Saturday, October 04, 2008

Van-the-man in stage 4, Nuvy in underpants!

I'll bet you thought you were rid of us, eh?


Just thought I'd drop by my neglected blog to check on Van's progress in Stage 4 (I blogged about that when Nuvy was his age, and thought it would be fun to compare), and also to talk about something I've been asked about several times, and am finally able to speak about from real parenting experience: toilet training.

First, my Stage 4 man. Isn't he sweet?

He's now 10 months old, right in the middle of stage 4, and seems to be more or less where I'd expect him to be, but doing it all very differently from the way Nuvy did.

Motor development: As far as walking development, he's crawling efficiently on all fours and pulling up, but not yet cruising the furniture. I discovered with Nuvy that the "walking curriculum" is completely superfluous in my home environment, as my own lazy-susan coffee table, doorknobs, and staircase seem to fulfill all the functions perfectly. However, you can check out Montessori's walking curriculum here, and buy elements for your environment if you like them. A word in defense of orthodoxy, though, the walking curriculum is introduced in a very specific order, based on motor readiness, so if you're going to do it, please read up and do it right.

Of course, for me, babyproofing (um, baby-resistant-ing?) has been all the walking curriculum we have so far used. Walking is hard-wired and develops naturally for most children, so my walking curriculum is mostly defined by absence: an absence of apparatus to hold the child in a standing position. I don't have any exersaucers, jumpy doorway chairs, or other things that help babies who can't yet stand to do it before they're ready. I know. Them's fightin' words, but I say them only in the spirit of Montessori assistance to infancy. Please know you can let your child jump in the doorway with no lectures from me about his development. I'm so over that now.

Language development: Van is much "babblier" than Nuvy ever was. It seemed that all her noises were intended for communication with us, whereas Van's often seem to be just for his own entertainment. He does babble with about the same variety that she showed at this stage, just more generally. Check out the Stage 4 post from 2006 for specific expectations.

Cognitive development: Van is much more into toys than Nuvy was at this stage, so I'm able to see a lot more of the purposeful play that is discussed in the literature than I saw before with Nuvy. He does now pick up toys with the intention of playing with them, and he does love dumping things and removing things from containers in general. All the world is his drum these days, and he's invented a version of Simon Says, where we all take turns being "Simon", which he can maintain for about 15 minutes at a stretch.

Social development: As for mealtime, he is a champ with the weaning table! So far, Van sits happily at the table and eats until he's full, then fingerpaints with his food to show that he's done. I think I recall that we had a moment of this with Nuvy, before she mastered getting in and out of the little chair, so the jury's still out. He does eat in the high chair with the rest of the family when we're all eating--a mealtime adaptation that works well for us. I did get a lot of questions about implementing this with two children, but I think it may actually be easier with an older sibling. Nuvy likes to sit at the weaning table with Van (I just stick her booster chair under it, and she is able to sit there pretty comfortably), which seems to keep them both happy.

So, to Nuvy. I'm finally feeling qualified to write a toilet training post. Nuvy is 2 years and 9 months old now, and has been out of diapers completely for about a month. She does have rare accidents, and will wet the bed if we don't remind her to go at bedtime, but otherwise it's pretty painless.

I used to tell parents at our school that the easiest way to toilet train was "cold turkey" that is, no pull-ups. I still stand by that--for school-- but I did modify it a little for our home. We actually went to pull-ups long before we started training--immediately when she became able to take off her own clothes (for several reasons, I don't consider pull-ups to be an effective toilet training tool--even the feel-wet kind--but they are great when used in their natural capacity as a diaper). I'll share our training experience with you, in case you're interested.

Phase one: Naked Nuvy, was introduced as soon as she started announcing that elimination events were in progress. ("I'm making peepee/caca"). We first bought four portable baby potties (they are about 4 bucks at Ikea). The Ikea training toilet is HANDS DOWN the best toilet training product on the market, in my opinion. It costs next to nothing and is just one piece of plastic with no cracks or lift-out pieces to wash. You just run the whole thing under water to wash it. We placed a potty in each bathroom, one in the living room, an done in the kitchen. Then we took a deep breath and took off her pants and diaper.

I tried not to make a "thing" of it, just showed her to the toilet each time anything happened. With nothing on her bottom, the consequences of making peepee/caca were immediately obvious to her, which I think was a big help. It was summer and, admittedly, this is easier done outdoors, but we did our share of mopping.

So we let this go on for a couple of weeks without trying underwear, until she had achieved reliable success. We did it only at home, didn't even try to take her out of the house without a diaper.

Phase 2: Under-Wonder. Underwear proved to be a bigger hurdle for us than I had anticipated. I think it reminded her of her diaper, and caused some initial sensory confusion. However, it only took a couple of days for her to get the hang of it. At this point, I considered her "housebroken". Still didn't even try leaving the house without diapers.

Phase 3: Under and Out. Once we had good conditioning to underwear at home, I put one of the Ikea toilets in the back of our car, and started taking her out. I asked her about every half our if she needed the toilet, and if she said yes, I pulled over immediately, set her down on the toilet in the back of the car, and took care of business. So far, we have never had a traveling accident with this method.

So now she is fully a Big Girl. She is able to manage even a standard size toilet these days without trouble, and is able to detect "need" in plenty of time to, say, come in from outside to use the toilet, or to ascend a couple of levels of stairs to get to the bathroom. The whole process took about two months for complete training, and while I know there are many faster methods, I like that she did it all by herself. I encountered no resistance or frustration from her, I had only to show her the toilet and remind her to use it. At every phase, Nuvy was almost immediately successful, I think because she was ready for success. It all felt very natural and child-driven, and very "Montessori".

I hear boys are harder.


My Child's Diary said...

Wow, I am so glad you are back!
I've wanted to write you a few times to ask you keep writing here, so it was such a wonderful surprise to find your post in my reader. Thank you so much! Your children are beautiful!

M. T. said...

I hope you don't mind a question from a total stranger! :)
I found your blog a year or more ago and it was so helpful to me.
I also am glad you wrote a new post! I have two girls, age 2y 7m and 9 mos -- close to your beautiful kids, I guess. I have worked in Primary and Toddler Montessori environments pre-children and am raising my kids "Montessori." People think I'm crazy with all the "work" and the freedom and talking to them so much, the early toilet training and no bouncers, etc.
Discipline is another thing -- I find many people in my life think Montessori people are too gentle and "pushovers" I am trying so hard to never use corporal punishment, offer choices, redirect and respect the girls developmental needs . . . But I have a VERY strong willed daughter and many in-laws who tell me it is impossible to raise a well-disciplined child without spankings, authoritarian commands, etc. On some bad days with my toddler i doubt myself and wonder if she WILL walk all over me. :)
I KNOW this is not true, but I was wondering if you could write a post about discipline, esp. in the 2 + year old stage ("oppositional"?) or maybe direct me to some really concrete help in this area. :)
Thank you so much!

Kate said...

Yea, so glad to hear from you again! Van and Sophie are so close in all this it's incredibly helpful to read about his development after reading all about Nuvy's...Keep it coming.

Melissa said...

Testdriver-- help a girl out! To begin, I'm an ex-Primary teacher who is doing the SAHM thing. We are toileting our 20 1/2 month old, at his insistance, but we have some hurdles (one of them being that there is no easily accessible Ikea from whence to purchase this wonder-toilet!)

He started peeing every time the toilet was offered at 18 months. We never used a "baby" potty-- I have some strong-ish feelings about them b/c they are not "real"-- and my husband refuses to replace our powder-room toilet with a toddler-sized one, so hurdle #1 is that he can't get up there alone. Hurdle #2 is that, at 20 months, he can't take his own clothes off. Hurdle #3-- "Mama, peepee coming!" means that yes, literally, peepee is coming. That's about the most warning we get.

And yet, I can take him out in the world in underwear for 2 hours at a time or more with no accidents. We try to offer the potty every 2 hours or less at home, but he isn't able to forewarn us. The exception is pooping-- which he seems to have mastered rather completely.

What can we do to help him learn to undress and get up on the potty alone? Do I really have to buy a baby potty? Oh, and did I mention I'm 8 1/2 months pregnant? What do I do with all this?! Help!

Testdriver said...

I hate to do it to you Melissa, but I would really get either a potty stool or a baby potty for your son. My personal choice would be the baby potty at his age, for safety reasons, and to facilitate his independent undressing.

Regarding its being "real", I don't know, I was able to get past that by thinking about things in the Montessori classroom that are child-size adaptations, such as the water source, the handwashing station and the dishwashing station. They are "real" in that the child is able to perform the functional activity, but are adapted in that they are not hooked up to the plumbing...

Testdriver said...

More potty stuff for you, Melissa--

I dug around a little, and 20 months for boys seems to be, statistically speaking, early in the voluntary motor development of the urinary sphincter. It stands to reason that he would have some control, but not early warning capability. I know that EC folks rely on observation of involuntary behavioral cues to avoid accidents at this time and before, but it requires a level of monitoring that might be difficult given the characteristic mobility of the child at this stage.

So, you might want to start taking him to the toilet every hour, rather than every two, so that he can get some practice with releasing that muscle on a partially-full bladder. That way, he is able to have more "voluntary" control, since the pressure from the bladder is not causing as immediate a need. Good luck, and let me know how he progresses--and how it goes with the new one!

(you know to expect potty regression after the second one is born, right?)

BF said...

Our son was potty-trained right at two, including nighttime - not sure how we got lucky with that part! We did follow the Montessori approach, and had the little potty around from about 18 months on. We only bought one and just took it with us from room to room. I also think the small potty is important - they need to be independent and feel confident, and the adult toilet is just too big.

One thing that really helped with the process was cloth diapers. I started having him hang out at home sans diaper covers, so that we had some protection from wetness, but it was still very clear to him what was happening, physically. I chose the timing for him based on what I'd seen in a Montessori Toddler environment, and was really happy with it. We'd also do naked time a lot.

Our son is not especially precocious, but potty training was quick and easy. I truly don't believe this is a girl/boy issue, I think it's all about timing and approach.

Melissa said...

One more question-- who, I ask you, is going to keep the greyhound from sampling the unsupervised baby potty in the living room?

All haha's aside-- thanks so much for the info. We have not yet gotten the little potty, although if he wins his battle he will get a tiny toilet installed in place of the big one "daddy-- get yittle toy-yet fwom gym"-- apparently all he does while I swim is use their child-sized toilet again and again.

I'm requiring more of him in terms of dressing and undressing-- and he can do it if he chooses. We have hit a great wall of accidents, just before the new baby's advent. When I used to have potty learners in the classroom, I remember a few good weeks followed by some very, very bad ones-- then-- presto!-- an independent toileter. So his timing is just about right to be toilet trainned just around the time his brother arrives. So that he can forget it all and go back to square one. Yippee.