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Looking for a Parenting Support Course? What I learned from a year of studying parenting programs.

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As part of my research project to evaluate a parenting program, I first had to study OTHER well established parenting programs to get an idea of how I was going to plan my project.

What started as an innocent little hunt to find information on parenting programs, ended up in me writing a critical review on the most popular parenting programs that you can find today. These are the highlights of what I have found.

If you’re a parent or carer and are seeking help through a parenting program, I highly recommend that you carefully consider the philosophy of a parenting program before you sign up for it (you can also read books based on most of these programs without doing any sessions). Make sure that the theoretical foundations of the program align with your family values or are something you are interested in learning. Although some of the programs say they cater to ‘all’ parents or are ‘universal’, they certainly are not. You could also read through parenting blogs on sites like to know more about how to care for your newborn baby.

Because parenting programs are taught by ‘experts’, we can feel that these people know more than us. But, if the strategies taught to you in the programs don’t align with your family values, you may find yourself in a conundrum where you’re MORE confused and conflicted than before! I mean, which parenting strategy would you choose if your children suddenly say that they want new round windows in the house and not the pre-existing ones? Of course, you have the option to replace all the windows in your house with round windows. But would that be feasible? Truth be told, some tantrums of children can seem to be irrational. And no amount of planning and strategizing can really help solve such critical issues. So, before applying the strategies, it would be wise to think twice if the strategies taught to you in parenting programs can align with your family values.

Two Types of Parenting Programs

There are two major categories of parenting programs. Behavioural Parent Training programs and Attachment-Based parenting programs. Both have their strengths. I won’t hide the fact that I heavily prefer the attachment-based philosophies, but read for yourself to find out which program or approach you might benefit from most.

Behavioural Parent Training Programs

Popular ones are Triple P, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, 1-2-3 Magic and Incredible Years.

Behavioural parent training programs were made popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s. They were designed by psychologists at a time when it became recognised that using corporal punishment (smacking, spanking) was far more troublesome than it was worth. The experts had to come up with some suitable alternative, so a style of discipline was developed to teach parents a system of rewards and non-violent punishments to elicit cooperation in children.

You are most likely familiar with some of the these strategies. They are rewards, like sticker charts, prizes and praise and ‘non-intensive’ punishments like planned ignoring and time-out.

No children were actually put in time-out for this photo, I asked her to pose.

There is a lot of evidence to say these types of parenting programs are effective. And for families who are experiencing stressful situations or have very little time or energy to exert on parenting issues, these programs may be the go. However, critics of behavioural parent training programs argue that there are problems with claiming these programs ‘work for all’. Cherry picking positive results of trials, low acceptability of discipline strategies (in other words, parents are not willing to use planned ignoring or time-out), considerably high drop out rates and not enough independent studies (for example, most of the studies on Triple P were done by Matthew Sanders, founder of Triple P himself. Hello conflict of interest??)

Nevertheless, Triple P and other behavioural parenting programs tend to get the majority of funding from governments in industrialised countries, because of all the research that has been done. So, in some places you can take these types of programs for free and for some families, these programs can be life changing.

Aside from the critics of the programs, there is also a plethora, and I mean PILES of studies against using rewards and punishments for disciplining children. A good book to read on the pitfalls of using rewards, is Alfie Kohn’s, ‘Punished by Rewards’, where he lists over 70 studies on why using rewards can backfire.

Planned ignoring is a strategy that has hardly any studies done on it at all! Yet it is common advice in behavioural parent programs. A top researcher on the effects of ignoring found that ignoring people is an emotionally painful punishment similar to physical pain. Studies on the use of time-out have declined over the past 20 years, yet it is still a method recommended in behavioural parenting programs. One study on 4-5 year old preschoolers who had been put in time out, found that the children had little idea why they were there, but reported feelings of fear, sadness and that their teachers disliked then. The researchers advised that time-out would not prevent future misbehaviours from reoccurring.

Okay, okay, can you tell I don’t recommend behavioural parenting programs? Put my opinion aside, because there are families who benefit from behavioural parenting programs and these programs are actually doing good in a sense that if a family is struggling, the strategies can be helpful for a quick fix. And some people find these programs are much less effort than what I am about to mention next.

Attachment-Based Parenting Programs (sometimes called relationship-based programs)

Some examples are Circle of Security, Know Your Child, Aware Parenting and Hand-in-Hand Parenting.

Attachment-based parenting programs are programs based on attachment theory. These programs have an emphasis on preserving the relationship and understand the idea that the secure foundation between a child and their primary carer is vital to a child’s healthy development. Prompt, nurturing responsiveness to a child’s physical and emotional needs are seen as very important.

Not all attachment-based parenting programs use the same strategies. So, if you want to go for an attachment-based program, you should find out what their discipline strategies or methods for responsiveness are, and if they align with your values, before signing up. For example, many of the behavioural parenting programs actually claim they are based on attachment theory… but they also advocate for ignoring your crying child, which goes against the idea of attachment theory.

Some attachment-based programs may recommend using punishments, like time-out when all other avenues have been exhausted and the parents are at their wits end. Other attachment-based programs, like Aware Parenting and Hand-in-Hand parenting, would not recommend using time-out. These programs have a completely different philosophy for understanding and responding to misbehaviours in children and help parents understand why we have such strong reactions to our children’s behaviour. These two attachment-based programs have a unique outlook on behaviour, as they recognise that crying, tantrums and play, are an inborn healing mechanism for dealing stress and trauma. Have a look at the programs philosophies before deciding which program to take or simply ask the instructors, they should be able to tell you.

Attachment-based parenting programs may not be practical for some families because they are not a ‘quick fix’ and it may be difficult for some parents to implement prompt responsiveness and being deeply in tune with their children.

One study compared two behavioural parenting programs with one attachment-based program. This study found that behavioural parenting programs had some immediate significant results. Parents who took the attachment-based programs only experienced some immediate improvements, not as significant. However, when measured 2 years later, the attachment-based participants continued to see improved results that were equal to the significant results of the behavioural programs. Interestingly, there were no further improvements in results for the parents who took the behavioural parenting programs while some of the initial positive results had even faded with time.

In other words, the attachment-based approach to parenting support was just as significant, but was not a quick fix.

Which is better?

It’s up to you.

In a sense, you can look at attachment-based parenting programs as having the short term inconvenience of learning new strategies and really digging deep to get to the source of your parenting journey, but with long lasting, deep and meaningful effects. Behavioural parenting programs can also offer benefits, but may just be a quick fix.

No, Children Don’t Always Model Their Parent’s Behaviours.

I read a meme the other day that cracked me up.

Child expert: “Children will model the behaviour that they see.”

Me: “False. They have seen me sleep, they do not sleep.” Here’s the original link to the meme.

Some child experts advise parents that if we just modify our behaviors, then our children will follow. And yes, it is true, our kids are watching every move we make. But, it’s not always true that kids model their parents’ behavior. I feel bad for parents when they read this sort of stuff. I know plenty of parents who don’t yell, hit, bite or throw things… yet their children do. If they were children of divorced parents, their rude behavior could be associated with a coping mechanism. There is also a high likelihood that children of divorced parents might experience trauma more than once. Therefore, while making arrangements for child custody, these factors should be taken into consideration to ensure their healthy development. In order to do this, parents must use and speak to a trusted family lawyer in order to ensure their children are as comfortable as can be. Check out Peters And May blog post to family solicitor to gain an idea of just one firm that can help you with the possibility of divorce affecting your child’s behaviour!

I can tell you with great certainty, that I don’t ever yell at my kids to, “Get me a drink!” But sometimes my kids do… And when my two year old bashed his little one year old friend on the head… he didn’t do that because he saw me bashing someone else on the head! Kids who yell at their parents ‘I HATE YOU!’ are not necessarily saying that because they heard their parents saying the same and when kids bully, it’s not necessarily because their parents are bullies…

So where do children ‘learn’ their behaviour? And why do they act the way they do

Agression, lying, fighting, whining, not cooperating, and tantrums are not learned behaviours! When children act this way, it’s because they have an unmet need…. the need could be physical or emotional. And, a lot of times, it’s NOT our fault when our child has an unmet need. There’s no guilt here. Hurts can happen to any child, no matter how loving or attentive a family is.

Some of these annoying behaviours explained:

Children often act aggresive after they have felt powerless. And, children feel powerless a lot, especially when they are stuck in an adult’s world and have little say in their day-to-day choices. Or, when they’re in a situation where they feel vulnerable. For example, my 2 year old son is so adorable, so people poke, kiss, tickle, hug and pick him up all the time and he HATES it. I’ve noticed that after his space gets invaded, he almost instantly gets aggressive by throwing, biting, or kicking. It’s not until he has a cry to release his emotions of feeling vulnerable, that his aggression stops.

Kids lie when they’re afraid of telling the truth because they’re afraid of getting into trouble. Kids fight when they feel something isn’t fair or when they feel unheard. Children are ambassadors of fairness! If you try to train children not to fight, do you know what they do??? They end up fighting behind your back!

Kids whine and act rude, again, when they feel powerless or unheard, or upset by something. Children often won’t cooperate because they lack autonomy in their daily choices. In other words, they are simply tired of always having to comply with adult’s requests. Or, because they feel lack of connection from their parents or carers. Children tantrum when they release stress and frustration. It’s a GOOD thing when kids have a tantrum. Better out than in, we don’t need to stop it, but we should at least lend an ear to listen.

If we can understand the reason why our children behave in certain ways, then we can respond in ways that are more compassionate. We may not always have a solution for their hurts and frustrations. But, we can always lend an ear and listen. When children feel heard and when they feel that their emotions are validated, then they start cooperating more, they start acting more polite, they start being more helpful. There are other things we can do to help our kids be pleasant little people to be around and that is through giving choices and through playfulness AND through providing a loving environment.

So, yes, we absolutely should model appropriate behaviour in front of our children, but it’s not true that children do as they see, because adults usually don’t go around biting, yelling hitting, throwing toys, etc. Also, I’ve seen very polite, quiet children, and then you meet their parents, who are loud, swear a lot and talk over everyone! See, it doesn’t always match up…

If a child is swears, demands, yells, is aggressive or does other obnoxious things, parents, don’t feel like it’s you that’s modelled the wrong thing! There are more things going on than the ‘experts’ talk about and understanding the root cause of a child’s behaviour is the very first step.

To better understand behaviour and emotions, I highly recommend reading two books ‘Tears and Tantrums’ and ‘Attachment Play’ both by Aletha Solter.

There Are No Such Thing As Crocodile Tears

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Kids cry. Some of them seem to cry a lot more than others. And, their crying can be super annoying to us!

Especially when we feel like they’re crying over nothing. Or, if we think they’re crying to get attention. Or, if we think they’re crying just to get their way.

But, here’s the truth, and it’s not very convenient… Kids cry when they have an unmet need.

Some reasons kids cry:

  • Pain
  • Frustration/feeling of being incompetent
  • Seeking connection and comfort from a parent or carer
  • Fear or overstimulation
  • Accumulation of pent up emotions

While crying does indicate that something is ‘wrong‘, crying is not alway something we need to stop. Obviously, if see that they’re in pain or very sick, and maybe need medical attention we should respond appropriately. But other times, the reason for our child’s tears are not so obvious and we get annoyed because we think they’re crying over nothing and they should just shut up.

But… can you cry on demand? Unless you’re a well trained actor, chances are that you can’t. So, if an adult can’t cry on demand, a child can’t. Aletha Solter, the founder of Aware Parenting describes the need to cry similar to the need to defecate. If you don’t feel the urge to poo, you can’t just poo on demand! Similarly, a child who has no reason to cry, won’t just start crying.

What we can do when our child cries ‘crocodile’ tears

  • Listen
  • Observe how it triggers you
  • Don’t try to interrupt or distract their crying (think of it as better out than in, letting their emotions out now, will reduce whining later).
  • Understand that there’s likely an accumulation of emotions and the event or situation that they’re crying over (like cutting their sandwich into squares instead of triangles) was just the straw that broke the donkey’s back.

And, just as a reminder, we don’t have to feel bad when our child cries and we find it annoying. Crying triggers a response in us that probably comes from our past and/or our conditioning in society that leads us to believe that crying is ‘bad’. We don’t have to analyse our child’s every tear and wonder what we did wrong to cause them to cry. Even in the most attentive families, kids get upset or have an unmet needs. It just happens!

(My daughter was totally posing for this photo. So, I guess these were crocodile tears after all)

Society’s Screen and Social Media Obsession: It Will Change

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My husband and I were talking about kids and screens. He’s eighteen years older than me. I told him, “You know, I don’t think kids are going to be obsessed with screens and social media when they’re older, because even I’m getting sick of them.” He said, “, Of course, they won’t. There will be something new to take over!

He told me how when he was a kid, it was the phone. Then, it was TV.

Do you remember our mothers talking on the phone? They talked on the phone for HOURS!

They watched TV.

They read books and newspapers.

Then, computers came along and they played solitaire. Then, chat rooms. Then mobile phones and texting with one hand holding the phone while driving (yikes, I used to all the time).

So, what’s so different about our usage of screens and social media we’re all obsessed with right now? Probably nothing, I predict. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in twenty years, the thought of posting about your dinner on Facebook and Instagram becomes laughable. With this being said, sites like broadbandsearch
show the increase of social media usage over the years, so who knows what will happen in years to come? So far, a lot of people consume social media daily and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

Having these super-powerful tiny ‘computers‘ that do everything in the palm of our hands, is a new thing for now. Our society hasn’t fully gotten used to this new handheld omnipotent gadget yet. Actually, many of us are still learning that it’s not a smart idea to stare at your screen while you’re crossing the road! Sort of like how it took society a few years to realize that holding your phone while driving needed to be illegal…

Eventually, people will start realizing, there’s nothing there… staring at a screen and posting photos of your life and looking at photos of other’s lives will eventually get old. I actually can’t wait for the hashtag to go out of style. However, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon. Instagram relies on these hashtags to promote certain pictures and get them on the explore page. This helps people increase their engagement on the picture. Normally, the more engagement a post gets, the better it performs. This is why so many Instagram users are using an instagram hashtag generator these days to try and make their posts more popular. It does appear that hashtags are here to stay on social media! It’s not just hashtags you can use to get attention on posts, but you can actually buy your followers these days rather than obtain them naturally. It really does baffle me but it’s true. That’s with using tools like Upleap. Kicksta is another one but its reviews do not recommend it. I start to wonder how much further it will all go! However, it’s likely that, over time, the technology will change and the way we use the technology will change.

When I was about 12 years old, I remember shutting myself into my room and playing this video game for hours a day! It’s all I wanted to do. A year or two later, I wouldn’t have spent a second playing it. It got old.

A lot of people have pre-digital technology nostalgia. Weren’t people were so much more ‘present‘ back in the ‘golden olden days‘… you know, when the dads used to hide behind newspapers at the breakfast table or smoking a pipe and listening to the radio. Yup… nope.

That tendency in society to disconnect from reality has always been there! Just in different forms. Smartphones are powerful tools. All at once, they instantly connect us with friends, family and the world. They’re our phone, our camera, our weather forecast, our email, entertainment, a calculator, a flashlight… and Siri has the answer for every weirdo question my 5-year-old comes up with.

Eventually, most people will eventually learn to regulate, but right now, these toys are new and exciting. Read the rest of this entry

So, When Do You Do the ‘Lesson’?

When I tell people that we homeschool, one of the first things they ask me is, “So, when do you do the ‘lesson?
What they mean is, “When do you sit down at the table and make them read and write?
The way we do home education in our family, there is no ‘lesson‘. Learning is incidental. We learn everywhere we go. At the grocery store, while we’re baking brownies, while we’re driving in the car (so many good conversations in the car!) walking to the park, sitting on a comfy couch while I read them library books and yes, occasionally sitting down at the table doing some written stuff (although that’s the rarest activity we do!).
Here’s how one conversation went in our house or you could say, this is how one ‘lesson‘ went, since lots of people want to know.
Margo (7) looks at her undies that have a big four leaf clover on the front: “What’s the day after my birthday called again?”
Me: “Saint Patrick’s Day”
Margo: “And, what’s the day before my birthday?”
Me: “The Ides of March.”
Margo: “What’s the Ides of March?”

Read the rest of this entry

What Not To Say To Your Child Instead of Saying Anything

Say this.

Don’t say this.

Say _____ instead of ____.

Praise like this, not like this.

Memes, lectures, blog posts, books, videos.

It can get very confusing!!

At the height of self proclamation that I was an unschooler, I started questioning EVERYTHING I said to my kids. And, you know what happened? I started getting confused. I started getting permissive (mostly because I had no idea what to say that sounded more evolved than what I was used to saying.) I started getting resentful (because I wasn’t listening to my needs). I started getting STRESSED! So, I had to stop with all the crazy ‘word watching’

And, I admit, I’ve written a few articles about how we speak to our children! Because, it’s true that we should be mindful of what we say. For example, I was saying, “Be careful” like 800 times a day… So, I became more aware of how I used ‘be careful’, because I realised my kids were going to have to learn their limits under reasonable safe circumstances.

It’s important to speak with awareness, yes!

But when does it get to be too much?

When we feel guilty and confused about everything that comes out of our mouths… that’s when it’s too much.

Oops! Did I just use a mild threat to get my kid to brush her teeth? Well… yes, yes, I just did… But, do I always use threats? 99% of the time, no!

Oops! Did I just tell my daughter that I loved her painting because it’s beautiful?! Why yes, what a shallow empty crapload full of praise! Haha! But… it’s the first thing that came out and it felt true and it felt authentic and she was happy. And, then we hung the picture on the fridge and we moved on with our day.

It’s all about being natural with our children and realistic with ourselves.

It’s one thing to be mindful of what we say and to try and break that record playing of things that come flying out of our mouth without any awareness, but we also have to relax and be kind to ourselves.

A few months ago, there was a meme about what to say to children instead of ‘stop crying‘. While the post was really thoughtful and helpful, it also didn’t offer any suggestions for parents who struggle to listen to crying. And it didn’t explain that sometimes you just can’t have a crying child because it’s not the right time or place. I wondered how many parents were feeling guilty and stressed by that meme? That sometimes it’s really ok to get a child to stop crying, if there are other more urgent issues at hand. That sometimes crying in our children triggers something so deep and hurtful in us, that we can’t handle it and that we need a lot of inner work to be able to listen to crying.

All we can do is do our best. Children like when we act natural around them. They don’t want artificial words coming out of our mouths. Being authentic is something that our children love about their parents! At any given moment, there are the million variables in life! Sometimes it’s ok to say one thing, and other times, we have to say another thing. And, sometimes, I’ve found that saying no words at all is the most powerful thing I can do for my kids.

So, before you get too confused about the right way to communicate with our children, just relax. There is always imperfection in words! ALWAYS! Words have the ability to spoil everything, so don’t worry too much if you’re saying right or wrong! Just relax, be natural and have fun!

Photo: Art Baltrotsky

Dear America, What Exactly Are Y’all Praying For?

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My husband woke up before me and showed me the screen of his phone. “What the hell.” He said. “What the fuck.” I said. We don’t swear much. But this news check required swearing.

Another shooting. More people praying.

Praying for the victim’s peace. Praying for the victim’s families. Praying that another act of ‘senseless violence‘ (ahem, domestic terrorism/murder) won’t happen again.

How about we start praying for GUN LAW REFORM?!?! Now there’s a thought! While it’s good that states like Kentucky prevent people from carrying arms out in the open ( there are plenty more things that can be done. Banning semi-automatic weapons would be a good start.

It’s mighty kind of us to pray for victims and their families, but by the time we’re praying for the victims and the families is too late!!!

What if, instead of waiting for these things to happen, and then praying later, American politicians did something to STOP mass shootings from happening. Many serious physical injury lawyers are experienced in criminal law and strive to help out the victims. Even so, it is not alright that innocent people are prone to such assaults.

Don’t pull your bullshit, “People shoot people“. I moved away from America ten years ago and I live in a country with people too. Crazy people, sane people, rich people, poor people. The difference is that in the country I live in now, people don’t have access to guns like they used to. In 1996, there was a mass shooting in Australia and the politicians said enough is enough. They changed the gun laws. They made a gun buyback program to get guns out of the hands of civilians. And guess what? No more mass shootings. It’s understandable that America has bred gun fanatics generation after generation, to the point where many people will spend their free time looking into a website similar to Daily Caller and others to find new information on guns and the various attachments available. However, if you think of Canada as the same, you’ll also come to find out Canada has more guns, but still fewer mass shootings than America. So what gives?

There was no praying. (Ok, maybe there was). Quite simply, the laws were changed. There was no fluffing around. The Australian politicians decided that the right to live was greater than the right to own a gun.

And, people here can still own guns. And, we still have gun violence. (But no lunatic pulling out a semi-automatic weapon killing 50 people and injuring 500 more!) It’s stupid. I wish the laws were even stricter. When you do hear of gun-related violence, it’s usually associated with some sort of domestic violence. Currently, domestic violence has become a problem for all nations across the globe. Moreover, it has become a tragic scenario to see women and children bear the brunt of domestic violence. However, it feels good to see that some foundations like the Lokahi Foundation (to learn more about the foundation, interested parties can visit the YouTube channel of Jennifer Croker) seem to help the victims without thinking twice about their profits. In order to help women live a life that is free from abuse, regain their confidence and independence, and be able to make informed decisions, the Foundation partners women directly with caseworkers who give specialized advice, support, and ongoing care.

So, America, pray all you want, because I know you’re a prayin’ nation, but please pray for the right thing. Pray that your politicians will keep the guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. The second amendment does not apply to psychopaths with semi-automatic rifles! I’ll pray for you too. And for your husbands and wives and for your children, that your politicians will do the right thing.

When Babies and Toddlers Go on Strike! An Aware Parent Perspective

My ten month old son was getting a new tooth, and while it wasn’t causing him pain, his latch must have felt different. One day, he sort of chomped/grazed me while he was feeding. I jumped and let out a ‘YELP!‘ On the surface, he showed no obvious response to my reaction. But, when we started having extreme difficulties feeding for the next few days, I knew that he had been upset by my reaction to his bite.

It’s very common for babies and toddlers to ‘strike‘. Most common are breastfeeding ‘strikes‘, or if you’re doing elimination communication, it could be a potty ‘strike‘. (If you haven’t heard of elimination communication, it’s taking your baby to the potty, I wrote a blog post about it here.) Other ‘strikes‘ could be sitting still for a nappy change, getting in the carseat, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc. I lumped all the ‘strikes‘ together, because while the reason for the ‘strike‘ may be different, the remedies for the ‘strikes‘ are generally the same!

Sometimes the ‘strike‘ seems to resolve itself, while other times, the ‘strike‘ seems to go on forever.

I put the term ‘strike‘ in quotation marks, because it’s not really that the baby doesn’t want to continue with the activity. Rather, babies at this age go on ‘strike‘ because of some sort of unmet need or pent up emotions. This post will talk about WHY a baby goes on ‘strike‘ and what actions you can take to resolve the issue, all while staying emotionally available and connected to your baby. Read the rest of this entry

You Can’t Suck At Being A Parent Every Day

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I have days when I’ve absolutely nailed it. Clean house. Calm and collected kids. Food on the table BEFORE people get hangry. Time for a craft or two and maybe even a packed lunch for a picnic.

It happens. Not every day. Like, maybe once a week. But, on those days, I FEEL it! I own those days!

See Kate, some days you’re winning.” I say to myself.

Our mind clings to the negative. If we have a handful of bad days (or months) of parenting, then we feel like we ALWAYS have bad days of parenting. If we feel like our kids are bonkers sometimes, then somehow we feel like our kids are ALWAYS out of control. If our kids don’t sleep well for a stretch of time, we feel like they ALWAYS sleep like crap. If we feel depressed, alone, forgotten, unappreciated some days, then our mind starts believing that we’re ALWAYS in that state of misery.

Our mind is a funny thing.

We never doubt the negative, but we always doubt the positive. If someone tells me (or I think it) that I’m a shitty parent, man, I BELIEVE it! But, if someone says “Hey, you’re doing a great job.” I say, “Really?? You think so? No… you don’t know me… I suck.

Stop it.

It’s easy to catch yourself on a bad day and say that you suck. It’s much harder to catch yourself on one of those good days and remind yourself that there ARE days when you’re winning!

When I’m having a good day, I catch it. I remind myself. “See… I don’t suck EVERY day!



Elimination Communication: A Day in the Life of a 9 Month Old Using the Potty

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For those of you interested in following my journey in elimination communication, here’s my 9 month update. In case you’re new here, elimination communication (EC), also known as infant hygiene, is the practice of taking your baby to toilet. I wrote a more descriptive blog post on how to do it here. EC is not toilet training, although practicing EC often means that a child is toilet ‘trained’ at an earlier age. I’ve done elimination communication with all three of my kids since birth. I use light weigh cloth nappies most of the time as a back up, and sometimes disposables when we go out, especially in the colder months. I find using nappies to be less stressful and more practical in our modern world. Although, it is possible for a baby to be completely nappy free. I pick clothes that are easy to take on and off of a baby. No snaps on the crotch. At nine months, our little guy is showing similar EC progress/milestones/developmental skills (for lack of a better description) as his two older sisters when they were his age.


Misses seem to be a common theme when babies reach this age. He’s eating more, and getting bigger and he’s busy! I remember with my older daughters, at the same age, I was going through what seemed like a million cloth nappies a day, and with him, it’s the same. Throughout the day, I catch just as many as I miss. Although, thankfully always catch the poos (that’s the most important, right?). The pees are much bigger at his age. And if I don’t catch it, he doesn’t release all of it at once, and then I end up missing two or three mini squirts instead of catching one big one. It can be very annoying!

If I didn’t know any better, I would feel like I was getting nowhere. But, since I experienced this with my two older girls and they were toilet trained between 12-15 months, I’m not concerned at all. With children of this age, their skills and habits can literally change overnight. When mobility is new and playing with items around the house and exploring is all exciting, it’s hard to catch everything. And, catching everything is not what it’s all about, it’s all about building awareness. Some days I miss almost everything! On the days when I miss everything, that usually that means I’m doing too many things. If I have a day like that, the next day, we try to slow it down and I find that I’m able to focus more on him and start catching a lot more. Using nappies makes me lazy, and using disposables makes me SUPER lazy, so I use cloth as much as possible, or none if I’m feeling up for it. Also, using leggings or pants that are super easy to slip on and off make the process easier.

Crying and Protesting the Potty 

A baby of this age gets really engaged in playing and exploring. Babies at this age also get easily overwhelmed with their play, especially if they have been intensely focused for a while. If I stop him when he’s in the middle of doing something, he often cries. Many mothers would not take their babies to the eliminate if the baby seems to protest because they feel they are violating the baby’s desires, but I see the crying in a different light, due to my training in aware parenting. I still take him to the toilet when he cries. And, he often cries and sweats before a big poo! The crying is a release of emotions. Just like elimination is a release of toxins from the body, so is crying a release of emotions and toxins. When he’s content, he won’t cry and easily lets me take him to the potty. If he has some sort of emotions brewing, he cries and arches his back (usually arching the back indicates that the baby is finished eliminating), but in these situations, I still hold him in the position. After a little bit of crying and wiggling around, his body relaxes and he eliminates. I like taking him to a variety of places to eliminate. The potty, the big toilet, the bushes, tonight we accidentally did a poo on the beach, oops! Usually I know when he has to poo and we catch those at home. Oh well, the tide was coming in and it was almost dark out.

Starting to Signal that he needs to go

I could have kicked myself, because I didn’t pick up on his cues for a couple days. If he’s near one of the few potties I have scattered around the house, he crawls towards the potty and grabs it when he has to go. Silly me, I just thought he was trying to play with it, so I kept taking it away! Then, I realised that he was telling me that the had to pee Without fail, every time he grabs for the potty now, when I take him, he goes, or starts complaining because I already missed it, and then I get him dry right away (although he most certainly verbalises how pissed he is that I missed). How cool is that! Nine months old and already telling me. Who’s teaching who?

Nighttime EC 

He always stirs if he has to pee. In fact, I feel like 90%, if not all of his night time waking and also waking during a nap, is because he has to eliminate. I keep a potty near the bed and do it all in the dark. No idea how I don’t make a big mess… ok, very occasionally I do make a mess, but I use my other senses to get us back to bed. I put a bigger cloth nappy on him at night, but change him straight away if I missed. Sometimes EC at night is actually easier than EC during the day. I catch way more at night than I do during the day. While my girls often fell back to sleep easily after night time EC, sometimes he takes a little longer. I think it’s because he sucks his thumb. This could be a whole different blog post, but the thumb sucking has to do with repressing emotions, which means he needs to do some emotional releases (crying), but that’s for another long blog post.

Anyway, Happy ECing!