EC with boys – is it really that different than doing EC with girls? Boys bring both unique advantages to and a need for creativity with EC. Today on Ask Andrea, I address three common situations (that actually, girls can experience, too) – touching self on the potty, touching pee in the potty, and spraying while peeing. Listen and then weigh in with your insights, below!
You Will Hear:
- my answer to the “to touch or not touch” question
- how to address playing with pee in the mini potty
- alternative outlets for kids who need to touch
- tips for practicing aim in peeing
- tools to assist with cleaner pottying
- inspiration from a mom with a Down Syndrome toddler
Links and other resources mentioned today:
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
EPISODE 208: Boys + EC
Hey there, welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast. I’m Andrea Olson, your host, author, and mom of five babies – all ECed from birth, all out of diapers by walking.
This is episode 208, Boys + EC. You can find the show notes over at godiaperfree.com/208. Leave a comment, ask a question, and find the links to all the things mentioned in today’s show.
Hello everybody, welcome to the podcast. Today I’ve got a wonderful episode about boys and EC. (I’ve done it once before – you can check that out, here.) For the next several months, I’m going to be answering questions and making sure you have all your top questions answered. So, if you have one for me, you can go to godiaperfree.com/askandrea, and submit it there for consideration in a future episode.
First question today is from Kimberly, the second from Devon. They’re from Michigan and Ohio, they’ve got two boys that are a little bit different in age. Hopefully their questions and insights will help you if you also have a boy. First to Kimberly’s question:
Kimberly: Hi Andrea, My name is Kimberly. I live in South Haven, Michigan, and our son is 10 months old. My question is, my baby has been touching himself and even playing with his pee whenever we put him on the mini potty. What can we do to discourage this aside from physically holding his hands back? When can we expect him to grow out of this habit?
Kimberly, thanks so much for your question. With a 10-month-old, this is totally normal. We live in a diapering culture, so most of the time, parents are not going to be doing EC. So most of the time, babies are going to be wearing a diaper 24/7 unless they have diaper rash. Sometimes at that point, the parents will look me up thinking, “What do I do to prevent diaper rash again?” (Answer: you do EC.) Back to Kimberly’s question. If babies aren’t hardly ever getting access to that part of their bodies, naturally when they have diaper-free time or we’re doing EC or we’re actually even able and blessed to be able to use the potty occasionally or all the time, they’re going to get creative and explorative, and say, “What is this? And I want to touch it all the time.” So I just want to tell you that it’s totally normal. Whether your son is intact or not (circumcised or not), baby has the same instinct to pull at the foreskin and to tug on the penis.
So, touching himself is normal, but you’ve got a problem here because he’s playing with pee on the potty, in the mini potty, and that’s a clear “no.” So if this is your first child, any of you listening, and you have not felt comfortable saying “no” yet, I want to give you full permission to say no when they do something.
With Kiva, my first son, I would say, “Not for Kiva,” and I would take and redirect him. Redirection at this age is awesome, definitely handing him something that he can hold, he will change his direction because he’s only 10 months old. If you’ve got a three-year-old, saying no is a little bit different, and that’s why I want you to do EC and wrap up EC with or without potty training because I don’t want you to have to potty train a three-year-old. It is not the right age to be able to do that smoothly.
So, to redirect him, say “no” and give him something to hold. If you’re not used to saying no, I understand; I never said no with my first one (he still said no anyway, it didn’t matter). It was a first-time mom thing. With all my others, I have definitely said no. And sometimes they know I mean business, sometimes they’re like, “I don’t know, I can kind of push this one.”
So if you feel firmly that your child should not be playing with pee, just say, “No, no, no,” move their hand onto their knee. You don’t need to physically restrain your child or anything like that. I know it feels like, “Oh my gosh, this is crazy. He won’t stop.” What I want to do is address the question “when will he grow out of it?” It will pass quickly. After having five children, being pregnant with my sixth, after watching hundreds of thousands of other families go through similar things, I can tell you one thing for certain: everything passes so quickly.
I mean, you run into any older person and they’re going to tell you, “If you blink, your child’s going to be 18 and out of the house, you need to cherish every moment.” You will miss the tantrum days, you’ll miss the potty pause days, you will miss the days when you are dealing with diapers, you will miss this time when your child was playing with their pee in the mini potty, and looking back, it’ll only be maybe a couple of weeks.
The other recommendation I have is this. Anytime in parenting there’s something or some situation that’s causing the most friction, remove that from the equation if you can. So if you remove the mini potty from the equation at the moment, put it in your minivan or whatever else, your other vehicle, or keep it in the closet for just a little while, and once we get past this stage, we can reintroduce it.
Or, leave it in the living room, your child goes up to the mini potty, take that as a clear signal that, “Hey, I am actually thinking about the potty and I’m touching the potty, I need to go.” But use the big toilet with a seat reducer instead, okay? This will prevent him playing with the pee in the potty because he’ll be too far away to touch it. He might try to reach in and play with the water, in which case, please just give him something super cool to hold that he could only hold in the bathroom. Again, this will pass.
We don’t want to make touching himself a negative thing. One of the biggest benefits of EC is that children of both genders have this really awesome relationship with themselves. So no shame and no weird awkwardness around the private parts. When we’re comfortable with our genitals from an early age, it becomes less of an issue.
I can’t help but wonder, and I know there haven’t been any long-term studies done on this, but I can’t help but wonder if being made to poop and pee in your diaper on your own skin, and in social situations where you have to do it basically in front of people (even though you have a diaper on), I find it really hard to believe that that doesn’t affect your self-esteem and self-image and your level of shame around your private parts as a young adult, an adult, et cetera.
So I’m just putting it out there, if it resonates with you, great, if it doesn’t, great. But, babies touching themselves, letting them explore their bodies, especially if you just started EC at 9 months and they’re 10 months old now, there’s going to be some exploration and that’s actually healthy. Now it’s healthy until it’s not. So, if they’re sitting there in the middle of church in the pew and they start to touch themselves, that’s obviously not appropriate, and we’re going to say, “No, no, no, we don’t do that here in public.”
But at home, just exploring, again, there are a lot of studies that show that the foreskin needs to loosen over time, and that it happens through the touching. So this is a good thing. I think you guys get it: say no, give them something to hold, use the big toilet with the seat reducer temporarily, and this will pass quickly. If you guys have anything else to ask or to add about boys and EC, go to the show notes at godiaperfree.com/208.
Now, let’s listen to Devon from Ohio’s question:
Devon: Hi, my name is Devon, my son’s name is Avery, we are from Ohio. My son is two years old, he’s very comfortable on the potty thanks to elimination communication. My question has to do with aiming. My son tends to touch his penis while he’s peeing and we are just having a lot of spraying. Do you have tips on how to help him learn to aim it to the splash guard, get his actual urine into the potty and not all over my floor? My son does have Down syndrome, which means he does have a developmental delay. And so, although he is two, he’s more like a one-year-old. And we’re also starting to see that potty pause because he’s learning how to walk. Some of the tips you give, like, “Just explain it to him,” don’t quite work [because of where he is developmentally]. With my son, it’s very much about positive reinforcement, consistent language, consistent actions. My fear is that I’m accidentally going to create a bad habit like teaching him that he can pee everywhere, but I also don’t want to teach him that he shouldn’t touch his penis. I need to teach him that he can touch his penis, but in a correct way. So my situation is kind of unique, but I trust that any advice you give is probably going to be helpful. Thank you very, very much for all you do.
You’re very welcome, Devon. I love that Devon is just so on top of the differences between children who have Down syndrome and neurotypical or genetically typical children. There are differences, and clearly, Devon, you’ve done your research and you have really great caregivers helping you out and teaching you, and you’re just a great mom, to be aware of what works and what doesn’t work for your child.
Devon’s unique situation does impact the advice that I’ll give. I’m going to give it like he’s a one-year-old who’s just learning how to walk. I understand that he is two, but he is more of a one-year-old in the developmental stages. If you guys didn’t know, children with Down syndrome go through the exact same developmental stages, they’re just a little bit delayed on some and a lot delayed on others. (I do have another episode on EC and Down Syndrome.)
So we’re talking about boys and spray, issues with aiming. I would say, if your child is able to stand up and you’ve got a boy, you can get a small stool, if they’re not tall enough yet to reach over the lid. I’m assuming that Devon’s child is old enough to reach over. In other words, his penis is higher than the lid of the toilet. We want to put something in the toilet like a Cheerio or some kind of floating round thing with a hole in the middle. I would just get some Cheerios, even if you don’t eat the things, and have your child try to hit the Cheerio. This is an old school potty training tip and I would definitely do that.
The other thing is just like when we’re using messy paints in homeschool, I always use some kind of a splash pad. They make them for the toilet, they make them specifically for boys. And even my 12-year-old, he’s the problem child of my three boys. He likes to spray everywhere.
I definitely explain it to him and that doesn’t work, positive reinforcement does work with my son. My son has Asperger’s, not quite the same as the situation we’re dealing with here, but definitely his brain, if I tell him something, I have to tell him a million times and it’s almost as if he doesn’t hear it. So I get you. What I have to do in that case is just be a broken record and repeat myself, but also protect the area as best I can.
So we want to put a spray pad, they do sell them, that goes around the toilet. And that will help a lot as well. And we definitely want to teach all boys, you guys, to lift and lower the toilet seat when they’re interested in doing the standup thing. The other thing that could really help is a mini potty that’s actually a urinal, a urinal that sticks on the wall. That could be really fun, and also it’s way more containing because it’s this round or ovular orb thing that they can go into, and then the dish comes out and you just dump that. So that’s what I would do.
I love that you said that it’s okay for him to touch his penis, but in a correct way. And that is definitely the thing, you guys, with EC, we have all these opportunities to set healthy boundaries at an early age, and I think that that’s wonderful. So let’s use these opportunities to teach. We are our children’s first teachers. If you’re homeschooling like me, then you are also their teacher until they’re 18. And I think that it’s important to know that we’re not scolding or discouraging, we’re actually teaching. So this is very important as well. Devon, thank you so much for your question.
If you’d like to add to the boy conversation, just go on over to godiaperfree.com/208, and I’ll see you there.
Thanks so much for listening. This is the Go Diaper Free Podcast at godiaperfree.com. We’ll see you next time.
What are your questions about or tips for doing EC with boys?
I look forward to discussing with you in the comments, below!
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 12 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)