Starting Elimination Communication at 2 years old: Is EC age-appropriate for older toddlers?

elimination communication - Starting Elimination Communication at age 2: Is EC age-appropriate for older toddlers?Q: Hi Andrea, I hadn’t heard of EC until my son was about 12 months old. While I love the idea of it, I’ve only really had a couple of half hearted attempts at it. I intend to EC my next child, but I’d like to start with my son too. He’s now 2 years old, and actually tells me when he’s peeing/pooing. I think this should make it easier for us, but I find he resists when I hold him over the sink, potty or toilet. How can I help him to feel comfortable? ~Sara P., Perth, Western Australia @ Nourishingnewsroom.blogspot.com

A: Hey there Sara and son! I’m really happy that you asked this question and I do know plenty of folks who started Elimination Communication with a 2 year old or older.

HOWEVER…The problem is that EC is not developmentally appropriate for children of that age.

It is really best to practice EC within the age range of 0-18 months.

Toddlerhood is the age of mastery, and the best potty training solution for a toddler is something that is gentle, firm, and quick. Like ripping a bandaid off. Or turning a boat 180 degrees.

EC is not like ripping a bandaid off. It’s like unwinding a long, long strip of gauze off of a mummy. It takes time, patience, and gentle two-way communication.

So, you might end up still ECing a 39 month old. Which is not developmentally “okay.” We humans complete things and master things in life, all the time, especially the little toddlers. It’s healthiest to attain this mastery at a pace and age that is appropriate.

But, Sara, the COOLEST thing is that your son, at 2 years old, is showing signs of interest and you should totally take advantage of that and potty train him right away (keep reading for how…).

And, note that a toddler who is showing interest in the potty can just as easily lose interest in a few weeks or months…in fact, that’s usually the case. It is not linear. It is not up to him to complete the job and self-potty-train. It’s your job to teach him the tools he needs to be successful and MASTER this gig.

At what age can I start potty training my child?

You can begin potty training at any age, starting at birth.

Popular medical belief states that a baby has no sphincter control until 18-24 months.

This is absolute bull honkey. For example, my son began to hold it (not out of fear or coercion, but out of an innate desire to not soil himself) at age 2 weeks.

You needn’t “wait til they’re ready”…you may however “wait til they’re capable.”

But you can begin helping them meet an inborn need for cleanliness from the get-go…from birth.

Potty Training Ages…and the corresponding potty training methods

  • For ages 0-18 months, Elimination Communication is the best solution. EC will either wrap itself up between 14-18 months or you can follow this up with the next method, below.
  • For ages 18 months-30 months (the Golden Window for conventional toddler toilet training), non-coercive potty training that takes an average of 7 days is best.
  • For over 30 months, you may need to visit the doctor. Waiting til this age is not healthy, oftentimes resulting in constipation, withholding patterns, and extreme tantrums.

WebMD says that the average age of potty training completion in the US is actually now 36-38 months.

No wonder why it’s so difficult! They average group of children in our country have been potty trained WAY past the most beneficial window. And many children lie ABOVE this average. Yowch. I would NOT want that job of potty training the 4 year olds.

(Before you or your friends bite my head off, yes, so-called “experts” will tell you that you can not start til 18 months, or 2 years, or that 3 years is the best time to begin. They’ll tell you that “early potty training” is harmful. If you’re strapping them to a potty chair all day or giving anal soap suppositories…yes, I agree.

But EC isn’t a practice like this. Neither is the 7 day one I speak of. Most of these “experts” are merely doctors or psychologists who happen to be affiliated with diaper companies or invested in their own book promotion or agenda, and most of their writings are simply based on a ton of myths.

Ask yourself and your friends: When were YOU potty trained? When was your mother potty trained? How did they do it? I’d wager it was between 12-24 months and it was done by deciding to do it and then doing it without fear.)

Given the general perceived difficulty of toilet training a toddler, it’s no wonder why folks seek out a gentle practice like Elimination Communication and want to try it with their toddlers.

However, it’s just not the best solution for the 18 month+ crowd.

Is there a good, non-coercive, gentle, yet effective potty training option out there?

Yes. And it complements EC. In fact, it even includes a section that was written just for folks who’ve done even a tiny amount of EC with their child in the past.

Jamie Glowacki has potty trained 1,000’s of kids and her program starts at 18 months and goes through 30 months (older is possible, but you begin to get into medical issues if you potty train after age 3).

The average length of time to completion with Jamie’s book, Oh Crap! Potty Training, is 7 days.

So, skip the EC with your 2 year old and enjoy a diaper-free toddler within 7 days of doing her program.

I refer all of the parents of babies who are older than 18 months to Jamie, and she refers all the ones who are super-young to me. This way the world gets more diaper-free kiddos…faster…gentler…with less headache. We love what we do! And we get GREAT results.

Thank you so much for your question, Sara!

Please leave any perspectives you might have in the comments below, click “like” to share this post with your friends, and please oh please….BE NICE. Potty training is a topic laden with guilt, fear, anger, and regret. Don’t make the comments section a battleground, but do share your piece below! xx Andrea

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7 replies
  1. MamaSluggy
    MamaSluggy says:

    I assume that you mean “According to” rather than “Contrary to” in this sentence: “Contrary to popular medical belief, a baby has no sphincter control until 18-24 months.”

    • Andrea Olson
      Andrea Olson says:

      You’re very welcome Sara! Please let me know how it goes with Jamie’s noncoercive potty training. I am thrilled every time a mother gets her info and finishes with the diapers…for good. What a relief! :) Andrea

  2. Beth
    Beth says:

    I’m a Montessori toddler teacher. I took over a class of toddlers who were being trained in EC, not toilet training. I saw the differences compared to my previous class of toddlers who were toilet trained using Jamie’s method. The biggest mistake about doing EC beyond the developmentally appropriate stage is that the toddlers doing EC are not learning to toilet train themselves. EC is a relatively passive thought process for the infant compared to the toddler’s thought process involved in toilet training. The toddler in the developmentally approriate stage for toilet training (starting soon after the toddler starts walking) wants to do everything independently. Toddlers don’t want things to be done to them passively. It is precisely in aiding the development of independence in dressing, undressing, and toileting, that the toddler finds the motivation to toilet train. The toddler doesn’t want to be picked up and carried to the toilet. He wants to get himself to the toilet independently. So this is the time to toilet train.

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