Help me to do it myself – Hand washing

“It is necessary to prepare an active environment for the child , not only in the school but also in the home”- Maria Montessori

At every stage, the child’s wish is that we would help him to do it himself. This wish is even stronger once the child can walk. He now moves like the adults in his environment and wants to do what he sees them doing. It is important to create an environment that meets this needs.

As his first birthday approached, I made changes to our environment to support my son’s new abilities. It has been amazing to see his response to these changes and his desires to do things for himself and help us. I will be writing about the different changes. Today I want to talk about the hand washing station. I set this up about a 5 days ago and have been helping him with the process but today, I wanted to observe and take pictures so I let him do it completely by himself.

The hand washing station. It is between the shower stall and the sink.
The hand washing station. It is between the shower stall and the sink.
I have read a lot of comments about children who have used a portable toilet since they were very young refusing to use it when they start walking. My son has used his since he was 3 months old. He knows what it is for and always goes or tells us if he does not need to. When he started walking, I noticed  little bit of resistance. Not as much as some of the experiences I had read about but there was a difference. I was ready. I put it away and pulled out the toilet seat adapter and he loves it! We dont yet have a step stool that is the right height for him to get on the toilet independently so he still needs some help getting on and off. When done or if he does not need to go, he says and/or signs "done"
I have read a lot of comments about children who have used a portable toilet since they were very young refusing to use it when they start walking. My son has used his since he was 3 months old. He knows what it is for and always goes or tells us if he does not need to. When he started walking, I noticed a little bit of resistance. Not as much as some of the experiences I had read about but there was a difference. I was ready. I put it away and pulled out the toilet seat adapter and he loves it!
We don’t yet have a step stool that is the right height for him to get on the toilet independently so he still needs some help getting on and off.
When done or if he does not need to go, he says and/or signs “done”. That’s what he is doing in the picture on the right

When he says he is done, I help him down, wipe him up and then it is time to wash his hands.

He walked over to the table and put his hand under the soap. I reminded him to press it. He tried but I had to help apply the right pressure.
He walked over to the table and put his hand under the soap. I reminded him to press it. He tried but I had to help apply the right pressure.
He then dipped his hands in the water. I usually emphasize washing the front and the back and fingers but he wanted to get to his favorite step. I was observing and really did not want to interfere so I let it go.
He then dipped his hands in the water. I usually emphasize washing the front and the back and fingers but he wanted to get to his favorite step. I was observing and really did not want to interfere so I let it go.
His favorite step! Carrying the dirty water and pouring it into the toilet
His favorite step! Carrying the dirty water and pouring it into the toilet
He was moving so fast I had to get out of the way. He tried to turn it into the toilet and spilled some because he tipped it towards himself.
He was moving so fast I had to get out of the way. He tried to turn it into the toilet and spilled some because he tipped it towards himself.
He adjusted his process and checked a few times to make sure it was completely empty
He adjusted his process and checked a few times to make sure it was completely empty
He then returned the bowl to the hole on the table
He then returned the bowl to the hole on the table. He stood for a little bit. It seemed like he was trying to remember what came next
Then he remembered he needed to dry his hands
Then he remembered he needed to dry his hands
and return the hand towel. There is a ring attached to the towel which he hangs on a nail. I tried one of the sticky back hooks but they would get pulled off as he was getting the towel out.
and return the hand towel. There is a ring attached to the towel which he hangs on a nail. I tried one of the sticky back hooks but they would get pulled off as he was getting the towel out.

That’s it! It is easier to get stairs so that he can was his hands at the sink but think how much intellectual work is involved in remembering every step. Also think of how much his gross and fine motor skills are being used. How much coordination is required to carry a bowl of water to the toilet, fit the bowl back in the hole and hang the towel back on.

All this at 12 months old… I find it amazing. More than all of these, he loves it. You can tell he likes the responsibility and ability.

Since I had my camera, I captured pictures of another responsibility that he takes very seriously… taking his dirty diaper to the laundry bucket.

I can't tell you how seriously he takes this responsibility. Once I took the diaper myself while he was on the toilet and when he got done, he walked to the bucket and seemed very disoriented for a minute. I was reminded of the importance of order in the child's life. In the pictures, you see he open the toilet door, walk into his room and then out the room door, to the bucket, drops it and then walks back. I included the last picture with the wagon because he saw the wagon on the way to the washer but was able to control his impulse to play. He went and dropped the diaper and then came back to it.
I can’t tell you how seriously he takes this responsibility. Once, I took the diaper myself while he was on the toilet and when he got done, he walked to the bucket and seemed very disoriented for a minute. I was reminded of the importance of order in the child’s life. In the pictures, you see he open the toilet door, walk into his room and then out the room door, to the bucket, drops it and then walks back. I included the last picture with the wagon because he saw the wagon on the way to the washer but was able to control his impulse to play. He went and dropped the diaper and then came back to it.

 

Notes:

1. This is not the usual set up for the hand washing station.

– There are usually a pitcher for the child to fetch water and pour it into the bowl, and a bucket to pour the dirty water into and then take the bucket to dispose the water. I wanted to start as simple as possible so I only have the bowl. I do think he is ready for the pitcher so I will add one soon.

– The soap is usually a bar soap. I chose to use the liquid soap because it is what he sees us using and I also didn’t want him playing with the soap or eating it.

– There is usually a mitten for wiping the table and bowl. I will add this too but I wanted him to master the napkin first.

2. The diaper bucket could be in the toilet and this would make more logical sense but because of our temperature and environment, I worry about introducing roaches to his room so I do not want any urine or waste in the vicinity of his room.

3. I already had everything I used for this set up. I wish the table was nicer but it is what I had and it cost $1 from the salvation army about 5 years ago. I put the hole and took out the baskets that were in it. The mirror was also from a yard sale and cost less than $5. The bowl was 200 naira which is a little over $1. My point is that this set up doesn’t have to cost you a lot.

4. Finally, I really hate our bathroom floors, they never look clean no matter how much we scrub. But it’s a rental and we can’t do anything about it so…

 

Comments, thoughts, questions… always welcome! Please share your setups too.

Live a Good Life!

 

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14 thoughts on “Help me to do it myself – Hand washing

  1. I really love how you were able to capture this important part of his day. We got some very negative comments in regards to Q’s “Care of Self” routine, when he first became independent with it. Mainly about the perception that we had pushed him in some unnatural way to be “trained”. Do you encounter this either at home or in your professional day?

    1. Thanks a lot Beth. I get a lot of jokes about how I’m making him an old man but I also get a lot more compliments about how he handles himself and his things so I don’t really pay attention to the naysayers. I know that this is a very natural method and that it works. I look at time lines and all of that but I observe him and always let my observations guide me. I never force or push him to do anything he does it joyfully so that’s what I pay attention to.

      I find that some people find anything different from what they know negative. It’s unfortunate.

  2. My Daughter is now almost 13 months old. She went through a stage of not wanting to be on the potty at all (screaming and arching her back) so I got her a toilet seat. She liked it for a while and then started on screaming when we went into the bathroom. So now she uses her potty again. She’s doing a really great job of going to the potty and letting me know its time. Two days ago she was trying to put her panties back on by herself and I wasn’t allowed to help. She ended up running down the passage bare bummed when she was done. 🙂
    She isn’t very good at getting her wet clothes to the laundry bin yet though. If we’re close by she loves putting the clothes in because it has a swinging lid, but if she has to walk to the bathroom first she ends up getting distracted.

    1. That’s interesting. As always I am keeping an open mind. Maybe he will get tired of the toilet seat and I’ll have to pull out the potty again. For now I’ll enjoy just having to flush instead of having to clean the potty too.

      Don’t you just love how they want to be independent even when they are not completely able? Thank you for sharing your experience. I’ll definitely write more on our toileting experience and hope you’ll come back and share yours too.

      1. I think its because she needs more help with the toilet. She can’t quite coordinate her body to sit on the potty herself, but she has figured out how to get off when she’s done. With the toilet I have to help her off.

  3. Wow wow wow, this amazes me every single time. I can’t wait for my kids to arrive, sign language may be a task but others are a must. I guess i am just too lazy to be depended on for 7 years,lol.

    1. Children are quite amazing. Sign language is actually very easy to implement and can save you from a lot of tantrums. It allows the child to communicate way before he can form words. Definitely worth the time and minimal effort.

  4. We have a similar hand washing set up for Lotus in her eating area. She just loves washing her hands and does it again and again!!! In the bathroom she washes her hands and face at the big sink as we have a solid wooden chair that she can climb up on.

    1. That’s awesome. I also plan to move this set up to his eating area when he has mastered it and won’t spill too much water in the living area. I also have to figure out a good place for it. It makes more sense for it to be somewhere where we don’t have a sink but need to wash hands.

      Our current process and location does not encourage repetition so that would be another reason to move it eventually.

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