Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Real Pisser

Welcome back to the microcosm of our house. Here's something I just KNOW you'll want to hear ALL about.

Lest you should think that Sweet Pea's potty usage has remained wonderful since the day she suddenly started using it... let me fill you in.

The first month was fabulous. There was only one accident, right in the middle, and that was minor. Then she started wanting to take naps in her room rather than the master bed, and she started not making it to the potty. Why? Because she can't open the door to her room. The doorknob is all tight and messed up. I've always got the monitor on so I know what's going on in there and when she needs me, but she doesn't always let me know right away. I finally came up with the idea of putting her kid potty in that room in case she needed a potty right away, but by that time she was fine with sleeping in the master bed for naptime again. In the master bedroom she can hop off the bed and go straight into the bathroom, so there are no problems in there.

I also of course instituted a policy of "you must use the potty before your nap," which helped for a bit.

However - at the beginning we had been giving her incentives - small toys, etc. for periods of time without accidents. I told her while this was happening that when she got really good at using the potty we wouldn't give her things anymore, we would just expect her to do it. She didn't really seem to understand why, but she seemed okay with the idea. The incentives petered out and then disappeared.

Now, however... she has started having accidents all the time. All over the place. Never in bed, thank goodness, but... sometimes on the carpet, sometimes in the kitchen/dining room/family room (it's all one long room). Mostly on the linoleum in the little bathroom downstairs. So, yes, she usually does make it to the bathroom, but not the potty. I am constantly having to take sopping pee-filled underwear and sometimes pants and socks as well upstairs to the washer. There are days when she NEVER makes it to the toilet on time, and it's a day of soggy underwear, wiping up the kid, and mopping the floor.

I imagine that I wouldn't be so upset about all of this if she hadn't done so very well at the beginning and then slipped back to this. I would also be less upset if I knew that she was having accidents. But I know better. Nowadays she has confessed to me on several occasions, in these words, "I just don't want to stop playing." We have explained to her that that's not acceptable. Often we make her sit on the potty when it's been hours since the last time she went. She used to say, "I don't have to go," "my bladder's not full yet, " or "I don't want to go right now." But if her bladder was full, it would empty on those visits. And often she would cry and say, "I didn't want to go pee pee!" We were, of course, thankful that she didn't know how to hold it.

But now... she can hold it when we make her sit there. Even if she really has to go. She will sit there when told, often arguing or just telling me that her bladder isn't full. I will explain to her that if she feels like something needs to come out, she needs to let it out - that going potty keeps her healthy, etc. She won't go, she'll get off the potty and pull up her underwear, wash her hands and go back to playing, and then - yep, five minutes later - all over the floor. Or whereever.

Last Friday I had already been having a difficult day with her, so while I cooked dinner I let her play computer games on to keep her out of my hair. I had asked her if she needed to go potty and she had said "no." I had asked her repeatedly and she had always said "no." During dinner preparations I had to take The Bug upstairs for a diaper change. Sweet Pea came up while I was finishing up with the diaper change, and wanted to go back downstairs with me. Then I noticed that she wasn't wearing any underwear. I asked about it and she said,

"they're downstairs."

Me: "Did you have to go potty?"

SP: "yeah."

Me: "Are your underwear dry?"

SP: "no."

Me: "Where did you go? Did you go on the potty?"

SP: "No, I went on your chair."

At this point in time I was at the bottom of the stairs, rounding the corner into the dining room, so I surveyed all the chairs at the table. They were dry.

Me: "what chair?"j

SP: "Your computer chair."

Yeah. My computer chair. My stuffing-filled, plush, computer chair on wheels. She ruined it. In order to give her the benefit of the doubt, I asked her if she had peed on my chair on purpose. Her answer was, "yes" but then I reasoned that maybe she didn't know what "on purpose" meant, and asked her if she had known that she had to pee and done it on the chair anyway. I asked in as many different and simple ways as I could think of, to make sure of what I was hearing. Every answer she gave told me that she had been fully aware that she had to pee, but she simply did not want to stop playing computer games to go to the bathroom and use the toilet.

I explained to her how that is NOT an accident, told her she had ruined my chair, and put her on time out.

She peed on the floor in her time-out spot (which is, thankfully, tiled - it's the entryway to our house, since there's nothing there for her to play with). She said that she still needed to go, that she hadn't finished. But why, then, had she come upstairs? I had assumed she was finished, because instead of going to the potty after peeing on my chair, she had come upstairs and chatted with me for a while.

I am really at the end of my rope here. There have been a few days when she has asked to wear diapers again so she won't have to stop playing to go to the bathroom. Of course I have told her "no" and we're not going to go back, but I am really ready to make her live in the back yard until she can take this seriously. I don't care if she pees in the yard, but I am really really really REALLY sick of her using the house as a toilet (although, thank goodness, she does not have poop accidents).

Every time I flip out at her about peeing somewhere other than the toilet I figure I'm probably reacting in exactly the wrong way. What long-term damage am I doing here? Slipshod has an even shorter temper with her than I have (surprising given how laid back he is, though if she didn't push him away all the time he might have an easier time of giving her the benefit of the doubt) so we're not really getting anywhere.

Every time she has an accident outside of the bathroom, playing somewhere, we take away whatever she was playing with (so, no computer games for now - that's a bigger blow to her than taking away regular toys). But now we're talking about getting her a potty watch - basically a little timer she can wear on her wrist. That might sound fun, but I have shown it to her and she doesn't like the idea of having to wear it - so instead of getting it as an incentive, we're getting it as a punishment. ha ha!

Slipshod's mom says that you have to figure out whether your child responds to incentive or punishment. We are having trouble figuring that out because she is ALWAYS being given things - by Slipshod's mom for the most part, nearly every couple weeks. But I am pretty sure that at this point we've got to just go with punishment.

Any ideas would be appreciated if you've been through this and found something that worked.


Christina said...

I have no experience in this area, but a friend of mine had a lot of trouble potty training her son. It came down to a change of words for her. Instead of asking him if he had to go potty, he was told it was time to go potty. He had to at least try when he was told to go.

It worked until he was older, and could pay a little more attention to his need to go. Although he's four and a half and still has night accidents from time to time.

Anonymous said...

I had an idea, but it's more work for you. The first day (or morning), she has to take 3-5 minutes out of every half hour to go potty. She has to stop playing whether she has to go or not. If she stays dry, then the time can be lengthened to one hour, ninety minutes, etc. That way it's a privilege for her to keep playing. If there's an accident, go back to more frequently.
You said she's asked for diapers so she doesn't have to stop playing. Maybe you could tell her that diapers are for younger children and they don't get to play the way she does? Or, tell her that since she didn't listen to her body's signals, you (and she) have to clean up and now you don't have time to do whatever fun thing she wanted to do. Be matter of fact about it, so it's not a "punishment," just a consequence.
Now, how do I get my dogs to stop peeing in the garage?

The Pizzitola Family said...

Rebecca did this same thing. Totally ticked me off. After about a month too, I did end up putting her back in pull ups-(the ones that made her 'feel' wet & cold & yucky) and as bad as it may sound I did reverse phsycology (spelling?) on her and just told her she wasn't my BIG girl anymore, because big girls use the potty and that she was a baby again and that worked. She wanted nothing to do with being a baby again and immediately that same day took the diaper off and for 8 months have only had a few accidents. We're almost 1 year potty trained. It may be worth a shot if you've tried everything else.