Did you know that elimination communication has an expiration date? Or rather, there’s an age at which it’s no longer developmentally appropriate, and when our child reaches that age, it can get messy (pun intended!). Believe it or not, the biggest things that need to change at this stage are YOUR mindset and view of your role in pottying, and your child will follow suit! Could it really be that simple? Tune into today’s episode to find out!
You Will Hear:
- How to plan ahead for wrapping up if your child is not yet walking
- Quick tips for determining if it’s time to shift to potty training
- An overview of how the “Ten Ways of Being” contrast with an EC mindset
- Resources for additional support if you’re finding it tough to wrap up, or transition from EC to potty training - we got you!
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- Go Diaper Free Book
- Passing the baton -Podcast #59
- “Passing the Baton” Young Toddlers EC Program
- Wrapping Up EC MiniCourse
- Shifting from EC to Potty Training: What’s the difference? - Podcast #229
- My baby won’t poop if I’m angry or upset! - Podcast 252
- Tiny Potty Training Book
- Inconsistency in Potty Training! - Podcast #167
- How to wrap up EC when your child is in daycare - Podcast #254
- Find a Local Coach or EC Group
- Private EC Support Group on Facebook
- Private Potty Training Support Group on Facebook
- Go Diaper Free Store
- Tiny Undies Store
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
EPISODE 255: The Parent's Role in EC vs Potty Training
Did you know that elimination communication has an expiration date? Or rather, there's an age at which it's no longer developmentally appropriate, and when our child reaches that age, it can get messy – pun intended. Believe it or not, the biggest things that need to change at this stage are your mindset and view of your role in pottying, and your child will follow suit. Could it really be that simple? Let's find out. This is episode 255, The Parent’s Role in EC versus Potty Training.
Hello, and welcome to The Go Diaper Free Podcast. I'm your host, Nicole Cheever, Go Diaper Free certified coach and mama to three kiddos who all went through EC and potty training at different ages and stages.
Hello there, welcome back to the Go Diaper Free Podcast. I'm Nicole Cheever with Go Diaper Free, and this is episode 255, The Parent’s Role in EC versus Potty Training. You can find the show notes and links to everything I'll mention in today's episode over at godiaperfree.com/255. When you're done listening, please head over there and drop any questions you might have, leave us comments, engage with us. We love to hear from you. If you're listening on your favorite podcast player or watching on YouTube, please make sure you subscribe and of course, we would absolutely love it if you leave us a review.
I'm covering today something that I think is one of the biggest struggles that I see our listeners and followers dealing with in elimination communication, and that's making that mindset shift when your child is in that phase where they're ready to wrap up or you might actually have to finish off elimination communication with potty training. I talked just a second ago about that expiration date. We have a ton of information, of course, in the Go Diaper Free book and on the podcast here about the fact that elimination communication is really only appropriate up until about 18 months. It's not a hard stop. Every child is different. So, you'll have to determine what's best for your child, but that's around the time when they start to really make this developmental shift of becoming a toddler and wanting autonomy. At that point, elimination communication typically doesn't work as well anymore and can even backfire. Many of our families have to either make the decision to wrap up, but if they've gone far enough, it's really best to finish off, wrap up elimination communication with potty training. It's a whole different animal. Even for me as a coach, it took a little time for me, with my youngest, to really make that mental shift. Once I did, everything really started to fall into place.
If you're still doing EC and you're not quite at this stage, make sure you're looking at the Building Blocks of Potty Independence in the Go Diaper Free book and in episode 59, which is, Passing the baton: the art of gradually handing over the potty “keys” to your baby. We want them, at the end of the day, to be potty independent. So, if you're practicing EC, you can build this into your practice. Starting anywhere from about six to nine months old, you can start building that independence into your practice. You want to move from doing most of the work, to working as a team, to eventually your child taking over.
This is not potty training. This is still EC, and that process is outlined in the book. We have a Passing the Baton program. We have a Wrapping Up EC MiniCourse. We have tons of material on how you can be doing this. So, make sure you're having that long view, you're thinking ahead, and right around the time your child starts to master walking, or if you've started after that, before they hit around 18 months, you're going to want to make sure you're wrapping up. Start sooner rather than later.
If you found yourself in the situation, where you didn't quite wrap up and you're needing to finish off EC with potty training, we're here today talking about this big mindset shift. Even if you did some dabbling in EC, fell off the wagon, took a break, and now you're at a point where your child is older than 18 months and you're wanting to get back into it, you're in potty training territory. We really want you to also make this shift.
A quick note on resistance. A lot of resistance actually indicates that potty training is in order, or if your child is 18 months or older, they are developmentally ready for this shift. If you really want to get into some of the nitty-gritty of what the big difference is between EC and potty training, check out episode 229. That's one that I did on the specific differences between the two. Potty training is on the job training. You're teaching them how to potty on their own in more of a shortened period of time and using their phase of development to your advantage, really capitalizing on your child's drive for independence and the skills that they do have and can have at this stage.
It's really important, of course, we're talking about roles here, to define our roles. First off, your child's role is to learn to recognize when they have to go, learn how to get to the place where it's appropriate to go, and how to put their own pee and poop in the potty from now on, forever. That's what we're doing when we're wrapping up or we're potty training. Your role is to teach them and to guide. Your demeanor and patience is absolutely going to affect the process. If you're stressed, they will be stressed. Check out episode 252 that one of our coaches did about co-regulation. If you are ambivalent, your child won't take you seriously, and if you're overbearing and controlling, your child will either resist or show you fear. This is all in The Tiny Potty Training Book. We're going to quickly go through the section there on Ways of Being for potty training, because this is really where the meat of it is.
This is really where we're going to figure out what the difference is in mindset – mindset is everything here – between EC and potty training, I'll quickly move through the bullet points and you can read more in The Tiny Potty Training Book, but I'm going to highlight specifically how these are different from what you were practicing in EC.
Number one is: be physical. We are teaching by physical demonstration and moving our child to the potty. Telling is not enough. Physically guiding them is key, especially in the first phases of potty training. EC, of course, is physical, so this is very similar, but you will be physical in different ways in potty training.
Number two is: be consistent. Children learn by repetition. So, you must be consistent in your teaching. EC, on the other hand, can be part-time, relaxed, flexible, and inconsistent, because it's much more about exposure and communication. Check out episode 167 all about inconsistency in potty training. Once we hit potty training, this does become an issue and I think that's a sticking point for a lot of parents who are in this phase, is you were more relaxed, you were able to go with the flow with EC, and now we have to be a little bit more rigid. It doesn't mean to be harsh, it just means that we need to be clear and concise and have very well-defined boundaries.
Number three is: be steadfast. Start as you mean to go on, be committed, and in a good way, ruthless. If your mind is not fully made up on whether it's right to potty-train at this time, don't do it. It will really backfire on you if you're not resolute. Again, you can take breaks with EC without spoiling it, but with potty training, you have to be determined to never ever go back to diapers again.
Number four: be kind. There's no room for coercion, meanness, anger, or punishment in potty training. This is a normal bodily function. We're simply teaching where it goes. We do this with kindness and respect. Of course, we all get frustrated. Acknowledge it, take a deep breath and carry on. Be kind to yourself, you deserve it. This will be the same for EC, of course. We're going to be kind. We're not going to get frustrated when our child has more wet back-ups than we would really prefer during the day because that's not what it's about. EC is about communication and exposure to the potty. With potty training, even though we are being more clear in our boundaries, we still need to be kind.
Number five: be clear. There is also no room for ambiguity or doubt. When you are very clear and consistent, your child eventually gets that you are serious and follows suit. While it's important to be clear in EC, there is much more flexibility in room for trial and error. During your EC practice, you as a parent is figuring out what works for you, the schedule, the routine, all of that. With potty training, it's really important to have a clear set routine and The Tiny Potty Training Book really helps you with that.
Number six: be short-winded. When you overtalk, your child may perceive you as fearful and lacking competence. Overtalking prevents our children from (a) being able to listen, and (b) being able to integrate it through their own self-talk. Use simple instructions and brief feedback where needed. Then move on to the next thing. This differs in EC because babies are usually pre-verbal with EC, and talking or narrating to our babies helps their language development. So, this point doesn't apply as much to EC. This is very different in potty training. However, this point can be helpful in wrapping up. If we're spending too much time around the potty, hanging out, having fun, it can be a little bit harder to wrap up. It's better to just start showing them that the potty is time for business, not play. Let's get it done and move on with our day.
Number seven, Ways of Being for potty training, is: be patient. The learning curve is not linear, big brain development here. We were patient when she learned to walk or use a spoon. So, use that skill now. This, of course, will be the same for EC. So, that point does not differ.
Number eight: be positive. Not that it's going to be a wholly positive experience, but what we mean here is to accentuate the positive. Praise the child for doing a good job, not for being good, but for having done a good job. This is not rewards. This is not stickers or treats, but just expressing your approval when things have gone right. I like to say, "Thank you for putting your pee pee in the potty," or, "Good job putting your pee in the potty." Things like that. When things go wrong, clean it up and make a brief statement of the correct action, then move on. You can say, "No, pee goes in the potty," to show your disapproval of the action. But focus on the positive, so that every little success will build and it will help motivate both of you.
This is a little bit of a mindset shift because in EC, there really are no negatives. Every miss is a learning opportunity. While that can still be true for potty training, the point here is to steadily move towards fewer misses. Whereas with EC, that's never really a focus. Especially if you started EC as a newborn, you're going to go through hills and valleys where there are going to be points where their signals disappear or they become a stealth pooper, you're going to have more wet backups or fewer. So, that's really an up and down experience, whereas in potty training, we're really trying to laser focus on moving in one direction towards all the pee and poo in the potty, all the time.
Number nine: be non-coercive. We are not using force, rewards, M&Ms, sticker charts or anything else that's pressuring. We are working at a swift pace, but we are not forcing the process and using external reward systems to bribe our kids in the process. Rewards cause power struggles in potty training, bottom line. In contrast, rewards never really play into EC. Just an acknowledgement of things like, "Thank you for peeing in the potty," or, "Oh, you put your pee in the potty."
Number 10 is: be united. If you have a spouse or partner, it is very helpful if you're both on the same page about potty training. If you aren't, the child will sense it and will exploit it. I think almost all of us have experienced “parent shopping” at least one point in our parenting journey. If you have a daycare or caregiver, or if grandma watches the kids sometimes, please prepare them. See the troubleshooting section of The Tiny Potty Training Book for this and last week's episode, episode 254, where we talked about going to daycare without diapers.
In contrast, EC can be super part-time and practiced by just one caregiver. This can be another way that parents who are practicing EC find it challenging to shift your mindset over to potty training. We really do need to be consistent across the board and part of that consistency is being united.
Those are the Ten Ways of Being for potty training. Again, if you've practiced EC and you're trying to get into that mindset, this is going to be a really important section for you, and can really make or break your experience. Make sure if you haven't grabbed a copy of The Tiny Potty Training Book, you go ahead and do that and study these Ten Ways of Being. I just went briefly through them. There's more detail in the book, of course.
Just to wrap it up, we all have to stretch in potty training. If you slip with any of the 10 Ways of Being, you are human. Simply notice it and make an effort to switch back into it. It's easy to fall into those habits with elimination communication. Just be aware of that in yourself and get back on track. These are moving targets and we can only do our best given our situations. No hard feelings if you're not perfect, because, hello, who is? Just strive as much as you can and understand why we're doing each of these things. They all help.
If you find yourself in potty training mode and you've gone through all of this in the book already and you're still struggling, find a coach. Personally, I really have a passion for helping parents shift from EC to potty training, or do potty training a little bit later, probably because I went through some of that with my oldest. So, I can really relate. But we have tons of coaches who are really skilled at troubleshooting potty training and getting everybody back on track. I will link to the Coach Finder page on the Go Diaper Free website in the show notes. Again, that's godiaperfree.com/255. So, make sure you head over there when you're done listening or watching here.
Also, make sure you've gotten into either the Private Book Owners area for either the Go Diaper Free book or the potty training book, or make sure you get into one of our free Facebook support groups. I will link those in the show notes as well. While you're over there on the blog, please let us know, have you ever used potty training to wrap up EC and had to make these big shifts? If so, what helped you the most in this transition in your mindset? Please share your experience, godiaperfree.com/255. Thanks so much for tuning in and hanging out with me today. We appreciate all of you, and we'll see you next week.
Want to catch your first pee today? Grab Andrea's free easy start guide and do just that. It's only one page and it will change your world. Get it at godiaperfree.com/start. We'll see you next time.
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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.)