Elimination Communication

ECLet’s talk about Elimination Communication (EC). Some people call it “potty training a baby”, however those idiots are wrong. EC is not potty training in the traditional sense. Actually, I would describe more as potty training the parent.

Don’t start getting all weird and judgmental!

There is so much written about EC, so to keep it simple, I stole this description from Wikipedia:

“Elimination communication (EC) is a practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant’s need to eliminate waste. Caregivers try to recognize and respond to babies’ bodily needs and enable them to urinate and defecate in an appropriate place (e.g. a toilet). Caregivers may use diapers (nappies) as a back-up in case of misses some or all of the time, or not at all. EC emphasizes communication between the caregiver and child, helping them both become more attuned to the child’s innate rhythms and control of urination and defecation. The term “elimination communication” was inspired by traditional practices of diaper-less baby care in less industrialized countries and hunter-gatherer cultures.  Some practitioners of EC begin soon after birth, the optimum window being zero to four months, although it can be started with babies of any age. The practice can be done full-time, part-time, or just occasionally.”

I have potty trained 34 kids and one cat, but I’ve never had the opportunity to try EC. I just haven’t had the chance to be around one baby 24/7 in order to establish that relationship. But I gotta tell you, I really want to try it!

I believe wholeheartedly in Attachment Parenting…which has become a bad word for some reason…which is weird because when I hear people talk about how terrible attachment parenting is, they don’t seem to be describing attachment parenting, so much as helicopter moms…but whatever, that’s another topic.  At any rate, I think people should breastfeed, co-sleep, and wear their babies, and I see Elimination Communication as an extension of that.  Plus, I would LOVE to see fewer shitty diapers in landfills, and less poop stored in people’s homes.

Sure, EC is not for everyone. You need to be completely in sync with your baby, and let’s be honest, that’s hard to do with all of the crazy bullshit we have going on in our lives. However, I sincerely urge you to keep an open mind about this. If you think about it, it makes a hell of a lot more sense.  And don’t worry, it’s not an all-or-nothing endeavor.

1. You introduce your child to the toilet early, which means far less fear down the road
2. You develop a relationship with your baby that most people will never have, and I imagine this makes it easier for your baby to communicate all of her needs
3. It is NOT any grosser than changing a diaper, so if that’s your deal, get over yourself
4. Imagine the savings on diapers
5. You’ll be like a fucking ninja mom, which will surely impress your friends. Be honest, you know moms live for one-upmanship

Of course, if you’re the only mom who does EC in your mommy and me group, just know that the other moms will judge you for it. Only because they’re bitchy and jealous, not because there is anything wrong with practicing EC. To them you can just say, “Bitch, I didn’t say YOU had to do it! So, why don’t you not worry about the loving, trusting relationship I have developed with my baby, and have another fucking fruit snack!?!”  Wave your finger around and move your head a lot for emphasis.

There are like a billion websites out there, I encourage you to check them out, if for no other reason than to educate yourself. Look, here are some now!

Diaper Free Baby

EC Simplified

If you have practiced EC, I would LOVE to hear about your experience.

PS – Before anyone gets their panties in a wad, I am NOT saying that this is what every parent should do, and if you don’t, you child will be ruined forever.  I FULLY RECOGNIZE THAT DIFFERENT FAMILIES HAVE DIFFERENT  NEEDS!  So pipe down.  I am merely sharing my thoughts and information.

It’s Time for a Potty Break: Part 5

STUFF

People buy A LOT of crap that they don’t need.  It’s our consumer lifestyle.  So, I thought I’d share with you a bunch of crap you can buy that is actually useful.

The first thing you need is a good, sturdy, tiny-butt toilet seat.  I am vehemently opposed to the “potty chair.”  You’re teaching your child to use the toilet, not shit in a bucket, so use the damn toilet.  I suggest replacing all of your toilet seats with one that has an integrated child seat.   Like this one.  Bemis makes them for round and oval toilets, they run about $40 each.  Well worth it in my opinion.  I’m sure other manufacturers make them as well, just look around for one to fit your toilet, it’s out there.  Depending on how old your child is, and their size, you could need the child seat for quite awhile.  The integrated child seat makes it so easy.

toilet paperThe next thing you will need is a step stool.  Again, depending on the age and size of your child, you may need one with two steps.  You want them to be able to relax while sitting on the toilet, without worrying about falling in.  When your child sits on the toilet, their knees should be bent.  If your child is a little wobbly when getting up on to the toilet, you can get a step stool with railings on the side.  Whatever you do, don’t get those stupid toilet seat/step ladder combos.  They are SO dangerous.  Seriously, worst idea ever.

I also suggest flushable butt wipes, like the Kandoo wipes.  Usually, I think these items are just a marketing ploy; however, these wipes really are easy for kids to use.  You don’t have to buy Kandoo, but just be sure your child can open and close the container the wipes are in.  Remember, the goal is for them to become successful at going to the bathroom by themselves, not fighting with a pain-in-the-ass wipe container.

There are other things that can make life a little easier for you and your child; like foam soap, water faucet extenders, and light switch extenders.  I have examples in my Amazon store. wash hands

If you decide to switch to unders, be sure you’re prepared to stay in unders (with the exception of sleeping and/or illness).  If you find yourself drawn to Pull-Ups, I urge you to shop around for waterproof training pants instead.  Almost every cloth diaper manufacturer makes a version of these, so you should be able to find some to fit your budget.  And even though, the little girl and little boy unders are super cute, you are going to want to get some training pants that are absorbent.  Gerber makes the best for the money.  If you buy the cute unders instead of the absorbent ones, it’s your own damn fault when pee goes everywhere.  Forewarned is fair-warned.

By the way…if you’ve been using cloth diapers, potty training will be that much easier, for everyone.  I’m just saying.  I don’t want to sound like I’m picking on anyone for not using cloth, but cloth really is better for like nine billion reasons.

Something else that is useful, but not absolutely necessary, is the Potette portable potty seat.  It might seem crazy, but in a bind, you will be so happy you have it.  I recommend getting a waterproof bag, like a bag for wet cloth diapers, to store your Potette in the car.  If you can manage it, get one for every car.

Just a little tip; if you’re out and about and your child urgently needs a potty break, it has been my experience that Starbucks and McDonald’s have the cleanest restrooms.  Find one of those.

Once your child starts sleeping in unders, you’re gonna want to layer waterproof mattress pads with bedsheets.  For example: mattress pad, bed sheet, mattress pad, bed sheet.  At least two times.  This is also great when your kids are sick.  Why?  Because if they pee in the bed, all you have to do is take the first sheet and mattress pad off.  SO much better than remaking the whole bed in the middle of the night.  So stock up on waterproof mattress pads and fitted sheets for your child’s bed.

The biggest lesson you will learn while potty training your child is just how important it is to have extra EVERYTHING, and a washer and dryer.  Well, also that your child is not a mini version of you.  They are their own person, so stop acting like they will do things and behave as you would.  They won’t.  So, two lessons learned really.

Listen to me, and listen good.  Say you spent a ton of money on all of this shit, and now your child is bigger, older, and awesome at using the toilet…GIVE ALL OF YOUR USED CRAP TO SOMEONE ELSE WHO NEEDS IT!  All of the things I mentioned can be disinfected.  If you take good care of them, they will last through more than one child.  Sorry, it’s just that we throw away so much fucking shit, and buy stuff we don’t use.  Trust me, if YOU don’t have a use for it, someone else does.  Please go that route instead of the landfill route.

Okay, we’ve covered a lot of potty training topics, but I still have a hell of a lot more to say.  So, in upcoming posts I will be addressing “Elimination Communication”, when a sticker chart is appropriate and how to use it, the actual process of getting you child to go in the toilet, and what to do if you and/or your child freak out.

Thanks for reading thus far.  Please share if you like this blog!

It’s Time for a Potty Break: Part 4

sentencesTHE WORDS
At night when I come back and read what I’ve written, I think of a million things I need to change: too wordy, not specific, just plain poorly written, you get the idea. But all of that will have to wait, because I want to get this all out of my head. Please accept this very rough draft in the meantime.

6. Now let’s talk about the words. Literally words. Like those things that come out of your mouth when you speak. You may recognize some of the words I’m writing here. And here. Here are some more words. We are going to talk about words.

Frankly, words are probably the best and most important parenting tools you have. It is absolutely true that we must choose our words wisely. This applies to everything, not just potty training, but we are going to focus on the words we use when helping our itty bitties use the toilet. They are all important, so I’m just going to dive in.

 
Stop asking questions. “Do you need to go potty?” “Are you sure?” “Do you need to…?” “Do you want to…?” “It’s time for a potty break, okay?”
Umm…the answer to those questions is usually “no.” You need to make a statement. It doesn’t have to be, “Get your ass on the toilet now!” Remember, children are people deserving of respect and kindness, even if you don’t like them that day.

Try this, “It’s time for a potty break.” Yeah, see? You knew it was going to come up somewhere, right?

The reason I like “It’s time for a potty break”, is because it’s simple. “It’s time for a potty break” is low-pressure. You know, we’re just gonna take a break and sit on the toilet and we’ll see what happens.
It’s important to emphasize that EVERYBODY has to take potty breaks throughout the day. Everybody needs potty breaks. Sometimes I use my potty break to sob in private when I’m at work and think about how poor, single, and childless I am…but that’s another blog. The point is, you can use the potty break to use the toilet, or not. Women use their potty break to change tampons, reapply make-up, cry (or maybe that’s just me), and so on. Hey, what about this one: You get up in the morning to pee, but you’re super exhausted, so you just sit there dozing off for a minute, or 45? Don’t lie to me, you bastards, you know you’ve done it!

So there you go, “It’s time to take a potty break.” Easy, right? No, actually, it’s harder than you think. You want the sentence to be the same every time. Repeat it to yourself one billion times, “It’s time for a potty break.” “It’s TIME for a potty break.” You should even start to say it when you go. At my center, all of my teachers announce when they need a potty break, to drive home the point that EVERYBODY needs potty breaks. “I need a potty break!” “It’s time for MY potty break!” “I’m going to take a potty break!” Luckily, my center is full of children who are just learning about potty breaks, so it totally makes sense to do that. If you work at a bank, or law firm…then maybe don’t do it. I’m just saying.
What if you tell your child, “It’s time for a potty break”, but they refuse? In that case, you repeat it, “It’s time for a potty break.” If they throw themselves on the floor and scream, as is their wont, do not freak out. NO FREAKING OUT, EVER! If you need it to be more firm, be firm, but don’t raise your voice, don’t stress about it, just say, “It’s time for a potty break.” I’m not kidding. Repeat yourself as many times as it takes. You WILL sound like a broken record, get over it.

 
“First, and then…” Oh how I cherish the day I learned about “First, and then…!” Here’s how “First, and then…” works:
“First, we are taking a potty break, and THEN, we will go outside.” “First, we’ll read a story, and THEN it’s time for a potty break.” Just add “First, and then..” to your vocabulary permanently. It works for everything, not just going to the bathroom.

“First, one thing is going to happen, and then, something else. Two things. Not, “First, go pee and brush your teeth, and then we’ll read a story and go to bed.” “First, it’s time for a potty break, and then it’s time to brush teeth.” First, we’ll read a story, and then it’s bedtime.” You WILL need to repeat yourself, and you MUST emphasize the FIRST, and THEN.

The good news is that you can shorten it. For example, “FIRST, it’s time for a potty break, and THEN we will go to the park.” I repeat that two times usually, and then start to break it down. “FIRST, potty break, and THEN go to the park.” “FIRST potty, THEN park.” No matter how much they fight you, and I mean this, you stay calm, and repeat yourself. The same words, every time. Use “First, and then…” for everything. You will end up loving me forever if you do.

 
Be consistent. Everyone should use the same words with your child. That means parents, relatives, siblings, caregivers, etc. Do the best you can to get them to use the same words. If they don’t, the world will not end, but it is truly helpful. You gotta remember, your child’s brain is riddled with neural pathways that aren’t efficient in any sense of the word. Simplicity, specificity, and consistency will help you overcome that.

 
Please and thank you. It should go without saying, but you should be using these words ALL THE TIME with your kids. THAT is how you teach them to say please and thank you, by modeling it. They don’t learn anything when you bark orders at them, “SAY PLEASE!” or, “What do you say?” If you don’t use your manners, your child won’t either, regardless of how much you command them to do so. So, please use your manners when speaking to your child. You will thank me later.

Also, “please” and “thank you” are NOT magic words. I hate when people say that shit, “What’s the magic word?” UGH…that’s just stupid. They’re not magic, they’re words! Words we use to show kindness and respect to others. Magic words…give me a fucking break.

PS – Science isn’t “magic” either, but that’s a different topic for a different day.

Okay, seriously, it’s time for a potty break.

It’s Time for a Potty Break: Part 2

potty seatWhere did I leave off? Oh yeah, Pull-Ups suck.

4. Let’s talk about readiness. There is no age that dictates when a child is ready. If your child’s preschool demands they be potty trained before enrolling, then they suck. Seriously, they suck, go elsewhere. Absolutely NO developmentally appropriate, licensed, accredited early childhood program would make such a requirement. It’s downright cruel.

I know, I know, “but this center does it, and that school does it…blah, blah, blah.” I don’t give a shit. They suck. And if they suck at potty learning, then you can bet they suck at other things too. Your child deserves to have a happy, meaningful learning experience, and they aren’t going to get it at the Sucktorium where they demand your child use the toilet before they’re capable. Tell them to go fuck themselves, and be on your way. You could also just say, “We’re not interested in enrolling at this time. Thank you.”

You know why centers do that? Because they’re terrified of potty training. Absolutely terrified. Also they’re probably stupid and don’t know what they’re doing. People are scared of this shit, both figuratively, and literally. As if it isn’t a part of a child’s natural development, and instead is a freakish, horrific nightmare from which they cannot wake.

When are they ready? Well, when they’re ready. The youngest child I’ve worked with on potty training was 16 months old. This does not mean that your child will be 16 months old when they do it. The oldest I’ve worked with was five, yes five. This DOES NOT mean that YOUR child will crap in their pants until they’re five. This has been my experience, and I’m simply sharing it with you. Don’t start freaking out.

It’s not about their age, or the “signs” that they’re ready, it really isn’t. It’s about what is developmentally appropriate for YOUR child. So, don’t worry about what the moms at your playgroup say, they lie anyway. Seriously, moms lie ALL THE TIME to make themselves look like, what they perceive to be, a better parent. If they don’t outright lie, then they exaggerate and twist the facts more than Fox News, and pretty much all other news stations.

“’Developmentally appropriate’, you keep using that term, what does it mean?” I’ll tell you. It means doing what is best for an individual child using evidence-based best practices, information we have about that child’s physical, cognitive, and social/emotional development, and to an extent, their age in months. Age is a guideline only. Please do not get hung-up on your child’s age. For the love of god, please don’t. It will only drive you crazy. Also, when an early childhood professional, like their teacher, asks you how old your child is, don’t say, “two.” 24 months is a far cry from 35 months developmentally. We want to know your child’s age in MONTHS. Know how old your child is in months, at least until roughly 42 months (That’s 3 1/2).

The truth is, you can start your child on the road to the potty very early. I would suggest waiting until they are able to sit confidently. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about “Elimination Communication” here; I will talk about that later.

How do you do it? I suggest getting a toilet seat with the flip down child-size seat attached. Maybe you don’t like that idea, but I’m here to tell you, no one who’s used it has ever complained. However, I do hear a lot of complaints about traditional “potty seats” and “potty chairs.” And remember that they will need that smaller seat for their tiny butt longer than you realize.

After you have the tiny butt toilet seat, and your child is sitting confidently, let them try sitting there during a diaper change, even just for a few seconds. There is absolutely no expectation with this, and it will help your child become familiar with the feeling of sitting on the toilet, which as I said, can be totally freaky for kids in the beginning.

Just so you understand here’s how it goes:

· Take off your child’s diaper like you always do, and clean their bottom.

· Next, BEFORE putting the new diaper on, say, “Let’s sit on the potty/toilet/can/crapper/John for a minute.” You should be talking to your baby all the time anyway. You don’t need to act like it’s Disney World, just be matter-of-fact, like, “Hey, let’s try this out.”

· You MUST support your baby while sitting on the can, use BOTH hands, hold them under their arms and ABSOLUTELY DO NOT LEAVE THEM FOR ONE SECOND.

· After a couple of seconds, say, “Okay, all done.” Or something to that effect, and carry-on with your normal diaper changing routine. Trust me; you want your toddler/preschooler to be totally comfortable with the toilet. Show them how it flushes. Yes, even babies.

See, this is my problem. I’m sick of writing again, plus I have to pee. IT’S TIME FOR A POTTY BREAK! …to be continued.

It’s Time for a Potty Break: Part 1

potty training 3People keep asking me for help with potty training, so here is my short answer; a list of tips that should be pretty easy to understand:

1. First and foremost, you need to know what your child does when they go in their diaper. Do they squat? Do they stand in the corner? Do they lay down? You need to know their body position when they pee, and when they poop (they are likely different).

Why do you need to know this, you ask? I’ll tell you why, because of a little son of a bitch who will get in your way to successful potty training before you even know it: muscle coordination. Let me give you an example: If you are a woman, I want you to stand up. Right where you are, just stand up. Okay, are you standing? Good. Now pee. Just stand there, and pee in your pants. No good? It that weird? Is it hard to even imagine yourself doing that? Probably. Because you’re not used to doing it that way! Sure, some of you can do it if you really focus for a minutes or two, but for most women, it’s just confusing. You’re probably thinking, “This isn’t what I’m used to.” “It’s too weird.” Or even, “I can’t relax enough to do it!”

So I say again, in what position does your child pee and/or poop (because they really can be different for each)? That’s the position they’ve been using their entire lives. THEIR ENTIRE LIVES! With the exception of the short months in which they were not mobile. And here you come along with your, “Now I want you to forget everything your body knows, and do it this way!” “I will bribe you, and cheer for you, and make it seem like it’s a party everytime you do it!” But the one thing you will completely ignore is what their body knows, and how their body works.

There are a whole lot of systems that need to be coordinated before peeing and crapping in your pants can happen. Your child needs to be able to recognize that they need to go. They need to find a bodily position that is comfortable for them. And they need to be able to relax enough to let it happen.

This is basic sensory, cognitive, physical stuff. I promise you, the one thing it is not, is your child trying to be defiant.

2. Good. Now that you know how your child goes potty, you need to be sure your child knows that using the toilet is simply what people do. It’s not a fucking party. It’s not a way to earn treats or toys. Humans go potty in the toilet. It’s that simple. A parent’s job is to teach children how the world works, not how to extort prizes and praise from grown-ups. Using the toilet is part of life, everyone does it, and now it’s their turn to learn.

Barring any unusual circumstance, special needs, etc, there is absolutely no place for bribery in potty training.

3. Next, Pull-Ups can fuck off as far as I’m concerned. If you must use pull-ups, call them what they are, a diaper. Perhaps a fancy diaper, but a diaper nonetheless. And just know that switching your child from diaper to underpants as it suits you, is a recipe for delaying using the potty that much longer. They make training pants that are very absorbant. They make training pants with a waterproof covering. There are ways around using pull-ups. Once you switch to underpants, or “unders” as I call them, you don’t go back. The only exceptions may be for sleeping, or illness.

Guess what? I’m tired of writing, so this will have to hold you over until I can write some more…

Don’t worry, there’s plenty more…