EPISODE 071: Remedial
Welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast where we're all about helping you potty your baby as early as birth. I'm your host, Andrea Olson, author and mom of five ECed babies. This is episode 71, Montessori-inspired EC - remedial toilet learning past two years of age.
Okay, so just to explain the title a little bit, this is part of...the third part of a four-part series based on Merry L. Hadden's article “Toilet Training Versus Toilet Learning,” which you can check out at the show notes, godiaperfree.com/71. Episodes 69 and 70 were parts one and two. This is the third part. We'll have one more part next week. But, she uses the terms remedial toilet learning for anything starting at two years and up in her exploration of Montessori-based potty learning.
The last two episodes were about the natural laws of development where we talked about the fetus and how everything's prepared perfectly. And then when the baby's born, we have certain responsibilities that are culturally determined. And then, last episode, 70, was about the adult's role and what exactly should we do when the baby's born and what preparations can be made to do things in a way where we're teaching them and giving them the information that is developmentally appropriate. Today, we'll address what to do if you've missed the developmental window for EC and have a two-year-old or older whom you are ready to potty train.
So yeah, Merry calls potty training at two years and up remedial from a biological, developmental, natural perspective. Sorry, not sorry, but this is true. Not sorry because now you're going to have the information to do something about it. But yes, this child has not had this earlier preparation and was not assisted during his sensitive period for toilet awareness because the parent did not know that this was an available option. No big deal. His bladder and bowels have physically matured, but he's been conditioned to use plastic diapers because we live in a diapering culture.
So our goals with this child are to help them transition from an unconscious state of what he's doing to a conscious state of what he's doing, so awareness. In toilet teaching a child over two years old, our second goal is to help the child transition from isolation to social organization, so from going and pooping in the corner in his diaper to joining our tribe, our community of humans who are in a manner of social organization where everybody belongs and has a place and everybody does similar things with stuff as big as waste and body functions. Number three is to help the child recover his awareness of his bodily sensations, because these have diminished from diapering for so long. And number four, our goal is to give sensorial feedback. So now instead of the pee being wicked away from the child, they will start to feel wet with the absence of the diaper there. And the fifth goal is to support the child in transition from telling adults after he is wet to as he his wetting to before he has to go, which is ideal, right? And the sixth one is ... Sorry, I thought there were five. There were six. Through repetition, we want to support the child in realizing that sitting on the toilet is way more efficient than helping to clean up his accidents.
So our way of being with an older child should be respectful, and this is per Merry’s article, but I totally agree with all of this. We should be respectful with them, with a child who's doing remedial toilet training. We should be patient and understanding. We should be steadfast. In other words, we are going to clearly change things. We should be matter-of-fact, not positive, not negative, but just matter-of-fact. We should be natural and accepting of this child, and we should be clear and repetitive.
These things that Merry brings up are actually really similar to the 10 ways of being that I start out my potty training book with, The Tiny Potty Training Book, which is linked to over in the show notes, which you can find at godiaperfree.com/71. If you get the excerpt, the free excerpt of my potty training book from my website, it has those 10 ways of being in it. I do think that's very important. Our attitude determines our success in toilet training in over two year old. We want to tell the child clearly that everyone uses a bathroom. We want to give choices, not of do you want to use the toilet or just go in your diaper today, but give choices of which color of underpants would you like to wear. Would you like to go to the bathroom alone or would you like me to come with you? Things like that.
Merry suggests using proper terms for everything, which I admit that I don't do, but it makes sense. Using the proper terms, such as bowel movement, urine, penis, vagina, helps normalize this whole process as a natural part of our experience and healthy body maintenance. I've definitely heard it in infant-assisted classrooms, which is that Montessori version of preschool, where they use BM, urine, et cetera, so that the child knows the correct term from the beginning. If available, older kids are helpful role models. It's so important that an older kid can socialize the younger kid into using the toilet. If you've got an older kid who helped potty train your younger kid, you know what I mean. If you don't have the luxury of an older kid who is potty trained who can help show your kid the ropes, my potty training book actually comes with my then-three-year-old Isadora's videos where she shows your child how to do X, Y, or Z.
Merry also suggests you have an open door policy in your home bathroom. So if previously you always go to the bathroom and lock your kid out, you want to have an open door policy, have a mini potty next to your toilet where they can see what you're doing and join in if they would like to. She's also got a list of things to do. And again, this is all from that one article that we've been exploring over the last two episodes and today and we'll explore again next week. But for remedial toilet training over two years old, these are the things we want to do.
Number one, we want to dress in underpants. This gives biofeedback. They feel, hear, and smell urine as it's coming out, after it's come out. We want to, number two, offer the potty and change wet underpants in the bathroom. So if they have an accident during this learning, we offer the potty anyway and we have the child participate. These are wet. These are dry. And we have a bathroom that's set up in a Montessori-friendly manner that has everything within the child's reach. They participate in it because eventually they're going to be like, "This is way too much effort. I'd rather just go to the bathroom than have to clean up all these wet underpants with mostly myself."
The third to-do that Merry lists when working with a two-year-old and up is to use the times when people normally need to go to the bathroom. And in my terminology, I call this the four easy catches. You can check out my four YouTube videos or podcast episodes on those. But basically, upon wake-ups, when you know they need to poop, when you're transitioning from a car seat to the house, et cetera, and ... Oh, geez. There's another one I can't remember right now, but you can look those up as well.
All right, we want to help. Number four, help empty the mini potty into the toilet, little kiddo. They realize that sitting on the big toilet is more efficient, and that's definitely going to be the choice in the end.
The fifth thing she suggest doing is to have the child help clean up the messes and place the wet or soiled underpants in the proper place. This also creates extra steps for them to participate in being responsible for what they've created, and then they want to choose the big toilet as the more efficient route in the end.
The sixth tip for what to do, Merry says ... And she doesn't give specific potty training advice, so actually there isn't a sixth tip. So I inserted a sixth tip here to grab my free potty training primer. It's a series of a couple of emails that will help get you prepared as the parent to potty train. It includes my pep talk on we're in a diapering culture, and here's permission to do this safely. Or go ahead and get my Tiny Potty Training Book to learn how to do it. So she gives five clear to-do steps, but sometimes that's not enough for parents. So the sixth advice I would give to you is to get either the free primer or the book and just get educated on the exact how-tos and all the troubleshooting stuff. Half of the book is actually troubleshooting.
Okay. So that's it for today. Short and sweet. Remedial toilet learning for ages two years and up. We have talked about, basically, a way of being with an older child, given that they've been conditioned to use a diaper. We want to be very patient with them, but we also want to be very clear and move at a pretty consistent pace. This is what we're doing now. So it doesn't mean long and drawn out. Patience actually just means understanding. We've gone over several goals that we have for a child who is going through this at a later age, and we've also gone through five to-dos. And then the sixth to-do that I snuck into there is to get my resources if you want more guidance.
Next time we'll cover preparing the environment, the last part of our four-part series of learning from Merry’s article. Again, you can download it at the show notes for this episode at godiaperfree.com/71. Please leave a review on iTunes today. It helps more people find this podcast and helpful potty information on iTunes, and it actually makes us show up in a search at all. That's just the way it works. If you can do that, I would really appreciate it.
I'm going to share a couple of tips from our readers before we go. Next week we will talk about the wonderful topic of preparing the environment, which really makes or breaks your potty practice at home.
Okay, so a couple tips from our readers. Carissa in South Dakota, her child was two years old when she wrote this. She started EC at one month and potty trained at 15 months, night trained at 21 months. “Don't expect EC to transition seamlessly to more and more catches and then just spontaneously end eventually.” It does happen for some people, but for her that was not her experience at all. “It felt like we really stagnated with catches for several months, around 10 to 15 months, and a few months past there, and I couldn't figure out why he wasn't getting better at it. Then once we switched from EC to potty training and took away those diaper backups, things improved drastically very quickly.”
She mentions getting rid of the diapers, and she also mentioned switching from EC to potty training. That was a choice that they made at 15 months, and it really worked for them. It gives a clear signal, just like in our last episode when we talked about what the adult's role is and preparations. One of them was to put the child in cotton training pants at four months for diaper-free time. But also, between 12 and 18 months, the sooner the better that you can get rid of that diaper. In a Montessori classroom, they get rid of them at 12 months. You're in cotton pants all day, bud. And that is what really gives a signal to the child of, hey, things are different now. So thanks for sharing that, Carissa.
And then the last tip. Shawna from Savannah, “Make it fun. My hubby and I took a score the first day, our son misses versus parents' catches. In the beginning, our son was winning, but it really boosted our morale when we ended up with way more catches than misses, 9 verses 23.” And they won the game. So they made it a game, which was super fun.
Shawna actually mentioned that she started our Tiny Potty Training Book, that book that I mentioned. “We're a little over a week in, and our son pees and poops in the potty consistently when prompted. The sitter just told us that he went to the pot on his own today without prompting and peed. Even though he wears pants with us, she had him commando. But hey, that's success for us.” So that was at 18 months. They did the potty training, and it just worked so well within a week.
So we don't want to get to the stage of having to do what Merry calls remedial potty training. If you're listening to this before two years old, definitely look at all the resources we have of wrapping it up or starting potty training. But, this is a gift that we can give, and next week we're going to continue learning about this gift. How do we prepare the environment for successful toileting? This covers for EC and potty training. So I hope you'll join me next week.
Again, this is Andrea Olson with the Go Diaper Free Podcast at godiaperfree.com. Till then, have a wonderful week.
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