Monday, January 31, 2011

Potty "Training"

I get so frustrated when I hear of a parent letting their kid(s) run the show. I know, I have a strong-willed child (or two) and sometimes, it's easier to let her think she's getting what she wants, but it's usually about fairly insignificant things....what she wears, for example. What I'm really talking about is when parents say things like "My kid is 3 and has no interest in the potty so we haven't tried potty training".

Well, HAVE potty trained use diapers.

Now, if you know me, you're thinking...hey...your kids weren't exactly early potty learners. Hugh's sensory processing issues created unique challenges. Meg...well, she's a unique challenge all on her own. But my intentions were good. I truly tried. And if I could do things over again, there are definitely things I'd do differently.

Like, "EC". It means "elimination communication". Or, a fancy way to say...teaching your child about elimination from day one, the same way our great-grandparents would have, and the same way much of the world still does. Babies don't like to be wet or dirty; it's not something they knew about before birth. It's kinda scary to them to suddenly have their body doing these things. They give us cues that they need to, or are, eliminating. Many parents learn these cues ("oh, he always makes that face before he poops"), but they don't do anything about it. If you know your child is about to poop, why not put them on a potty or over a bowl? Even if baby is only a few weeks old? Doesn't that make sense? Why spend the money on the diaper that just gets thrown away (in most cases). Doesn't it seem easier to hold baby on a potty then to change a stinky, messy, diaper?

People say that babies have no control over their bladders/bowel. But others say that they do, and even a young baby (6 months) who has been taught since birth that pee goes in a potty, will learn to "hold it" until given the chance to use the potty.

Others say that there's no point in potty training until the child is mobile and can deal with their clothes themselves. That same parent is probably helping their child get dressed in the morning, so what's different about after a potty trip? A child is mobile once they can crawl, and if you teach signing, they can be making the sign for potty pretty young. And, if you're already tuned into their signals, you can get them to the potty yourself. Doesn't it seem easier to pick up a baby and take them to the potty, then to pick up a stinky, leaking, crying, kicking baby and try to change them?

EC is one of the things I really wish I had given a try. It makes teach your baby from day one about other things, why not about where we eventually want them to always put their pee? It's not like we allow hitting and biting until the day they start school and THEN suddenly say "oh, that's not acceptable now, you must change your behaviour instantly, and not have any accidental bitings".

But Tracy, you child is 28 months old and shows no interest in the potty, why should I potty train her now? I understand! With my kids, I had the notion that it was easier to change diapers than to clean the carpets. I often hear "my kid is toilet-trained and has only 2 accidents a day!". Well, I don't think that's something to brag about (unless your child is 12 months old).

A lot of parents also find that "the terrible twos" don't happen...but then the child turns 3 and is suddenly someone else. You've missed the window of opportunity when the child still wants to please momma and is more co-operative...even if she doesn't show any interest in the potty. And often, how do you show interest in something that you've never been shown that you should show interest in?

I often hear "My son always hides behind the couch when he needs to poop! It's so cute!"....that same mom, when the kid is 3, 3 1/2, saying "I can't get him to poop on the potty, he'll only poop behind the couch". Well, sorry to say, but you taught him that it was acceptable.

I hadn't heard, formally, of EC until Meg (child #3, and last) was almost 6 months old. I had heard previously that if you put a baby on a (cold) potty, they will usually pee...and I did do this with Lucy at times. I had also read about "old fashioned" potty training, how our grandparents trained our parents to be diaper-free by 12 months, and the debate about whether it's the parent that's trained or the child that's trained. But who cares---being diaper free is a good thing in all aspects!

When Meg was around 4 months I joined a Yahoo Group "Slightly Crunchy Attachment Parenting". One member was EmiLy, who owns Who knew there was a whole "industry" around NOT using diapers? LOL. She's a great lady, very hard working, and awesome at promoting EC. It's a great place to start if you want to learn more. As I said, it's one thing I wish I had known about before having kids. I don't know to what extent I would have done it, but gosh, any time not using diapers is great!

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