This post was originally posted on September 9, 2015, and has been fully updated on September 8, 2020 to include an audio (Podcast) version, a video (YouTube) version, and to include some basic updates. Enjoy! xx Andrea
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If you want to watch me record today’s podcast episode, you can do that on my youtube version right here:
If you've been doing Elimination Communication and things were going smoothly, and all of a sudden your baby is simply resisting, full-force, to sit on the potty (but you're certain that you are paying attention. In fact, you pay attention so much that this SHOULD be working, right? You put aside everything else and make sure his pottying needs are met. You've been damn near perfect and now...it's stopped working!!!)...you might take a look at this new theory I've developed around infant potty training rebellion.
I've woven the philosophies of EC & the Continuum Concept together in a way that demonstrates how child-centerdness and infant potty training simply do not mesh. The thing is, if you are making this mistake, you probably don't even realize that you're doing this at all!
Okay...so now for the excerpt from my book to learn why babies sometimes resist pottying, why the Terrible Twos exist in toddlers in the first place, and what you can do about it. Like, today.
The book The Continuum Concept, by Jean Liedloff, eloquently illustrates how the Yequana people, Stone Age Indians residing deep in the forests of South America, raise their children, emphasizing that what we expect of our little ones determines much of what they do and how they behave. If we expect them to fall, they do as we expected. If we expect them to potty outside, they do. For the Yequana, it's not an emotional battle against children for anything, it's a totally non-adversarial lifestyle.
You’ll recall that Jean recommends strongly against a child-centered rearing in her book. She goes to much length to prove that child-centeredness leads to rebellion, to a baby who is constantly (& loudly) signaling the caregiver to “give me the correct experience, show me how to be an adult!” Child-centeredness produces a super-grumpy child.
She recommends going on with your life as you did before having your baby, doing grown-up stuff while wearing your baby so he can witness and begin learning what it will take to be a grown-up and contribute to the society he was born into.
While doing all this grown-up stuff (shopping, laundry, cooking, walking, socializing, using the toilet, gardening, etc.), you remain receptive to the signals that your baby (in his little baby carrier, held close to your body) is constantly giving off. This builds your intuition, connection, and awareness, but not at the expense of irritating your child.
Jean mentioned that if you sit around and stare at your baby all day, asking him what he wants to do (instead of showing him what “we” do), he will become agitated and start signaling for correction. He is not signaling for more playtime with you, or because he’s a “terrible two” or toddler, or because he’s a willful, deviant troublemaker; it’s because he wants you to show him something interesting by doing something interesting.
Within this setting, babies are softer, calmer, and happier. When parents EC their babies in countries where the continuum (nature’s plan) is honored, they do so matter-of-factly: “This is where we pee. I believe you need to go, so if you do, go here.”
The book also mentions that babies crave information. So, we can apply this to EC by providing our children with information about where we expect them to potty. We don’t plead, we don’t persuade or coerce, we don’t force; these are all what Jean calls adversarial styles of parenting. We align ourselves with the fact that our babies wish to keep themselves, us, and their dens dry, and we assist them in going when they tell us they need to go (or when it’s “time” per the 4 Roads to Potty Time or one of the 4 Easy Catches).
Jean recommends not being permissive, so when baby pees on the floor, we express our dismay but do not direct it at the child. We matter-of-factly tell them this is not the place to go; that over there is. We clean it up (often with baby’s help) without anger towards them. We continue to love the child, but we do not pretend to love the displeasing act. We teach them about right and wrong by reacting to things that displease us in an authentic manner.
Jean believed our babies are innately social and that we should expect them to do the right thing, to want to participate and cooperate with us. We don’t have to convince them, we just believe. They are born social, and the book states we mold them into becoming antisocial by our expectations that they will be bad, terrible twos, and other examples of “trouble.”
By giving babies information about living (and pottying) instead of trying to force, please, or question them about what they want to do today, we give them the opportunity to happily contribute to the society they were born into. We pee in the potty. That’s just what we do.
A SUMMARY OF HOW THIS PHILOSOPHY APPLIES TO EC:
•Don't hover over your baby all day long waiting for her to signal
•Go forth with your life, showing her what it is to be a grown-up from her "right" seat in the carrier, close to your heart, until she’s able to move about on her own
•Be diffusely aware of her pottying signals and needs without hyper-focusing on her as the center of attention
•Teach her about life, and pottying, by modeling it in your day-to-day activities and giving her matter-of-fact information
•Do not coerce, plead, or punish; instead, help her do what humans are expected to do: pee/poo in the appropriate place
•Let the mobile baby go along with his whims and explore, keeping an ear out for the signal, intuition, or time to go without imposing upon his deep exploration of his surroundings; pause play to pee, and use a backup when appropriate
•Have an "open-door" policy in your family bathroom so your baby can get hands-on, eyes-on experience of what is expected of her in the grown-up landscape
Alright. If you're interested, you can read more of Jean's articles here. And remember, if you are smack in the middle of potty resistance hell, all of this will pass before you know it! Detach your focus a bit and watch the magic unfold. :)
Oh, and if you haven't begun EC yet, but your baby is 0-18 months old, get yourself started here. It's easier than changing poopy diapers, and as you can see from the excerpt above, if you're equipped with the right information from the get-go, it will be a heck of a lot easier!!!
So, I am curious to know....How did you get through your baby's resistance to sitting on the potty? What did you learn?