Of all the parenting advice rackets in the world, the potty training silver bullet racket might be the most lucrative of them all (sorry, sleep training racket). Potty training taps into such a bottomless parenting angst that even Elmo is in on the action. There’s one place in the world, however, where parents will never spend one stinking cent on toilet training advice books, DVDs, or associated ephemera, because their kids have it down by 9 months old. That magical land? Vietnam.
Diapers are used very rarely in Vietnam. From birth, Vietnamese mothers pay very close attention to their kids natural elimination process and whistle every time the little one lets loose a golden stream — a far cry from the shouts of terror this usually elicits in the typical American nursery. There are no pee pee teepees in the SRV.
Within time, the whistling becomes associated with elimination. Mothers can even begin to time it so that the whistle comes before the act and soon enough, by 9 months in most cases, the whistle elicits the appropriate potty response. By 24 months the kids can manage it all on their own.
Try going diaper free and doing the whistle thing at the next playgroup and see how quickly you’re asked to GTFO.
This act might raise eyebrows in the West, but there’s evidence that the practice could actually be beneficial for the children. Some studies suggest that the Vietnamese method actually strengthens children’s bladders earlier, meaning they can better control the process.
Will this ever catch on in the U.S.? Here’s the thing: The Vietnamese method requires an intense level of attentiveness from the individual doing the training. The parents must keep very careful watch on elimination patterns and body language, meaning they have to be present constantly. Try going diaper free and doing the whistle thing at the next playgroup and see how quickly you’re asked to GTFO.
So until our cultural mores change, you’ll just have to shell out your hard-earned money to a red-furred potty monster and hope for the best. Looks like the only one whistling here is Elmo, all the way to the bank.