Potty Training: Insights from Around the World
Potty training is a major milestone in a child's development and is one of the first steps towards their independence. While the process of potty training is universal, the methods and practices can differ greatly around the world. Let's take a look at how different cultures approach potty training.
In many Western cultures, the process of potty training usually begins around the age of two, with parents using a variety of methods such as reward systems, positive reinforcement and even the use of potty-training rewards charts. Parents may start by introducing a child to a potty chair or toilet seat adapter and encouraging them to use it.
Let's have a look at different potty training practices in some specific countries:
In China, parents start potty training their babies much earlier, typically around six months old. This is achieved through a method called "elimination communication", which involves paying close attention to the baby's body language and vocal cues to anticipate when they need to use the bathroom. Parents then hold the baby over a designated area, such as a toilet, while making a "sss" sound to encourage them to go.
This approach not only helps to strengthen the bond between parent and child, but also teaches the child self-control and discipline. In addition to this method, it's common in China to use "kaidangku", which are trousers with a split crotch. This design allows children to squat and use the bathroom without needing to remove their clothing, making it more convenient for both the child and parent.
It's important to note that while some urban families may choose to adopt Western-style practices, many traditional methods are still widely used in rural areas and by older generations.
In many African countries, potty training also begins at a very young age. In Namibia, parents traditionally rely on their baby's signals and their own physical proximity to the child to identify when the baby 'needs to go'. Subsequently, the baby is picked up and supported while they wee or poo. Often, corn husks, or even parents' hands, are used in place of wipes. In some urban areas, disposable nappies and Western-style potties are becoming more common, but traditional practices still exist.
In Japan, potty training is called "Oshikko training" and is often started at around six months of age. Parents may make a "shh" sound, which is similar to the sound of running water, to help their child relax and feel comfortable using the toilet.
Certain Inuit communities residing in Greenland (but also in other Arctic regions including Alaska, Canada and Russia) have modified their traditional baby carriers, known as amauti, to include a grassy patch for toilet training purposes. The grassy patch serves as a substitute for a commercial nappy. Additionally, parents have established specific times, such as upon waking up, before and after meals and before bedtime, for their babies to 'go'.
In Israel, potty training often takes place in group settings, such as at a nursery. Children are seated on potties together, which can lead to a positive outcome as they tend to follow through with using the bathroom. This group approach also creates an atmosphere of encouragement and support, with children praising each other's efforts and feeling inspired by their peers to use the potty as well. Overall, this approach can make potty training a more enjoyable and social experience for children.
In Germany, potty training is typically approached similarly to other Western countries. Most parents begin the process when their child is around 2-3 years old. However, there is a growing trend towards "Elimination Communication", which involves closely observing the child's behaviour to determine when they need to use the potty, rather than relying on a set schedule.
In addition, many German parents opt for cloth nappies, instead of disposable ones, which can make the transition to potty training easier. As German kindergartens and preschools often require that children be fully potty trained before attending, children are usually potty trained before the age of 3. This approach can help ensure a smoother and more successful transition for children as they begin their formal education.
In Sweden, public daycare is offered with tax subsidies and many parents choose to enrol their children at around one year of age. As a result, potty training is often tackled in the company of peers as part of the childcare experience. Daycares typically provide easy access to potty chairs and may use reward charts to motivate children in their progress. This approach can create a friendly and supportive atmosphere, with children encouraged by their peers to master the art of potty training.
While daycare providers play an important role in helping children reach this milestone, parents also reinforce positive potty training practices at home. The combined efforts of both daycare and parents help ensure a consistent and supportive environment for children as they learn this important skill. Ultimately, potty training in Swedish daycare is a team effort between parents and daycare providers, all working together towards the common goal of helping children achieve success and independence.
While every country has their own traditions and culture, there are some similarities when it comes to potty training around the world. If you're interested in learning more about how potty training is approached in different parts of the world, we highly recommend watching the documentary "Babies" on Netflix, which follows the lives of four babies in different countries. It's an eye-opening and heartwarming look at the universal experience of parenting, and how different cultures navigate the challenges of raising children.
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