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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 14 mo DD is refusing to use her potty and we don't know how to turn things around!

We started practicing EC when she was 2 mo and we had marginal success. We could reliably have catches after naps, and even sometimes during the day we would understand her signals and get her on the potty in time. She seemed to understand how the potty worked, and appreciated going in it over her diaper.

Now she is 14 mo and a very active toddler. Her poops have been a bit softer, which means they come out without much effort. This is where we first started noticing a problem because we couldn't catch poops anymore, which used to be pretty reliable.

We started having more and more misses, until it got to the point where we hardly had any catches at all. She now hates sitting on the potty, neither the big one with her seat insert, or her small potty. She fusses as soon as we try to even pull her pants down to put her on it. However, she will often go pee right after so we know our timing isn't off. It seems as though she doesn't want to stop what she's doing to go potty, and she hates being stuck on the potty without the freedom to walk around. Now she just pees where ever she is standing, without any warning at all.

My DH and I our at our wits end. We don't know what to do, or where we have gone wrong. We use cloth diapers and she is going to grow out of them soon. We want her to be reliably dry so we don't have to invest in bigger diapers. Last week I discovered a poop in her diaper that she didn't tell me about, which really concerned me. I don't want her to get used to going in her diapers, but I'm scared that is exactly what is happening.

This week we tried taking the diapers away and putting her just in panties or going commando in pants. We've also tried putting the small potty in the living room to make it more accessible. So far it has been miss after miss, almost always right after we put her on the potty and she screams to get off it. We are trying to not get frustrated, but it's been very difficult keeping a calm head when she keeps peeing on the floor right after refusing to go on the potty.

She still pees on the potty after her nap, our only catch of the day. I think we only have success at that time because she is so tired still that she just gives in. We could really use some advice to turn things around, because we really don't want her to get used to diapers. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for listening.
 

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Bring the potty to her? Set up a table in the bathroom and take the toys to the bathroom with her?

Also, if there's a miss, she should be helping with clean-up. Even if it's just that her toys have to go up out of the way for a bit until the clean-up is done. Something that takes longer than peeing in the potty.
 

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Take a deep breath, Mama.

This sounds like a potty strike. Many children have them at different ages. Often because they really just have better things to do.... places to be.... new learning things to focus their particular attention on. Especially now, either just started or will soon start walking. And exploring her now hugely accessible world. She has already accomplished this potty thing, so it isn't that interesting anymore. :)

I don't have one specific suggestion (there are many things to try).

But, you should take the pressure off - yourselves and her.

What is important is that you don't see this as a big failure of everything you have done and she has accomplished in ECing. Your child already knows how to use the potty. She will use it again, maybe even soon. In the meantime, take yourself back to the basics of EC:

Elimination Communication.

This was always about the process of communicating with your child, right? You have obviously done a marvellous job of it. The end result is not the goal here. Little (or bigger) "mishaps" are not a problem and are okay. In fact, you could communicate with her through every day about her pee and poo and feelings, and she might still poo in her pants - that would still be successful ECing. Even not catching a single pee or poo is still a success if the communication is positive and reinforcing her communication with you.

Something to think about: have you stopped talking with her about wetness, dryness, feeling pressure to pee or poo, etc? If a child is so proficient at ECing, we sometimes forget that it is still important to keep communicating. Maybe something surprising will come out. On occasion something very surprising, in fact. It may or may not be related to her not using the potty. It may or may not have to do with something that concerns her on (or inside) her body.

However, by continuing the communication, you have a better idea of finding out what is going on.... and if nothing in particular is going on, to support her at the moment until she is back to remaining mainly dry.

I think that you will get there if you go back to basics. Your child can communicate with you - let her. I also think that signing (if you don't yet, or if you did but stopped) is an effective way for a child to communicate about these things when they can't or won't in words. Something to try.

Ultimately, don't feel that this is a failure or that she has somehow "regressed". That would be the worst thing you could assume. She still knows everything you have taught her and that she does, instinctively anyway. She has not lost it. She just is not giving you the "end product" that you hope for right now. She will again, I am fairly certain in saying. :)

I also suggest letting go of the wish to not buy bigger cloth diapers - this will just put pressure on everyone. Underwear is a good idea - there are padded cloth underwear that catch some drops but still feel wet that are good transitions. However, it is okay if she wears some diapers for a while. The talking should continue no matter what you have her in. Going mainly bare bummed at home or in the warm weather is another way to go. When she is not moving around a lot, have her on a padded blanket in the nude inside or outside.

You can also take her to pick out a new "big girl" special potty for herself that makes it new and interesting again. If this helps, go for it. It may for some children.

Role playing with dolls or stuffies or puppets is another way to find out via communication if you think here is something more going on. Role play that Mr. Bear is wetting his new shorts whenever he goes to grandma's or at daycare, and then role play that Mr. Snake is the daycare teacher (or mama) and is saying, oh my how wet you feel.... those kinds of things. See how she responds and what her character does. She will definitely take it in. It may take days or weeks to process, though.

Above all, be patient. You have done well. Nothing is going backwards. Keep supporting being and staying dry and how it feels to be wet and dry. Support your child's developmental phases she is going through, too.

I just note: I don't total agree that telling her to clean it up is the right approach. I don't think it is wrong for a child to help out, but it feels more like a consequence here rather than a solution. It might be something more appropriate for an older child, in my humble opinion. I doubt that this change you have shared is a sign that your child is demonstrating a behaviour of active or passive resistance. It is always possible that that could happen, but it is not what you are describing. I think it is something else, or just plain old development. :)

Good luck and let us know how it is going in a little while!

ETA: Oh, and I just reread your post - the screaming when going on the potty: don't underestimate how sensitive your child is to your own emotions. She likely is sensing very well how frustrated and tense you are about the whole thing, every time you put her on the potty (except when half asleep). This is putting pressure on her and may make the whole experience be even more negatively associated in her mind in the future. I would suggest never putting or keeping a screaming (or upset) child on the potty if they are making it clear that they do not want to be on it. Better they be naked on the floor until the do their thing. At least they are with you and know they are loved and supported and not doing "something wrong". :)
 

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I can't think of anything more to add to what Oceanspray said - she pretty much nailed it =)

You can try doing a search for "EC potty pause" if you need more ideas or support (there's some great EC groups on Facebook) but the basic idea is to relax, not worry that this is the end of EC (because nearly every ECer deals with this with busy, mobile toddlers), and make pottying as easy as possible for both of you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks everyone for you advice. In these past few days we purchased a bunch of panties and decided to keep her in them most of the time. I've been trying to talk to her about everything more. I realize now that we had stopped communicating about it, about being wet, dry, going, etc. We've also tried to relax a bit more. It's really encouraging to be reminded that we are still moving forward, and that she does know what the potty is for. When she started walking she seemed too busy doing other things to go potty, but things do seem to be coming around again, slowly. The more we talk about it the more she's been communicating needing to go, or that she is wet.

I realize now that I had made some unrealistic expectations for ECing when she was a newborn. I assumed she would be pretty much potty independent by 1 year, which now I realize was an unrealistic goal for us. I think I've been adding more pressure on myself (and her) since she hit the 1 year mark and I forgot to let go and focus on the communication, not the end results. This week I've been telling myself that she will get there eventually, and I know she won't be a 3 year old in diapers, which is was always a big motivation for us.
I had forgotten that ECing is about communication above all else.

I have taken the advice of getting her to help me clean. It actually helps me be less frustrated by it, and it also stops her from getting to pee on the floor and take off while I clean up her mess in a grumpy huff. She's at the stage now where she is mimicking what I do, so she readily "helps" clean when I ask her too. It also really encourages me to talk about what just happened, instead of just getting frustrated like I used to. I will be careful to make sure it doesn't become a punishment.
I've been taking her teddy bear to the potty, but now I'm going to try talking about the teddy being wet. Perhaps I will put some shorts on the teddy to simulate panties. I've also introduced colourful "big-girl panties" that she is all excited about so hopefully that will also help us get back on track.

I think above all what I really needed was a reminder to relax, and focus on the communication, not the results. Thanks again for all the support and good advice!
 

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It sounds as if you have it all in hand and are on the right track. It also sounds like she is, too, and is motivated by your motivation. I think that is wonderful - that is the best progress you could see. I can just visualise you and she, on the bathroom floor, cleaning up the pee together while she chats away at her bear and shows off her new undies. What better mama-daughter time could there be...? :)

All the best in keeping it positive, and thanks for checking in with us!
 

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Most babies aren't potty independent until 2 yrs or so (and often with a long potty pause between a year and 2 yrs), so she it totally on track :thumb

We had potties all over once the kids could walk - if they see them around, they're more likely to use them (though you have to keep an eye out for full potties)
 

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I just note: I don't total agree that telling her to clean it up is the right approach. I don't think it is wrong for a child to help out, but it feels more like a consequence here rather than a solution. It might be something more appropriate for an older child, in my humble opinion. I doubt that this change you have shared is a sign that your child is demonstrating a behaviour of active or passive resistance. It is always possible that that could happen, but it is not what you are describing. I think it is something else, or just plain old development. :)
Sorry, was I not clear? I don't think I said to tell her to clean it up, I said to have her help. E.g. "Move over there sweetie, while mommy wipes this up, no, I'm sorry you can't have the toys until the floor is clear". Basically, peeing on the floor isn't a magical way to not have to stop playing.
 
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