Toilet Training in Aotearoa New Zealand: The Use of Critical, Quality and Purchased Time

Rita Mary Robinson


The socialization of a child into society’s ways of managing body wastes is an important life skill which can impact the physical and mental health of the child and the public health of the child’s community. Literature in this area has predominantly focused on how to toilet train, the connection between toilet training methods and ongoing incontinence issues, and the risk of cross contamination in child care facilities. It is our argument, however, that the discursive practices of ‘in the moment time’ of toilet training are under considered. Using a Foucauldian discourse analysis drawing on texts accessible within Aoteraroa New Zealand. We located three constructions of toilet training time with children, purchasing time, quality time and critical time. We propose that these constructions are contested, with multiple requirements produced from medical, aesthetic and moral discourses. Our findings showcase the covert underpinning of medical neurodevelopmental knowledge to the justification for aesthetic and moral discourses, as well as locating the opposing subjectivities of a committed mother and a non-committed mother. This analysis opens space to think otherwise about the assumptions underpinning the task of toilet training, how mothers are required or choose to use their ‘in the moment time’ during this task.


Toilet training, time, mother, child, Foucault

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