Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Potty Manipulation Must STOP!

Barely 2 years old and my daughter already has the manipulative skills of a 16 year old. It's driving me insane.

Evie is potty trained. She's been potty trained for months. But every so often she decides to push her boundaries and we go through an incredibly stressful couple weeks of near constant "accidents".  She knows better. She knows when she has to go. She will sit on the potty when you make her and then pee her pants when she stands up.  I know kids regress occasionally at this stage, but around here it's more than that.

Evie has learned that saying she has to potty will illicit an immediate response from her Daddy or I regardless of what's going on. So.... should I be trying to fix dinner, for example, she will suddenly have to pee 10 times.  That is, assuming I'm the only one here with her. If her Daddy is home from work, playing and reading to her she might, MIGHT, have to go once. Heaven forbid I take 5 minutes to answer an e-mail and ask her to be patient. Immediate having to pee. Now, most weeks she does at least go when you take her.

But then there are weeks like this... She's just saying she has to go for 1. Attention or 2. To prolong the time before nap/bed time. or 3. To get out of her highchair before the meal is finished.  When you take her she just sits there and plays or looks at you. Then gets very grumpy when you give up on her and either walk away or make her come too. I've started leaving her on the potty and walking out of the room... sure fire fit there. She does this a lot in specific places too. For a while she would tell me the minute we walked into the grocery store EVERY time. She always wants to go at the Mall Deli and usually several times. In fact, I think I've become intimately acquainted with the bathroom in virtually every restaurant we frequent. It's some sort of game... how cold can we let Mommy's food get?

Then of course there's the alternative (and sometimes they run concurrently). The Accident weeks. I felt one of those coming on late last week when she suddenly had 5 accidents in one day. She thought it was pretty funny. That is, until I told her that if she had an "accident" she couldn't play in her kiddie pool that afternoon. That threat worked for a couple days. Then we were out running errands and she had a real accident. It was probably my fault for not running through the grocery store with a full cart trying to get way to restroom in the back like a crazy person (she's too young to understand the boy who cried wolf but it's the same scenario). Nonetheless, she knew she wasn't going to get in the pool because of it. And that afternoon EVERY time she went was in her pants.  And it's been like that ever since. No accidents= pool time and happy days. 1 accident= ALL "accidents" and a very frustrated mama.

How do we stop all this? Ideas? Suggestions? PLEASE!

We discovered long ago that negative reinforcement just doesn't work on this kid. And the positive reinforcement isn't working so great these days. When she goes on the potty we sing a song, we do a dance, she gets either a sticker or an M&M, we clap and cheer. Hurray! When she has a real accident I remind her where the pee pees go and ask her why she didn't speak up but I don't come down too hard on her, it was, after all, an accident. But the on purpose "accidents" now that's another story. I make her show me where the pee pees go and where she went. I ask her if that's okay.. It's not. I make her take her soiled clothes to the laundry basket. I don't let her put her clean clothes on by herself. Putting on her own clothes is fun. It's independent. I tell her she behaved like a baby by pee peeing in her pants and babies don't get to dress themselves. I've tried putting her in a diaper like a baby too but all that does is make her think it's okay and she tries to hide it. At least in big girl under pants when she goes it's obvious and cold.

Today we tried a new tactic. She had an accident at the park this morning and knew she wasn't going to get in the pool.  Before nap time she started playing the sit and not pee game trying to stay up later. She threw a massive fit when I got her down and that carried over into the rest of our routine. She got sent to nap time with no story.  After nap time, as I put her big girl under pants back on I warned her, "If you pee pee in your pants you will go to time out." Yeah, she didn't believe me. Not sure why, I'm pretty stellar on the follow through.  Sure enough, not too much time went by and she was wet and in time out.  When she calmed down I asked her why she had to go to time out. She told me. And she said she was sorry. And I asked her where the pee pees go and she told me. We didn't have any more accidents today but we spent A LOT of time sitting in the bathroom while she continued to try to stay up late at bed time.

So come on now experienced parents. Surely my kid is not the only one to have tried these tactics. How did you solve it?

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