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Elimination Communication: Holding Power and Indignation

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Nom nom nom, surfboards taste good!

Nom nom nom, surfboards taste so good!

Potty talk never gets old… We’ve been having lots of EC fun over the past few weeks 🙂

Holding Power

I’m not sure when you stop calling it Elimination Communication (EC) or when it’s just a kid who has been potty trained… But, anyway, Margo has been out of diapers, day and night, since she was 14 months old, and I’ve been doing EC with her practically from day one.  In a sense, she has been ‘potty trained’ for about two years now, although, even before she was technically out of diapers, she was still not ‘fully in diapers’ either, as most of the time, I would take her to the toilet anyway when she was a baby.  Recently, she has really been testing her toilet autonomy in a very funny and peculiar way.

You see, this kid can really hold her pee.  I mean, she can hold it for, like, 10, 11 sometimes even 12 hours at night.  And, when she wakes up, it’s not like she’s busting to go to the loo.  Even after waking, she can just casually hang around for sometime before she tells me that she has to go.  Sometimes I even have to make her go because I can tell she’s holding it and being really uncomfortable.  She does the ‘holding until it’s uncomfortable’ thing a lot these days.  I can see she has to go and I laugh because I can even see her dancing…

But, IF I ask her if she has to go, the quick answer is ‘NO’!  (Actually, the answer to lots of things I ask her these days are ‘NO’… goes with the three year old territory).  So, we’ve had quite a few undie changes the past few weeks because of this ‘holding until it’s uncomfortable’ thing.  She just lets out a tiny tiny bit, (because she has to go so bad), then says, ‘Mom, I did a wee in my undies!’.  Sometimes then she will let me take her… and sometimes, she says, ‘Oh, I feel better now, I don’t have to go anymore!’  (agh!)  And then, she’ll ask if she can put one of Goldie’s cloth diapers on!?  She doesn’t actually go in them, just wants to wear them around for fun.

I don’t push her too much, because I know that what she’s doing right now has nothing really to do with a ‘potty regression’, or whatever you might want to call it.  I really believe she’s just testing the waters.

She likes to have fun by trying on her cloth diapers.  She also likes to play with the one and only bottle that we have in the house, that came with the breast pump that I hardly ever use, and she asks me to put rice milk in it.  Although it’s a little annoying to stop what I’m doing and put  a ‘play’ diaper or fill a ‘fake’ bottle, I do it anyway, because I know that it’s Margo’s way of playing.  She has been to daycare, so has certainly seen many of her peers wearing diapers and drinking from bottles… so I have no problem letting her play in that way.

Little Ma'am

Little Ma’am


As if Margo’s potty adventure isn’t enough, we’ve got 8 month old Goldie’s ECing too.  Goldie has been on a bit of ‘potty strike’ over the past few weeks.  The #2s are, making into the big toilet (hooray!), but the #1s are hit or miss sometimes.  It’s actually much better at night time!  I catch almost everything at night.  It’s not really a potty strike…  I’m just calling it that.  The potty strike is also Goldie exercising her holding power and her autonomy.  There’s also a bit of indignation going on too… especially when I put a diaper on her AFTER I have taken her to the toilet!  Man, does she hate that!

I think that every baby, after they turn about 6 months old, must go on a universal, ‘laying down to be changed strike‘.  The squirming, complaining, sometime even crying.  So, you put a new mobile over their change table, distract them with a toy, etc.  It’s quite a hassle.  I don’t always put a diaper on Goldie at home.  I’m quite happy to let her cruise around bare bottomed or in big girl undies. We have mostly tile, so a little puddle is easy to clean up.  I know that some people who do EC don’t put a diaper on their babies EVER!  But, if I’m going out, I put a diaper on her.  Or, if I have to hand her over to Art… his policy is, ‘No diaper, no baby‘.

Not only does she complain loudly when I put a diaper on her, but she also SEVERELY complains if I take her to go and she doesn’t have to go!  She arches her back, or tries to blast off the potty, or will even YELL at me and screw up her face so much that she gets a big bump over her third eye (I call it her little angry spot).  Then, there’s the triple chin of indignation (as my friend Meggan calls it, she has an awesome blog too, Megganmamma).  It’s when she doesn’t have to go and you hold them over the sink or whatever and they do the whole back arching and drop their chin to their chest in protest.  It’s so cute, actually.

Sometimes… and I get this a lot from people who are also doing EC… you take them to the loo, they do this big ol’ protest and won’t go, and then… two seconds later, there is a puddle on the floor.  Or, they go in their diaper and then you change them and they really scream at you.  I guess this is what you might call a ‘potty strike’.  But, to me, this is just normal EC behavior.  Maybe it’s the baby exercising his or her holding power!  Also, if they’re grumpy, or were just in the middle of playing,,, or woke up from a nap you took them too suddenly,,, or something like a big sister comes and distracts them,,, then, yes, the ‘potty strike’ can happen then too. Timing is everything…

Back of the car ECing

Back of the car ECing

Puddles I Can Deal With

Even if we miss a lot of wees this way, with the potty strikes, I know that it’s not about catching every single puddle.  Practicing EC with a child is simply about building awareness.  It’s important to see the bigger picture of EC and to see that it’s an ever changing communication between you and the child.  Even though Margo is having her little ‘holding power’ episode, I know that it’s only a developmental thing and I think is very normal for a child her age.  Also, Goldie’s ‘potty strike’, is very similar to what Margo went through at that age, so I’m not worried in the least.  For me, it’s not about how early I can potty train a baby, or anything like that.  I just really love EC because, I see that the overlaying principal, that applies to both the child and myself.  It’s the idea of building trust, communication and confidence between a child and the carer, with the possible bonus of early toilet training 🙂

6 Responses »

  1. I just posted about my little man’s EC hiatus! I know it is totally normal, but I still have a big ? on my forehead! I think that with nicer weather on the way, we will just have to say “buh-bye” to diapers while at home and outside & his potty will have to join us in our play. 😉 His resistance has been killing me! I am looking forward to following your adventures with two little ones! -Lauren

    • Oh yes.. the resistance! Haha! I think it happens to every EC kid I’ve ever heard of in the western world. I wonder if it doesn’t happen in countries where the kids never wear diapers? I feel like my girls get grumpy with me because I’m taking them to the loo, and then whack a diaper back on them, and they look at me as if to say, ‘Hey, man, what the heck, can’t I have a little bit of trust here!?’… oh… sorry dears… I just don’t want to be changing the sheets in the middle of the night in case I miss something. How old is your little one?

      • Oliver is almost 10 months. He is becoming very comfortable in his mobility and will be walking in the next month, I suspect. I know that this new found independence has a lot to do with it.

      • Yes! Absolutely, the mobility has a lot to do with it! Life’s too exiting now! My first was pretty happy to sit on the potty, but my second is more active and I find that if I sort of hold her over in the squatting position to go, that helps her to sit still. I even sit behind her on the toilet for the #2s, works a charm 🙂 also, if she even shows the slightest bit that she’s going to arch her back or doesn’t have to go, I usually just let it go and try again later.

  2. Hi, I have started EC with my 8 week old after reading ur blog. M in India, and my parents (and my gen from small cities too) always took us to sink from the day 1 for number 1 and in plastic potty since I was 3 mon. But I got tempted to trt only aftee I read ur story. May b its one of those things where we reject old gen, till someone from our age explains in our lingo. My problem now is, there mostly are misses, and not more than thrice am I able to catch it. Thats discouraging me. Mom advised to trt every hour by clock. Will tht work? But then its nt EC, its training/habit by clock. And do u wash baby’s bottom everytime she does it in sink? My mom in law asked me to. Thats lot of work every 30 min if u catch all of them.

    • It’s funny, isn’t it, how the younger generation is taught that the things our parents and grandparents did were time consuming and a waste.. but the ‘modern’ way of doing it is so crazy! Yes, just keep doing what you’re doing, it will work itself out. You won’t catch everything, but if you’re persistent, it will all work itself out very soon 🙂 Have you had any improvements since you started a few days ago?


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