Ask the Expert: Potty Training 101 with The Potty Whisperer
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My husband gets so angry when my son has accidents in public, and he scolds our boy about them. What is the best way for parents to deal with too-frequent mishaps, and is scolding ever a good option? (I worry about shaming our child.)
A: Fathers in general seem to take a lead approach in the family and find it very normal, however your child is training and so is dad. I suggest you approach your husband at a time when he is calm, in a good mood and explain to him the training factor (time), and how children develop over a long period of time. Brain development continues until 25 years old (most researchers suggest 21), however children do what they see and learn from their most influential person in their lives and if scolding continues I believe your child may associate accidents, potty, and other activities he does not excel at in the moment with a negative experience, therefore contributing to a low self esteem which in return can lead to other problems in his development. When dealing with frequent accidents I suggest stay close to home for a period of time, get involved in your child’s daily life as much as possible and offer your child room to be a leader. Remember you are all in training and patience is key.
I was driving in an unfamiliar town when my 3-year-old told me he had to go poopy, but I was having trouble finding a place to take him. Do you have any tips for being prepared for such situations when traveling?
A: Traveling to unfamiliar places can be tricky when kids are involved. Today’s market offers us a number of solutions and if you like the eco approach I suggest eco-friendly bags that you can use to cover a potty chair in your car. When you are done using the potty, tie the bag and dispose it at your nearest opportunity. If eco-friendly is not in question I suggest the same approach except using your grocery bags over an inflatable on-the-go potty or over-a-potty chair.
You offer EC – Infant Potty Training. Like many parents, I have my doubts about this—how is it really possible for a baby as young as a couple of months old to understand cues from a parent?
A:We do offer EC or more widely known as Elimination Communication or Infant Potty Training, and soon our classes will be available in every city. Doubting is totally understandable, and I believe it is most likely because we are trained to believe that if we communicate most of the times using words to express our needs, feelings and desires everyone else needs to do the same in order to get along or meet their needs. The truth is we do not need to even open our mouth to get our needs met, and that is because all we need to use are our senses to communicate to other people around us. When it comes to training and infant how to potty, it is the other way around. The infants are teaching us how to read them and how to better meet their needs. It can be a lengthy process, however the insight and savings make it worth it many times over.
Do you think there is a benefit to a parent taking this approach to very early training?
A: In our experience and research for over 16 years with different groups of parents we came to believe that only a group of parents may benefit from this approach. However, we do recommend it to any new parent since there are different levels you can start at when it comes to EC, more widely known as Elimination Communication, or Infant Potty Training.
My friend has begun using the EC technique and has been hounding me to give it a try with my newborn, often making me feel guilty. I try to tell myself not to feel bad, but I’m already feeling like my child is “behind.” How should I respond to such pressure and feelings of inadequacy?
A: In reality no one can make you do or feel anything. It starts with you and what you allow yourself to think, be, or do. I also believe that every single individual including our infants are unique and have different needs. The one to meet 99% of these needs is you, the parent, and if you are not secure enough, daring enough, or plain ready, I believe you are exactly where you need to be. All you may need to do at this point is work on/save your friendship if it really matters to you and your friend. Potty training, parenting, and family are an intimate affair and you are the one in charge of that.
What are your general thoughts about parents who are taking an EC approach with their babies and allowing them to sit bare-bottomed out in a public restaurant?
A: EC is a wonderful experience if taken and approached from the right angle. From my point of view that angle may look different, however if an approach can later in life shame or harm someone’s identity, or simply put “don’t do something to your child, you as a parent would not dare do yourself," my suggestion is cover the bottom up with a pair of mini underwear, a cute outfit and be prepared to change your child in a private place in the event that you as a parent were not in tune with your infant and an accident occurs.
Do you encourage parents to carry a small portable potty with them so their child can go at any time?
A: A small portable potty is ideal for traveling along with a bag that they can put over the potty when in use.
Any other comments on the phenomenon of potty training becoming too “public” these days?
A: One suggestion I have is check your city codes. Your city may fine you as much as $500 if you display an indecent conduct or you may even get arrested.
Do you think your services are more valuable to a parent of a child with special needs?
A: Our number one clientele tends to be children with special needs, however all clients display an equal desire to share the value and importance of using our approach to potty training with friends.
What advice do you have particularly for parents of children on the autism spectrum for toilet training a 5- or 6-year-old?
A: When training a child on the autism spectrum from scratch I can suggest two things:
- Begin with the end in mind, and remember that the end may be far away
- Routine, consistency, and patience may get you there sooner.