Monday, January 30, 2012

I did it...I finally did it.

It's been a long time coming. My 3 year old has known for over a year how to use the potty and when it's time to go and has just outright refused to go...she views the diaper as a security item at this point because she's afraid of having an accident. My husband and I have tried our hardest to let her know that we wouldn't be mad and she wouldn't be in trouble and that we would just clean it up and put on fresh clothes, but she's still fearful of it for some reason. I've come to the conclusion that we just have the non-risk taking, nervous-temperament child and it's time.

Chloe's been doing a LOT better the last few months and while I've been very pleased with her interest in the potty, she hasn't improved the frequency and just views the potty as something to do on a whim. So yesterday she stood right in front of me making the face- all parents know the "pooping face" their child makes- and I asked her if she was pooping (which she definitely knows she is supposed to be doing in the potty). When she replied "yeah, I pooped in my diaper", I immediately became irritated and asked her why. "Well, because I like using the diaper and don't want to use the takes longer to get there and I might have an accident." Calmly I just said "it's okay if you have an accident, but if you poop in your diaper on purpose one more time, I'm taking the diapers away and you can start wearing panties all day until bedtime. You can have a diaper then and only then." I guess she didn't believe me. Chloe paused and pooped in her diaper in front of Drew today and it began. After getting her cleaned up, Chloe didn't get a diaper for the rest of the day, and my eardrums sarcastically thank me for it. Not since teething has that child spent an entire day whining and crying, but she made it accident-free!

My husband and I even explained that anything you do is scary the first time because you have to learn to do something you've never done before, but the more you do it the less afraid you become. And when you do something often enough, you stop being scared because you know how to do it and it just becomes part of your life. She's still worried about the accidents that I know are coming. We seem to have such a nervous child and I've tried so many tactics- rewards, stickers, bribes, letting her come to it on her own, you name it- and none of it has worked. I've always been a little too soft on the discipline side (oh, Supernanny would love to get a hold of me) and one pediatrician even worded it as "you're being a marshmallow when she needs you to be a rock for her" when I broached the behavior topic. Well, I guess this is another approach, my attempt at being a rock. My fear for her is that she will take this diaper security issue too far and will refuse to use the potty to the point that she will have to go to school a year or two late (she'll be 4 in November) and I don't want her to go through that, the other kids wondering why she's older than them and possibly teasing her. There's also the fact that Chloe is an extremely active child and has asked me a few times if she could learn to swim and I hate for her to be deprived of the joy of learning new things like swimming, or dancing (she LOVES to dance), or tumbling. I'm really not one of those parents obsessed with scheduling their kids into constant activities, but I would love for her to have the opportunity to be around other children her age and socialize a little bit and maybe come out of her shell just a hair.

While I realize that some children just can't be pushed into something they aren't ready for, I'm wondering if there are some kids that have to be pushed or they won't even try. Yeah, she's a perfectionist and I'm concerned that she's going to develop that fear of failure complex that I'm all too familiar with myself, having dealt with it my whole life. Gestapo parenting has never been my thing, but my thing hasn't been working, so I guess it's time to try something else, because I like to be proactive in problem-solving. I hope I'm not scarring her by forcing her to use the potty, but I guess I won't know until I try, and it's time that I practice what I'm preaching to her. There's no way in good conscience I can tell my child to take a risk and try something new when I'm not willing to do it myself, so here goes! We'll see how tomorrow goes and whether I have any hair left at the end of the day, because there's no going back now, or everything we said will be undermined. Yes, I'm scared that this attempt will fail too, but it's high time that I learn to stop fearing failure because it's inevitable that all parents screw up their kids in one way or another, but to what degree is different with each person. Alright, time to make like a rock and sit at the shore, weathering the storms.


  1. bravo! i think this is a wonderful step on your part. i also think creating false dichotomies (gestapo v. marshmallow) is something that many people do--lord knows i do it--but it's not true or even helpful.

    i think you have showed that you can be firm by meaning what you say. you don't have to be harsh or insensitive, and i think you've shown great strength in those areas as well.

    reflecting on and processing your own fear of failure while also helping your daughter work on hers is very intuitive and healthy. it grounds you. it maybe--even if it's VERY subconscious--makes it less scary and less about a power dynamic for her.

    it's clear: you want the best for your girls. i think being open, vulnerable, communicative, and patient while still holding the balance of firmness, meaning-what-you-say-and-saying-what-you-mean, and consistency is what you are doing and need to do.

    so, i would just like to commend you and say that i am proud to know a mother like you.

    oh, and please feel free to take what i say with a grain of salt, as i do not have any children.

    1. well thank you! and i don't think it matters that you don't have children...a sensible person can pick out a bad/mediocre/good parent when they see one. i appreciate your insight!