Month 24: Potty Fairness
As with all basic skills potty-ing will be mastered just as seamlessly as crawling and babble turn into walking and talking. You just don’t know exactly when. We are so focused on it because the culture is hyper-diaper centered that it becomes this out of proportion Creature instead of the natural, easy skill it really is.
Though, we do have to be realistic and fair.
The EC community is very, very clear about no coercion, no punishments, no bribery, etc. And rightly so! It is very important not to put a specific end-date or end-goal onto the process. Absolutely, it is true that being goal orientated becomes the wrong approach and sets up wrong behaviors and expectations. However, it seems that sometimes this gets in the way of the rightful knowledge that there is an end.
And then you have the other end of the spectrum. Thinking that babies and toddlers are passive participants without the ability to be aware of their own daily bodily functions or the capacity to learn how to deal with it.
Babies are exquisitely designed for the natural world where they would be free to pound rocks, pull grass, crush leaves, throw dirt, break branches, and do their business beside a bush or perhaps a communal dirt latrine. They are not expecting to find books they can’t crush, figurines they can’t pound, objects they can’t throw, ground beneath their feet they can’t soil, a latrine taller than they are, and clothes complete with confounding fastener contraptions.
Diaper Company advertisements aside, I am convinced that the trend of waiting so long is rising also because there is this idea that a child must master MODERN inventions in order to potty successfully. That is not really fair.
Babies were able to master the simple daily act of elimination without needing to manipulate pants, buttons, snaps, or zippers. Their toilet was ground level requiring only the skill to get there and the ability to squat not walk. No more skill than a kitten needs and we expect wobbily kittens to mimic their mothers and litter train as soon as they can move around pretty well–as long as the box is low.
Diapers, unfortunately, discourage showing babies and toddlers from an early age where to go and how to get there themselves or with help.
There is a big difference between being potty aware, potty learned, potty independent, and toilet independent and I don’t think that is addressed anywhere.
- Babies are potty aware but are unable to do anything about it on their own, just as they know how to suckle but can not get food on their own.
- Crawlers and pre-walkers can be potty learned. They are aware, have developed some control, know where potty places are if shown and ask for help. Very much like their control of solid food if baby led weaned, for example.
- Walkers can be potty independent. They are aware, have good to mastered control, know the potty place and can get to it themselves IF they are set up for success in the modern environment (low potty chairs, minimal easy clothing or none) and have already been shown and modeled proper potty practices. They can ask for help if they want, but won’t need to if no modern “convenience” hinders them. This is much like them learning language. They are compelled to mimic.
- Older children become toilet independent at various ages. It really depends on their fine motor control development and size, the types of clothes they usually wear, and the height of the items in the bathroom. They must be coordinated enough to handle the fasteners on their own clothing, handle two layers of clothing (undergarments and outer garments), and tall enough to get onto the toilet on their own with or without a stool and reach the sink to wash their hands.
Late trainers still need to go through the same stages, only they have to un-teach diaper use at the same time.
Being toilet independent is not a fair benchmark or endpoint whether you start early or late. It does a great disservice to the abilities of toddlers under 2 and babies under 1 because they can do so much more than they are given credit for because the bar is set in the wrong place. . It would be like trying to measure someone’s basic knowledge of anything by giving them a test in language other than their own. We expect toddlers to master our language before they learn to master their own pee!?
I’m not trying to be mean about diapers. But the beast has a nature. Let’s be fair about that. If you’ve diapered exclusively at any time, how often did you show and demonstrate and encourage accepted and proper bathroom habits to the diapered little one before deciding to potty train one day? Manners (please, thank you) get more rapt focus than the word toilet!
I can say that the end of the potty process is earlier than expected when the bar is placed back in its proper position, and anything after than is an additional MODERN skill. Take away the “extras” and the artificial delays diapers impose and you begin to see just how capable babies and toddlers are and just how quickly they learn to put their waste where they are taught.; and the pressure is lifted. Wet pants at times become no more of a worry or thought than a toddler who falls down several times when learning to walk and run.
That alone changes the choices and resulting decisions.
I think it is important to consider our modern lives when we make decisions about the potty process (or anything we encourage or discourage our babes to do). We live in this world, true, yet babies are the same. We have property we want to protect but also an obligation to our little ones. It is very easy to let the anxiety about the carpet, for example, put off what needs to be done or take options off the table. Diapers are the easiest way to save the carpet,yes, but what would we do to save the carpet if they did not exist? If we work, how would we handle things if there were no diapers or they did not fit past age 1 (or how did our working ancestors do it?).
If we do make the conscious choice to use diapers, are we well aware of consequences that may come with that decision later or aware of ways to reduce issues? I know I wouldn’t have been wise to any possible problems or solutions because no one tells you! The diaper industry is no help…they just make them prettier and more absorbent.
How is this for a thought about how diapers shape our world. In Japan, houses have a “genkan” an area to remove shoes before you step onto the clean home floor. The US and UK have no such thing universal to homes, yet it quite a sensible way to keep dirt out of the house. Would any modern family home come equipped with carpet in the living and central family areas IF diapers did not exist or were used only for infants and not for toddlers at all? Would there be available a standard carpet protector for families to buy as easily as they buy anything else?
Posted on October 9, 2011, in Parenting, Potty Training, Toddlers and tagged diaper free, ec, elimination communication, month-24, natural infant hygiene, nih, potty learning, potty training. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.