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Thoughts on toilet training

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Perhaps not the best place, but I have been having thoughts and I wanted to discuss them...so here I go.

My daughter (12 months) is essentially potty trained. The only reason she spends time in diapers is because I do not stick with it as rigorously as her inability to speak/walk requires. She will pee and poo in the potty, and, if I'm careful about get her to the potty on time every time for a few days, she starts to crawl to the potty when she needs to go. If I miss even 1 time, it starts all over.

At a mainstream board, I mentioned that I had been working on potty-training her, and voiced my logic as to why I was potty training so young.

We never wait until a child is emotionally ready before we bathe the child. We don't wait until the child is emotionally ready before requiring that the child ride in a carseat. If you use a high chair, you use it from the time the child is physically ready for it - no emotional involvment. We don't wait until a child is emotionally ready to sleep in the area we have designated for sleeping. Why do we wait for the child to be emotionally ready to eliminate waste? It's not a need that develops suddenly or without warning...it's always there, just as the need to eat and sleep are always there.

We learn to interpret our child's cries regarding hunger and sleep when the child is mere days old. I also frequently hear parents of newborns complain of changing a diaper only to have the baby eliminate as soon as the old diaper's off. To me, that's an indication that the baby cries BEFORE he/she eliminates...so why do parents not take the time to learn their child's cries in regards to elimination?

I was told that I was cruel and abusive, and would inevitably damage my child for forcing her too young, and she would end up emotionally scarred.

I have been thinking about this, and thinking about this, and thinking about this...not because I believe she will be emotionally scarred, but wondering where the belief that emotions are tied to potty training came from?

And here is my thought...it's not about potty training...it's about a change in expectations. We expect a baby to be hungry; we expect a baby to need to sleep. We expect a baby to wear a diaper. Then, at some date that we, the parents, have pre-determined, we expect the child to use a toilet. The child doesn't have that same expectation. The child expects to continue doing what he/she has always done - wear a diaper.

Is it possible that the emotional recoil parents fear in regards to potty training is NOT from having to use the potty, but from the change that comes from "yesterday, I willingly changed your diaper, but today I'm telling you that you have to be a big boy/girl and use the potty"?
post #2 of 27
The idea of potty training being damaging probably stemmed from the fact that many parents in this society in an effort to get their children out of diapers used harsh methods instead of listening to their cues. I really think that EC and potty training are very different. ECing is about listening and respecting your baby's wishes. To me, potty training is more about forcing or coercing a child to give up diapers after already teaching them to soil themselves. I don't see the harm in EC because like other intuitive and responsive parenting practices it encourages parent-child bonding and meets the child's needs.
post #3 of 27
Exactly. Couldn't have said it better!
post #4 of 27
A lot of the anti-EC stuff I've read has quoted Freud. Apparently he believed that potty training had a big impact on a person's psyche.
post #5 of 27
I agree and disagree. I EC my one year old and it's been such a relief, really, to do what's obviously best for her. However, I diapered and potty trained my nine year old. Potty training can be done without coersion and with following the child's lead. Most parents don't do it that way, but it can be done.
post #6 of 27
I agree with ktmama. I've done both traditional potty learning and EC (though my EC kid is only 3 months old and graduation day is a long way away still). I followed my daughter's lead and gently potty trained her. There weren't tears and there wasn't coercion going on, although I admit there was a tiny bit of bribery at some point-- took a little longer for her to get the hang of the pooping thing! We never once punished her for an accident, threatened her if she didn't go potty, or made her feel uncomfortable with the process. I think it's unfair to lump all the traditional potty training parents in one group because not everyone potty trains the same way.
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by lacysmommy
I agree with ktmama. I've done both traditional potty learning and EC (though my EC kid is only 3 months old and graduation day is a long way away still). I followed my daughter's lead and gently potty trained her. There weren't tears and there wasn't coercion going on, although I admit there was a tiny bit of bribery at some point-- took a little longer for her to get the hang of the pooping thing! We never once punished her for an accident, threatened her if she didn't go potty, or made her feel uncomfortable with the process. I think it's unfair to lump all the traditional potty training parents in one group because not everyone potty trains the same way.
I'm certainly not trying to start a debate here, but it may just be a matter of symentics. I consider even those who start late like at 18 months or beyond and choose methods where they watch their child and wait for signs that they might need to eliminate and introduce the potty is still EC regardless of the child's age. On the other hand, I consider even fairly benign methods like "bribery" to be a form of coercion. It sure feels like coercion to me when I try bribing my DS, 3 years 9 months old, to use the potty. It is much different than just watching my DD for signs she is about to go. I'm not saying that "bribery" is damaging or anything just that it's a form of coercion.
post #8 of 27
Socially/culturally, our idea that potty time as connected to emotions came about as a result of psychologists (particularly Freudian theorists) - AND the intro of the diaper INDUSTRY. (There were some Docs - according to some reading I've done - that kinda helped create the whole idea that potty time should not be anything like EC or the other methods that were sort of sick spin-offs of EC...) Anyway... I think people who are not willing to recognize benefits of things other than their "own way" are close-minded and ignorant. And it seems to me that's the majority of people who comment regularly on mainstream boards. Well, we can only hope to sway those who are still searching for their own way, eh?
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
I wasn't attempting to pass judgement on parents who potty-train at a later age, and I apologize if my original post came off that way.

I certainly hope and believe that most parents are gentle in how they potty train their children, I'm just wondering where the philosophy that it's better to wait until kids are emotionally ready came from.

When/where/how did society in general get the idea that emotions have anything to do with potty training?

My thought was/is the change of expectations...we as adults expect that our children will ultimately use the toilet, as opposed to a diaper. Children don't have that expectation unless it is externally introduced - ie, a parent suggesting that when the child is older/ready, he/she will use the potty. "Big kids use the potty, and you'll be a big kid some day." "Mommy, wow, I'm a big kid now..." etc.

Is it possible that the idea of emotional involvement with pottying came from parents who were not gentle about it, and who simply said to their child on a date chosen by the parent that the child now needed to use the toilet? Is it possible that, no matter how gently the parent tries to encourage use of the potty, the child gets frustrated because he/she knows that the parent's expectation has changed, and the child feels unable to meet that expectation? And that's where the idea of waiting til a child is emotionally ready came from?

I feel like I'm not explaining myself very well...
post #10 of 27
This is a really interesting discussion.

I personally think that potty training has more to do with supporting a child in their process of recognizing their own internal cues that they have to eliminate versus just using the potty like a big kid. If you notice, most kids say "I have to pee", not "I need to use the potty". Then the parent or caregiver takes them to the potty.

It seems to me that this what we're doing with EC. Our babies are not telling us they need to use the potty, they "tell" us they need to eliminate and we take them to the place we want them to eliminate. Or, they communicate with us and we "train" them to go in the potty/sink/bush/not the diaper.

The real difference to me is the mixed messages that long term diapering sends. I think most parents really do it because a)it's the cultural norm and b)they don't realize that their child can communicate these needs before they are verbal. I know I never did with my first.
post #11 of 27
I know that I was AMAZED at how aware DS is of his elimination needs. Sometimes he just goes in the diaper without seeming to signal, but about as often he will fuss or signal to me somehow that he needs to go. I think that people practicing traditional potty training methods do not usually realize that babies are aware of this, because by the time they try to potty train, their children have lost this awareness (ie. they first trained their babies to use the diaper) and they see how difficult it is to RE-train their children *not* to use diapers.

My sister was very concerned about this when I first told her about EC, I think they talk about early "potty training" in books about potty training as though it is psychologically damaging with no distinction between different methods (but they're clearly referring to the punative method). Now, she has seen EC in action, though, and I need to see how/if her perspective has changed. I don't *think* she'll try it on her new babe this fall, but who knows...
post #12 of 27
as a kid, i had potty anxiety--so i think it can have an impact. eventually, i taught myself--but it was later than others. my mother said they tried to PT me, i was anxious about it, they backed off completely, and a few months later i simply started using the potty.

EC makes sense to me because it doesn't make sense that a eprson would 'want' to sit in their feces or that they would be 'emotionally unprepared' for not sitting in their feces.

i feel that babies want to be clean and free of their feces--as any aware human does and human babies are aware--and so they do communicate this desire/need, but need help in making certain that they are aided in keeping clean of their feces.

problem is, most people are too busy to listen. so in a sense, they're coerced into sitting in their feces for 2-3 years, and then they're coerced into not sitting in their feces when they're PT. i would say it's a huge miscommunication that causes all the emotional stuff. "you said i was supposed to sit in my feces for the last two-three years, and now you're telling me it's wrong to sit in my feces? i'm confused" which comes out as WAH!!!!!! WAH!!!!! and WAHHHH!!!


so, yeah, EC makes sense.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird
"you said i was supposed to sit in my feces for the last two-three years, and now you're telling me it's wrong to sit in my feces? i'm confused" which comes out as WAH!!!!!! WAH!!!!! and WAHHHH!!!
: A 3 year old who has spent their ENTIRE life in diapers and then is expected to automatically change, it's a HUGE change, if you think about it.

That is why I have always used EC with my babies. All used the toilet by themselves as soon as they could get on it themselves.
In many Tribal areas, you will find that as soon as a baby can walk away from where food is prepared, they do so, as no one likes to eat where they have just eliminated waste, kwim?
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJamie
Is it possible that the idea of emotional involvement with pottying came from parents who were not gentle about it, and who simply said to their child on a date chosen by the parent that the child now needed to use the toilet? Is it possible that, no matter how gently the parent tries to encourage use of the potty, the child gets frustrated because he/she knows that the parent's expectation has changed, and the child feels unable to meet that expectation? And that's where the idea of waiting til a child is emotionally ready came from?
Personally, I think it came from the Pamper's people, what better way to make money than to tell parents their child will be traumatized if they take their Pampers away before they are ready.
post #15 of 27
some would be OK training early like that . no problem.

other's would not

and Mainsteam people it would be cruel, cause they'd be hitting or yelling at their kids for making 'mistakes', so that'd be a bad thing.

gentle parenting. you could teach early. IF your child is ready. yours sounds ready.

i always try around 18 months, 24 months, and 2 1/2 yrs old..........

and mine have NEVER been ready until 2 1/2 yrs.

but, mine dont do a lot of talking until 2 yrs eitehr.
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepies
IF your child is ready.
IME, a child is ALWAYS ready to use the toilet as a place to eliminate waste. Just like a child is always ready to use Pampers or cloth diapers or what have you. They are born with the ability to eliminate waste. No need to be able to speak about it. It is up to the parent to teach their child the proper place to eliminate their waste, and if it's in a diaper, then, yes, it will be a huge transition when the parent decides it's time to eliminate elsewhere.
post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird
as a kid, i had potty anxiety--so i think it can have an impact. eventually, i taught myself--but it was later than others. my mother said they tried to PT me, i was anxious about it, they backed off completely, and a few months later i simply started using the potty.

EC makes sense to me because it doesn't make sense that a eprson would 'want' to sit in their feces or that they would be 'emotionally unprepared' for not sitting in their feces.

i feel that babies want to be clean and free of their feces--as any aware human does and human babies are aware--and so they do communicate this desire/need, but need help in making certain that they are aided in keeping clean of their feces.

problem is, most people are too busy to listen. so in a sense, they're coerced into sitting in their feces for 2-3 years, and then they're coerced into not sitting in their feces when they're PT. i would say it's a huge miscommunication that causes all the emotional stuff. "you said i was supposed to sit in my feces for the last two-three years, and now you're telling me it's wrong to sit in my feces? i'm confused" which comes out as WAH!!!!!! WAH!!!!! and WAHHHH!!!


so, yeah, EC makes sense.
YES!!!! This is EXACTLY my thought on it!!! The change of expectations causes the confusion, leading to emotional backlash.
post #18 of 27
This thread got me thinking about the origin of the link between potty-using and emotional state. I'm not a historian, but from my understanding in early 20th century US, when the only available form of diapers were cloth, many parents did put babies on the potty (probably not in a baby/cue-led fashion). Washing cloth was time consuming and costly, so there was quite an incentive to catch pees and poos. I think that this sort of practice may have led to a forced 'potty-training' of babies that sadly could easily involve coercion or punitive measures out of a parental drive to save money or resources. Then along come disposable diapers, culture forgets that babies can be dry and clean, but somehow the association between early potty training and negative emotional consequences remains.

I have a friend with an AP'd 4 yo who is totally struggling with the change of expectations in potty learning right now. He refuses to potty himself, even though he knows how and can. He admits that he likes the closeness of mom changing him and doesn't want to give up the ritual. My poor friend feels stuck because she does not want to use bribery or coercion. This 4yo boy has watched me EC my 9month old and is most interested. Doesn't seem to motivate him though.
post #19 of 27
I wonder how many of those people who were telling you that early potty training done with attention to your child's responses and signals is "horrible child abuse" have no problem with the idea of letting their child cry themselves to sleep in the interests of "sleep training"?

Incidentally, you might find www.diaperfreebaby.org very interesting.
post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan
I wonder how many of those people who were telling you that early potty training done with attention to your child's responses and signals is "horrible child abuse" have no problem with the idea of letting their child cry themselves to sleep in the interests of "sleep training"?

Incidentally, you might find www.diaperfreebaby.org very interesting.
Oh, all of them - I was actually banned from that site for saying that CIO should be considered child abuse. Good thing I have the ability to create a new email address and have a dynamic IP address - someone's gotta be the voice of reason, even when it falls on deaf ears.
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