Potty Training and Potty Learning

Potty LearningMany have asked about how my wife and I potty trained both of kids around age two. I have been hesitant to offer a full account of what we did because I think it misses the point: The goal is not and cannot be to have your child use the potty on a deadline. A child must learn to use the potty when they are ready to, and it must be THEIR idea, not yours. You cannot have an agenda with regard to learning to use the potty, else it will backfire and become a power struggle between you and your child (which you will lose), rather than a source of pride for them.

What we did is a hybrid of RIE principles and Elimination Communication (EC). Generally I’m a huge advocate of RIE and not a fan of EC because EC misses the point — a parent should spend their time and energy connecting with their child’s mind, not their bowel movements. But many of the techniques are taken from EC, so I want to give proper credit. Continue reading

Should We Avoid Teaching Children About Ownership?

buildcastleOne of the reasons I am drawn to Magda Gerber’s RIE parent/infant philosophy is that it does not advocate forcing children to share. Why? Because sharing by it’s very nature is a voluntary act — to force a child to “share” is much closer to an act of theft than it is an act of generosity (for further discussion, see my article “Sharing Is Not A Virtue“).

But on a deeper level Gerber understood, at least implicitly, Ayn Rand’s idea that knowledge is hierarchical. That means certain concepts are dependent on other, more basic concepts, and one cannot grasp or be expected to grasp an idea that relies on more basic, fundamental knowledge. For example, you cannot grasp the concept of “furniture” without first identifying a few different kinds of furniture (that you can view here), such as tables, chairs, book cases; you cannot understand multiplication until you grasp addition; etc. Continue reading

Let Your Child Rewind

rewindI had just driven home my son (at the time a little under two years old) and, after getting him out of the car in a bit of a hurry, I grabbed the handful of mail on my dashboard and headed for the house. But I accidentally dropped the mail next to the rear tire of the car. I picked it up started to walk toward the house, signaling or my son to follow. He protested and insisted that he should be the one to carry the mail. Continue reading

Don’t Make Your Kid Be An Example

“You’re older, you need to set an example for the younger kids.” At a preschool I was observing recently, this was the reason given to a child so he would comply with a teacher’s request. This idea of being an example was repeated a number of different times to several older children in a class consisting of three to five year olds. I’ve also heard this from parents on the playground in an attempt to get an older sibling to “behave.”

It may sound like a perfectly valid reason — at least to the teacher or parent. After all, younger kids look up to older children and often try to copy or mimic their behavior. Keep the older ones “in line” and the rest will follow, right? But what message are we really sending when we use this approach in order to gain a child’s compliance? Continue reading