Month 23: Three Day Weekend Pottying (EC in Disguise?)
Posted by eliminationcommunication
I want to discuss this “Boot Camp” style method which uses a lot of EC practices and in a few areas that I feel it falls short with old ideas. Say Elimination Communication and people tend to wail, “so hard, no time, parent training,” but tend to be amiable to this method. Fascinating! The 3 day method, in my observation, is most definitely Parent Behavior Modification. After all, toddlers don’t diaper themselves!
This is not an EC friendly culture. It is diaper and pull-up dependent. Only a small number of people and old grannies know that the under two crowd are more that capable of using a potty or toilet. So when I saw that the 3 day/weekend method has a starting age of 15 months (particularly Julie Fellom’s Diaper Free for Toddlers program) I raised an eyebrow.
The 3-Day method has had a resurgence recently because, let’s face it — Brazelton’s “readiness” scale has caused a lot of tears, power struggles, bowel withholding, strong diaper attachment, and has worsened night wetting issues. The 3 day method is not new, it is at least almost 40 years old!
“Readiness” is a crock. Sorry. Babies are born ready, it’s the parents who have been convinced that they aren’t ready or that starting ASAP is too time consuming or psychologically damaging (Say what!? Going to the bathroom is a trauma?). The average age for children to be potty trained has risen from 18 months to 2-2.5 to 3-4 and rising! What has happened that this generation of parents think diapering for 3-4 years IS NOT time consuming? And being rid of diapers by 2.5 or earlier is? Head hurt? Mine does. (This blogger ponders: Who decides when to train, you, baby or Big Diaper? and What caused the shift? This blogger LovingEarthMama pondered between EC, 3 day pottying, and conventional training)
How is the Weekend Method Like EC?
- 100% Parental commitment and dedication needed –parent must be attentive to the need, look for it, and acknowledge to reinforce. ECers do not watch their babies like hawks 24/7, it is more relaxed than that. However,when just starting out you do have to be extra tuned and pay extra attention.
- 100% Parental assistance needed – parent must provide demonstration, and help to use the toilet and potty until the tot can take over. ECers just do this from the start, even the part-timers.
- 100% Bare bottomed, no diapers at home – full time EC also works best bare (though trainers also are used especially for outings). Bare bottomed is often the remedy for EC accidents. Some ECers (the part timers in particular) do use diapers, and there is a definite difference in potty successes with diapers and bare bottomed. The more diapers are used the harder the process.
- No treats or Bribery — going to the bathroom is praised but one should not have to be “paid” to “go”. ECers praise, but it is more uncontained excitement while the 3 day method uses it deliberately to get the tots excited about the change.
- Diapers/trainers for naps and night only — but like EC naked on a wee pad is best, reliance on diapers prolongs the process especially for diapered tots.
- Multiple potty chairs — at least 2, sometimes more if you have multiple floors or bathrooms. Opportunity should not be hindered by lack of receptacle. An advantage to starting in infancy like many ECers is that the receptacle choices are much more flexible.
- Be prepared — clean-up towels, receptacle for wets, travel potty/adapter and easy loose pants for outings. Small pad for the car seat. Even ECers have accidents when starting and have these supplies on hand. Public toilets are not child friendly and often not adult friendly, so the more comfortable you can make it the better. Women are used to scoping out the best bathrooms, but men may need some education on that!
- Winter Accomodations — leg warmers like Babylegs or knee socks. ECers may also use split crotch pants. Long shirts and dresses are useful. Onesies can be left unsnapped but generally aren’t diaper free friendly.
- Demonstration – A few weeks before beginning show how to use the potty by taking the tot with you (both parents) when you go and encourage older siblings and grandparents to do the same. The toddler should see and hear the whole process from pants to flush to hand washing. ECers do this demonstration from the moment they begin even with in arms infants. It is a big part of the process.
- Ban the Diapers – A week or two before starting explain that once the bag/box is empty of diapers there will be no more and he/she will be naked/bare bottomed. Toddlers are natural nudists. Naked toddler bums are quite common in the EC community even among the part-timers. Even ECers have difficulty letting go of the diaper crutch.
- Disapproval is not Punishment – Accidents should be met with normal unhappiness and matter of fact, “Pee/Poop goes in the potty. Let’s clean up.” Absolutely no shaming. ECers agree and are very adamant that punitive, shaming, or “mean” measures are a no-no.
- Timing/Cueing -- Take the tot to the bathroom before naps, night bedtime and before outings. You want to establish a connection between pottying when you ask and an activity. This is a subtle form of the obvious cueing that ECers use. ECers use timing much more generously until babies and toddlers are able to signal consistently. Though many ECers do not night potty, those who don’t find that it is the night time that they struggle with because they’ve come to rely on diapers. Try to avoid diapers at night.
- Set up Outings for Success – Go out right after a good pee, keep it short if you can, and bring a change of clothes and a travel potty or seat adapter. Even ECers get apprehensive the first time they go out without a diaper and just pants. The important thing is to be prepared. Training pants are discouraged with the 3 day because they may feel too much like diapers on a toddler who has been 100% diapered, this is not always the case with a part-time EC’d baby or with thinner trainers. It all depends on how much of a “potty cue” a diaper has been. A baby who hold pee until they have on a diaper, for example, should not wear even trainers for the Weekend method. Don’t be afraid to let the fountain flow and catch the mess. The diaper is your enemy in this instance.
Where the Methods Fall Short (too influenced by “readiness” conventinal methods)
Advocates “Signs of Readiness” – Parents are advised that a sign of readiness is staying dry for two or more hours at a time. This is a pitfall. For many children, when they have a diaper on they “go” because the diaper is their “cue”. It becomes a reflex. They may not develop the control to hold it for a long time because they haven’t had to used those muscles extensively. A child who seems to go frequently in a diaper may also hold it for hours without one. So “dryness” is not a reliable sign. If instead one sees that a child has been born ready, and it is the parents who have been directing then there is no need to wait for signs that may not appear until after age 3. Another apparent sign is pooping at regular time. A lot of toddlers do poop on a schedule, but many others are haphazard. They may develop a routine after pottying begins, however.
Advocates for Junk and Juice — Generous amounts of, juice water and salty snacks to induce urination for the three day starter – Juice is liquid sugar and there is no need to create a junk food habit. Not healthy or comfortable! A toddler drinking adequate fluids of water, breastmilk, or milk will pee more than enough. If you end up having to pee uncomfortably it won’t put you in a good mood! High water fruit like watermelon is okay, but stay away from juice. Too much sugar can cause bowel issues.
Three month follow up — The weekend/3 day method says that the next three months continue the process the same and add longer outings (then it isn’t 3 days now is it?). I am also not sure why the 3 month tag is used when they really should be emphasizing from here on out, this is the new daily life routine. Mass appeal maybe (people want a quick fix)? No diapers for as long as it takes and underpants only when the particular child is not compelled to potty in them. I think parents want an “end point” and truly there isn’t a defined one. It’s a practice that must be continued until the child becomes more and more independent. The likely hood is that the child will have ups and downs for at least 6 months to a year requiring parental help. The 3 days in the beginning is a start up for the parents to change their behaviors to a life without diapers (pretty much what ECers do from the beginning).
Advocates just stopping if the weekend is less than 75% successful – This is unrealistic. The methods they are advocating are “parent behavior centered” as they should be. It is true that toddlers can catch on quick and take to the new routine. But others, especially ones who are diaper attached will take longer. Throwing in the towel is not helpful. This is even seen in the EC community where 4-5 accidents in a row have parents new to EC running for the diapers. This is a conventional potty training notion. Parents only need to be more patient and continue with the routine as a daily matter of routine. Parents must wean themselves from the diapers just as much as the tots! Change pants not diapers. Really, it is the parents who lose their cool and patience — the tots just need time to re-learn. The longer the process is pushed and the closer the child gets to age 2 the more difficult the process, and if not started by age 3 it is even more difficult.
Tied to the House — Three days house bound can be difficult with some and many, many people delay the potty process until they can get time off, both parents coordinate the same days off, single parents may not think it is possible, or families delay because of vacation, or commitments. This is discouraging and is not necessary. Yes, it is easiest to have containment, but it is not completely necessary. You can still go out and do things. Just be prepared for accidents and offer the SAME attentiveness and opportunities while you are out. There will never be a “perfect” time to start. The only thing delay gets is more troubles to deal with. This is why ECers tend to start in infancy. Babies are in arms and are easier to keep track of than a running tot. The earlier you start the BETTER. Though it has unique advantages , you don’t have to start in infancy but it is a good idea to at least start potty introductions at a year. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. With thoughtfulness you can even easily begin the process while on vacation. Using the bathroom is a daily thing that must be done everywhere in the appropriate place and there is no reason why children can’t be shown that.
Says it is okay due delay due to “cold” — I don’t know about every baby but it is hardest to keep the feet warm, not the core. Having a frosty butt is usually not an issue with a nice long dress or shirt with legwarmers. Split crotch pants are also useful. There is no reason to delay, unless it is snowing in your house.
Overall, I find this 3 day method a breath of fresh air. Jill Lekovic, MD’s Diaper Free Before Three also attempts to dispel thy myths of “waiting until they ask.” If only parents were encouraged to start even earlier! In any case, if you are using or going to use this or another 3 day/Weekend method then do also look to the EC community for encouragement and practical tips. There are ECers who started after 12 months and they will be the most valuable resource. Much success! And maybe for the next give EC a second look :) It costs nothing and …well, it can save a bundle in money and headaches!
Posted on August 29, 2011, in Parenting, Potty Training, Toddlers and tagged 3 day pottying, diaper free, ec, elimination communication, month-23, natural infant hygiene, nih, potty learning, potty training. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.