Reviewed by Kathy Empen on July 03, 2012


T.Berry Brazelton, MD Developmental Pediatrician

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Video Transcript

Narrator: What do you recommend is the best way to toilet train?

T. Berry Brazelton Pediatrician: The best for different parts of the world is very different. In most of the world, I've done cross cultural work, mothers carry their babies and when they feel something coming on and they'll hold them out and they'll do it. So most of the world carries their babies and teaches them how to train themselves in the first year. Our adaptation, and it's an adaptation is to the way we have to live which is not carrying our children, but being away from them a lot of the day and so forth. So, if we're going to make that adaptation then we have to pay attention to what it means to a child, to get toilet trained. You know what it means, they feel it coming on, hang onto it, get where we tell 'em to go, sit down, do it, then watch it disappear the rest of their lives. They never see it again. And it's part of their bodies and we're asking them to give that up without a murmur. How can we do that? And we had a big toilet here at the children's museum, big enough for big kids to crawl in, go through and find out where their BM's had gone for all of their lives. They were 12 and 13 before they stopped lining up to go through that toilet. Everybody wonders, where's my BM gone? So if we're going to ask them, that kind of adjustment, we have to let them do it by themselves. Step, by step, by step. And my way of doing it is to offer these steps at maybe the age of two when they can understand being like everybody else, putting things where they belong, imitation, and let the child pick up on it. First, when they do something sit them on their toilet and you sit on yours and say, you can sit on yours and I'll sit on mine. That's the first step. The second step is to take their BM's to the potty, drop it under them. Let them see that's what you're after but don't flush it away yet. And the third step, when they are ready, and this may be a month or two later is to take their pants off and let them run around bare. And put the potty out in the yard with them or in the play room and let them go themselves. Now if they aren't ready, they'll go on the floor. Be careful. But at the point where they will go by themselves they are so proud. Then the fourth step, is to put them in pants they can pull up or whatever and go themselves. And then you say. What about the difference between boys and girls? And yeah, big difference. A little girl might have to sit on the potty and look down and see how she does it and love it. A little boy might have to learn like his daddy or somebody like him and stand up and squirt into the potty or the wall or what ever. But you know to make it more of the child's achievement and less ours is my goal. And yet society is pushing parents like everything today to get them trained early. So, a parent has to be strong and say look, I'm going to wait until my child is ready.

Narrator: How long does the BM have to sit in the toilet?

T. Berry Brazelton Pediatrician: Until the child loses interest. It doesn't take long. They just want to see it there and see where it is. Maybe even touch it.


T. Berry Brazelton Pediatrician: I thought so. See you can't take this can you? You weren't allowed to touch your BM I'll bet. See well there we are. And then once they've lost interest, it's time to go.