Why Bother to EC a Non-Verbal Kid?

So your child doesn’t signal, eh? His poo communication involves looking up from play (and if you’re not there to catch his eye, oh well!), and he is more than content to pee through his trainers, through his pants, and through your sofa without blinking?

Ah, the one that crushes EC dreams.

Or is he?

Once upon a time, I knew I would be a perfect parent (*cough*), ace EC (after all, I read Go Diaper Free in its entirety before baby even arrived), astound my incredulous friends and cement my legacy of Supreme Crunchiness. I didn’t know the truth about “readiness” with my first child, so I waited to potty train til he was 2.5. #poopyclothdiapersaretheworst #beststealthpooperever #neveragain. Now that I had EC under my belt, my sweet Second-born would never know a day after 12 months of age in diapers.

And then.

It didn’t take much time to see that Number Two was nothing like his walking-and-talking-in-full-sentences-by-12-mos older brother. Mr. Two was healthy. He just didn’t feel the need to tell me much. (There are benefits: his older brother still announces when he’s going to the bathroom and for what purpose, #1 or #2.)

Now, I’m not a huge fan of being told something is impossible (#competitivethirdborn), so after I stopped whining about how hard I had it and swallowed my pride that I wasn’t going to be able to show off my amazingness, I found a routine that worked for us. Exactly what I did is in my previous post, so I won’t double-use your time by repeating. Here I want to share with you two of the “whys”.

WHY on earth would I take the time to do EC with a non-verbal, seems-to-care-less child, when I could just do what “everybody else” does and then go through the potty training process later?

WHY #1 He Knows He Is Understood

Mr. Second doesn’t easily share what he’s thinking. If compared to Bubbling Brook (dear Mr. First), Mr. Second is more of a Deep Well. I had to take the initiative in communication, and we worked through guesses and misunderstandings, both in EC and everything else. BUT. We worked through them. The impetus to understand his pottying needs and respond to his non-verbal signals became the foundation for our entire communication relationship. (And the Potty Time Master MiniCourse was a real stress-saver!) Because I always tried to understand (even if I didn’t always get it right), he knew I would listen. To this day, he still looks for me when he’s having a hard time talking about something, or when he’s feeling misunderstood. Would I trade that?

WHY #2 He is Confident

Mr. Second is not only more independent in completing tasks than his older brother, but also, approaches new things with a confident “let me figure this out” mentality that is fascinating to watch. I often wonder, if I had given up on EC in the aftermath of a missed signal, if I would have given up on potty training and teaching self-dressing, or at least delayed them til much, much later, struggling for two or three (or more!) years over every toilet trip and clothing change.

But. We didn’t give up.

I see the confident, can-do spirit fostered during our early EC days frequently, even though potty training is well behind us. At 2.5, he wanted – insisted! – that he be entrusted to go into the basement pantry and retrieve the needed can of beans off the shelf. Not being able to read didn’t deter him (and after a brief description from me of the picture of the can, he did select the right one.) At age 4, he lobbied for the job of vacuuming the living room. Being smaller than our vacuum cleaner didn’t intimidate him. (And did a pretty darn good job.) He knows that with determination, he can tackle a new task and succeed (and that Mom is a good resource when things prove extra tricky 😉 ).

Take on several extra loads of pee laundry for the opportunity to boost my child’s self-confidence, communication and empathetic listening skills, not to mention save my child diaper rash and myself a bucket of $$ spent on diapers (or a bucket of soaking cloth poo diapers)?? Sign me up. (Oh, wait, I did that when I got pregnant with Mr. Third. 🙂 )

Have you practiced EC with a non-verbal child or a child with other learning challenges? What tips do you have for those in the journey?

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