Rachel has a question that I’m going to share this week not because I have the answer, but because I think she’ll be encouraged to see how many of us share her problem:
Question (and it’s a long one!): Have any of you ever had a child that struggled greatly with potty training? My almost 5yo boy has had such a difficult time with this particular skill and we’re at our wit’s end with how to help him (he’s very smart otherwise, reading and writing, doing simple addition, etc.). He has had weeks at a time where he does really well and I think we’re done. Then he’ll have a week or two where he’s having accidents of both kinds again. We’ve tried rewards/consequences, and his brain just doesn’t seem to work that way. His usual excuse is that he “just forgot”. I’m so frustrated with this situation! His two sisters (almost 7 and almost 3) have had no trouble in this area so it’s hard to understand what the deal is with him. :/ Any words of wisdom from any of you ladies? Not necessarily a solution, even, just a “there’s light at the end of the tunnel” kind of encouragement. Thank you!
I don’t think it’s a gender issue. Half the time I hear that boys are easier to train, and half the time I hear that they’re harder. I do seem to hear that they often train later, but that doesn’t really sound like what you are dealing with now. I’m going through the same frustration with my almost-5yo daughter, and also did with another daughter until she was 5 or 6. Both had many accidents, but the part that frustrated me was not the accidents. It was the fact that they didn’t seem to care; they were content to wear their accidents.
In both cases, I think physical maturity played a role because both wet a lot at night, when urine production is typically very low.
In the case of one child, I think maturity of one sort or another was the main cause. She was physically able, but just didn’t have the attention span, maturity or self-awareness required to really care about it until she was older than many. She is a sweet and beautiful girl, but does tend to be a late bloomer in some aspects even now. I’ve learned to be ok with that because she’s worth the wait.
In the case of the other child, I think accidents could also be a sign that she needs more attention. I don’t mean that she does it on purpose, but maybe that she has a tendency to not pay attention to herself so that others will. She is more needy than our others have been, and it takes a lot of loving to fill her love tank. I can’t complain, because she gives it all back with interest and I know she will outgrow the accidents someday. In the meantime, I just try to enjoy the times when she can sit on my lap without both of us needing to change our clothes.
I do have a related question, though. The second daughter mentioned above seems to have very low sleep needs, i.e. she needs less sleep than any 4yo I’ve known. She lies down every day for a rest but rarely falls asleep, and wakes bright and happy after a 7 hour night. I think she doesn’t sleep soundly at night either, often waking us just because she is bored, lonely, or can’t find her blanket. I honestly think she could function well on less sleep than most adults, at an age when all my other children were still heavily dependent on naps. Does anyone think this could be somehow connected to her incontinence, esp. at night? Is she producing urine when the rest of us don’t because her body isn’t spending 9-10 hours in “hibernation mode”?
And I would also love to hear others’ solutions to Hadley’s problem, which I share:
Here’s my question for next week What do you do with things like shoes, bags, coats, etc. that usually get dropped on our floor at the back door? Mail, things that need to be returned to folks, things that get brought in the car, etc. I’m trying to come up with a workable plan for all our junk at the back door. It’s OVERWHELMING!
What, indeed? I’m full of great and useful threats that would doubtless solve the problem if only I were mean enough to carry them out:
“Any shoes left on the floor can be found in the goodwill box, which gets donated every Monday. If you’re missing shoes, I suggest you look for them before Monday.”
“For every item you leave in a vehicle, you’ll have to bring in 3 extra items and put them away.”
“Anything left on your bedroom floor for the 9 AM inspection will go straight into the trash.”
“If your bedroom isn’t clean by the 9 AM inspection, you will miss breakfast.”
Probably the most useful plan was the rule that a person had to put away 2 extra things for every personal item left in a living area or other inappropriate place. It didn’t teach them to put things away in the first place, but it did provide a convenient cleanup plan when they didn’t.
When did your sons learn to snap their pants (and had the hand strength to do so)? what did you do until that point? Special brands to buy or something?
This wasn’t an issue to me. I just snapped when he needed help, and if pressed for an answer I would say that my children probably still needed occasional help until about 5. A bigger potty-help issue to me: how long should I help them wipe? Ugh. We all want to be done with that duty as soon as possible – the helping, I mean – but if we rush it, the consequences are so much worse. My general rule of thumb is to let them do it as soon as they can exercise a reasonable amount of awareness about the geography down there (exactly what needs wiping, and where is it?), then carry out regular backup wiping until I see consistent signs of good hygiene.
Just in case you didn’t already pick up on this, we’re in the throes of potty training once again. Parker is at Day 7 and doing great!
I am wondering how you handle disobedience/ tantrums in the car? Do you pull over and discipline right away? And what if you can’t do that?
I’ve noticed that this rarely happens when I have been consistent about enforcing rules. Of course children will act up now and then, but in general they push the boundaries that seem worth testing – the ones where they think they have a chance at victory.
I have pulled over to deal with incidents right on the side of the road when I felt it was necessary. When I felt it could wait or just wouldn’t be safe/appropriate to do it NOW, I switched my pinky ring to my index finger (my way of tying a string ’round my finger so I won’t forget) and dealt with the incident as soon as I reasonably could. After just one or two roadside incidents, nobody felt the need to test that particular boundary for a very long time. Added bonus: when they know you’ll stop the car, they also believe you’ll get up off the couch, get out of bed, lay the baby down, or do whatever else it takes to address disobedience promptly. Stopping the car = major score in the Mean What You Say category.
I don’t remember if I asked this before, so kindly disregard me if I did (chalk it up to postpartum Mama brain.) But how do you ladies handle difficult news stories? Things like Newtown, Boston, Gosnell. We have no TV so our children aren’t bombarded with inappropriate images daily, but our kids do listen to the radio, and even christian news outlets cover these stories at length. We address the questions as they come, but I wonder if I should address them in a specific manner? I don’t want to sweep it under the carpet. The world IS an evil place, but I wonder sometimes if having my 6 year old hear about these tragedies is a grievous parenting error. But, I can’t avoid it altogether either!
We listen to a lot of talk radio and tend to discuss the big stories, so our young ones are exposed to some of the horrors of what happens in our fallen world. However, we try to avoid getting too wrapped up in the details and especially about filling the heads of the very young with those details. It’s not uncommon for me to say, “We don’t need to talk about the details of what happened. It was very, very sad.” Or, “We don’t need to know all about his sins. We know that he broke the 6th commandment and did some very wicked things.” I think it’s important for kids to understand that wickedness is defined by breaking God’s law, so they need to know His law and what sorts of things people might do to break it, but it’s up to parents who know their children best to decide how much detail is healthy for that child right now.
I also think that questions should be answered to a certain level, even about horrific events, because a child’s imagination is likely to run away and just wondering can cause him to dwell even more on the wickedness. But like other delicate subjects, it’s helpful to avoid offering more detail than the child is requesting, and sometimes the answer can be, “You don’t need to know that right now.”
How would you answer these questions? See what questions the other moms are answering today: