I’m often asked what’s the difference between Potty Training and Elimination Communication (EC).
As a mother who started ECing Baby in Provence (BiP) when she was 3 months old, I’ve never had first hand experience of traditional potty training as she decided a few months before her 2nd birthday that she wanted to wear no longer wanted to wear a nappy/diaper. Amusingly, her decision to stop wearing nappies was just as we were boarding a long haul flight and she was very determined to have her own way!
Before I get into the differences between Potty Training and Elimination Communication I’d like to start with the definitions:
What is Potty Training?
Toilet training, or potty training, is the process of training a young child to use the toilet for urination and defecation, though training may start with a smaller toilet bowl-shaped device (often known as a potty). Cultural factors play a large part in what age is deemed appropriate, with the expectation for being potty trained ranging from 12 months for some tribes in Africa to 36 months in the modern United States. – Wikipedia
What is Elimination Communication?
Elimination Communication (EC) is NOT potty training. It is a gentle, natural, non-coercive process by which a baby, preferably beginning in early infancy, learns with the loving assistance of parents and caregivers to communicate about and address his or her elimination needs. This practice makes conventional potty training unnecessary.- The Diaper Free Baby“
What’s the difference between Potty Training and Elimination Communication?
In short, Potty Training is about training the child whereas EC has nothing to do with training the child – it’s about training the parent to understand the child’s rhythms, cues and signs to help get them to a potty. EC is not about sitting around staring at your baby waiting for them to pee or poop! For more information on EC and our personal journey you can read all about it here.
Other differences between Potty Training and Elimination Communication include:
- Signs of the child’s readiness are important in Potty Training vs. with EC readiness isn’t even acknowledged.
- Some Potty Training methods have a reward scheme for the child who uses the potty vs. having little reaction to a child who goes to the potty with EC, as rewarding a normal bodily function is thought to be bizarre.
- Potty training is often treated as a mission – something to get done vs. EC which is a journey with your child.
What are the similarities between Potty Training and Elimination Communication?
Obviously there are a lot of similarities between Potty Training and Elimination Communication! Pee, poop, more pee and poop, and accidents!
Other similarities between Potty Training and Elimination Communication include:
Nappies/diapers – lots of them are used with both methods!
Equipment – both methods use Potty Training equipment; potties, steps, training underwear, cloth diapers etc – I did buy a fair amount of my potty training equipment from Tesco.
Mixed emotions – Potty Training and EC can frustrate you as a parent, at the same time you discover a level of joy about seeing a poop in a potty that you never knew was possible.
Criticism – no matter which method you chose to use you will be doing it wrong by someone – this does seem to come with the territory of being a parent!
Relief – Neither method lasts forever – eventually you will no longer have the need for nappies, you can carry a smaller bag and you’ll probably become an expert on the public toilet locations in your local area pretty quickly!
That’s a brief look at the differences (and similarities) between Potty Training and Elimination Communication.
What was your experience?
In Potty training it is not the bodily finction that is rewarded, but rather the self-awareness, and self control, as well as the asking for help when needed that is rewarded. These are all precursors to adult functioning and civic functioning, and pleasing a caregiver/parent, (belonging) as well as rewards (paychecks!) are how these are accomplished in the case of potty training. That said, I have no biases about which methods are used. It seems there is value in either way.