I heard a spot on National Public Radio the other day about how multi national paper companies are trying to make an inroad into the Chinese market selling disposable diapers. With close to a billion Chinese on this planet, it would appear that this is a market just waiting to, how shall we say, be saturated.
Much to corporate America’s chagrin, there appears to be considerable cultural resistance to this move, not on the part of the young parents, who view disposables as a new status symbol, but by the Chinese grandmothers, who entrusted with the bulk of child care, prefer to toilet train infants at an early age as it encourages self confidence and other characteristics beneficial to society as a whole. Apparently the Chinese Gen-Xers feel it is more chic for their babies to walk around with a fresh load of shit in their pants, while grandma feels it’s disgusting.
The story described how Chinese grand mothers begin toilet training at an extremely early age; sometimes as early as one month. They do so by ringing a bell every time the child soils himself and then gradually hold them over a toilet and ring the bell to encourage like behavior. Sounds like classic Pavlovian conditioning to me. With this simple consistent technique, most Chinese babies achieve full control of bodily functions within their first year.
The Grannies seem to be winning the cultural battle going on between the ways of tradition versus American pop, or is it poop, culture. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Christianity hasn’t gained much of a foothold in China. For whenever a young Chinese hears church bells, they’re not running off to worship, but trying to find a toilet, and quick!