean clothes etc.


How do we support this at school?
We ask that all children are out of nappies before they start - if necessary they can wear pull ups. We encourage parents to share what they have been doing at home so we can support that at school.  When children start going to the loo for the first time, we suggest that they go with friends or in a group. This helps the potty training process because younger children look up to older children who go to the loo independently. Montessori children really are role models in all aspects of education!


If you have any questions on toilet training or anything else, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Casa dei Bambini Montessori