Behavioral Book Review: Toilet Learning

“Bowel and bladder training has become the most obviously disturbing item of child training in wide circles of our society” -Erik Erikson.


Recently, a colleague recommended to me a book called Toilet Learning by Alison Mack. Anytime a parent or doctor recommends a book, I try to read it first and then I “field test” it by recommending it to other families and having them report their reviews back to me. Toilet Learning was very popular among the families that read it and I liked it a lot too.

The book is divided into two parts: Part one is for parents and gives a nice analysis of the history of toilet training. There is a thoughtful discussion of current methods and misconceptions. She writes well about the different stages and the potential pitfalls at each stage. Mack says there are three stages in preparation of toilet training: “has wet,” “is wetting,” and “will wet.” When the child can let the parent know in advance of a bowel movement, then the parent can begin toilet training (what is represented in part 2 of the book).

Part two of the book is illustrated and meant for the parents to narrate with their child. Reflecting the book’s 1978 copyright, the illustrated mothers and fathers have bell-bottoms, afros, and lots and lots of mustaches. To me, it was hilarious! I think this book is currently out of print but can be found online.

I would recommend this book to any family with a ~2-3 year old child who has questions regarding toilet training. I personally have taken a few lines out of the book for my own discussion with families and found the information very helpful.

What books on this subject have you liked?

-Daniel Weissbluth

Weissbluth Pediatrics


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