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Montessori Potty Training: The Guide to Toilet Learning

Montessori Potty Training: The Guide to Toilet Learning

Toilet training is one of the most challenging milestones in a child's development. Some parents turn this process into a competition: “My little one is already walking without diapers" or "My kiddo already knows what a potty is." However, Montessori potty training, despite Montessori's advocacy for early development and child independence, still advocates for moving at an individual pace acceptable to the specific child without comparing them to other peers. As modern pediatricians say: they'll learn by school age, and if a child is already a year or a year and a half old and still using diapers, there's no reason to panic. The ability of a kid to control their natural urges typically develops by the age of 2: some earlier, some a bit later, but it will definitely happen. So, the main advice to parents: stay calm, observe the kiddo, and introduce the potty gradually, without pressure on the child and without self-blame.

Everything has its time

Every child develops at their own pace and in their own time. Unlike traditional methods of toilet training, which may rely on reward or coercion, Montessori toilet training emphasizes respect for the child's autonomy and awareness of their body. The foundation of Montessori toilet learning is teaching the child to listen to the signals of their own body. And this applies not only to toilet habits. Toddlers should constantly rely on their feelings, determining when they're hungry, when their body is tired and needs rest, and so on. Usually, at such an early age, parents themselves decide when the child should wake up, when to go to bed, when to eat, and so on, as relying solely on the child's desires is extremely difficult. Therefore, Montessori suggests finding the middle ground: asking toddlers about their feelings and desires when you can fulfill them.

Prepare the environment

Although a child won't start using the potty immediately after birth, you can buy it in advance, show it to the kid, and explain what it's for. You can even use pretend play by having a doll sitting on the potty and explaining that this is how it goes to the bathroom. Another option is to provide the little ones with immediate access to a toilet with a special child-sized seat. To make it easier to reach the height of the toilet, it's better to use a bathtub stand: a safe wooden step stool that will help facilitate toilet use. The environment and your explanations should be calm. Prepare not only the environment but also yourself. Everything won't happen in one day, and one or two explanations are not enough. But gradually, in a friendly atmosphere and in a prepared environment, your little one will learn to use the toilet or potty instead of diapers.

The pace of the child matters

The kids determine their own pace and timing for toilet independence. Instead of imposing a strict schedule, parents and caregivers observe signs of readiness, such as showing interest in the bathroom, expressing discomfort with soiled diapers, or demonstrating awareness of bodily functions. Respecting the cues and readiness of the child, toilet training becomes an experience of cooperation and expanded opportunities for both the kid and the caregiver.

Encouragement of independence

Developing independence and self-care skills occupies a central place in Montessori toilet training. Parents and caregivers can support this process by involving the child in toilet-related activities from an early age, such as washing hands, flushing the toilet, and selecting underwear. Providing the little one with opportunities to practice these skills independently strengthens their sense of competence and autonomy, laying the foundation for lifelong self-care habits and responsibility.

As the kid gains confidence and proficiency in toilet training, they gradually transition to greater independence in managing their routines in the bathroom. This may involve transitioning from a potty to a toilet seat insert or using a stool for independent access to the toilet. By allowing the kid to take responsibility for their toilet procedures, parents and caregivers foster a sense of independence and self-sufficiency that extends beyond the bathroom.

Use of positive reinforcement

In Montessori, positive reinforcement takes the form of recognition, encouragement, and praise for the child's efforts and achievements. Instead of relying on external rewards or punishments, parents and educators offer verbal praise, gentle gestures, and supportive feedback to reinforce the kidd's progress and achievements in toilet training. Focusing on the little one's internal motivation and sense of accomplishment, positive reinforcement promotes a positive and holistic approach to toilet training.

Overcoming setbacks and challenges

Like any aspect of child development, toilet training may be accompanied by failures, problems, and moments of disappointment. In Montessori, failures are seen as opportunities for growth and learning rather than obstacles to success. When faced with difficulties, parents and caregivers approach the situation with patience, empathy, and understanding, providing support and encouragement while allowing the kids space to manage their emotions and experiences.


With patience, understanding, and a supportive environment, toilet training becomes a natural experience that empowers kids, laying the foundation for lifelong self-care and confidence. Watch for signs of readiness, and prepare the environment with a small-sized potty or toilet seat, stool, and easily accessible toilet accessories. Be patient and avoid comparing your child's success with others: they will learn by the time they go to school. Repeat this to yourself as a mantra, approaching temporary setbacks with maximum patience and success as another reason to praise and support. Trust in your little one's abilities and celebrate every little victory along the way. With this approach, diapers will become unnecessary one day.

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At what age is a child ready for Montessori toilet learning?

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Montessori toilet training focuses on readiness rather than age, so it's important to observe signs of readiness such as increased interest in the bathroom, ability to communicate needs, and awareness of bodily functions. Some kids may show readiness as early as 18 months, while others may be closer to 2-3 years old.

How can parents encourage independence during Montessori toilet training?

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Create a space tailored to the child's needs. This includes having a potty or properly arranged WC room. Praise and positive reinforcement for their efforts and achievements also contribute to feelings of independence and confidence.

What should I do if my child experiences setbacks or resistance during Montessori toilet training?

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Setbacks and resistance are common during toilet training, and it's important to approach them with patience, empathy, and understanding. Offer support and encouragement, create a calm and supportive atmosphere, and be prepared to adjust your approach according to your child's cues and comfort level.