Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Commando or Laissez Fair

 I am a woman divided. The issue of the bodily waste continues in both liquid and solid form. I have 2 very opposite ideas of what we could try. But which is better? How do i know without trying one and then the other? But if I choose unwisely it could cause WORSE problems. Here are the two ideas I am considering:

1) Commando Parenting: Lay out the expected behavior in clear, concise terms. Failure to comply results in a loss of a privilege in the form of anything that does not constitute the basic essentials. Food, water, clothing and shelter. Everything else is fair game. Privileges must be earned back by good behavior.

Why I don't think this will work: Traumatized kids have the constitution of a bulldog and can outlast any parent once they dig their feet in. I think this will create a battle in which I will lose, but he will too.

2) Laissez Fair Parenting: Ignore completely the potty issues. No comments, no discussions, not even blink an eye when bodily waste shows up in the wrong place. He knows it gets to me and that is his power. Take the power away, make it a non-issue.

Why I don't think this will work: he may feel unloved by me if I ignore this attempt at control and garnering attention. He may then escalate behaviors in an effort to get the reaction he craves.

So what works? I have no clue. Maybe a combo of the two? Not show him a reaction but also in some way acknowledge the issue? I made him clean up the poop this weekend and he was so happy to do it and begged me to take his picture. Say wha???? He was NOT upset, he was glowing. I didn't accuse him, just brought him to the bathroom and pointed out the poo and handed him the clorox wipes. You would have thought I handed him a trophy. So now is he going to do it MORE to get my attention or LESS because I was not upset. I really do NOT want to experiment to find the right answer.

Please, please, please, Parenting Fairies, reveal the answers to this frazzled mom.........


Redghia said...

I have one who has restroom management issues purely out of fear, and one who is building himself a rep for revenge peeing. The first only does this in one specific situation and it is his body showing the tension of bad memories he tries to pretend don't exist. The second is discovering that we are getting entirely too close to his heart and he needs to put us off some, but can't quite bring himself to throw a full scale 2 hour tantrum the way he used to, and his underhanded defiant tactics just aren't satisfying enough. Sooo, we are trying to be disgusting on purpose. The first child did use poop as a keep-away tactic when he was much younger and pee as a revenge tactic too, while in the group home, but being the only child for awhile and being 5 states away from the fear helped immensely. For you, while I don't have any solutions, having read your blog for awhile, I'd say you are probably dealing with situation #2 - you are getting too close to his heart and he may feel that he is getting too safe and healthy. Dangerous ground when comfortable is defined as a keep away game. Though it may strain your senses, I might be tempted to clean him up while giving a loud, cheerful, and somewhat silly lecture on how you just KNOW that he is your boy and that since he's staying for good that he can't chase you away, and that he just MUST know how special he is, etc etc, and then tickle the life out of him and chase him around til he's howling with glee as you chatter on about him thinking he can chase you away with poop, hmmpff. I don't know - sometimes oposites work and total silliness and mock outrage STICK more than any level of rationality or seriousness or temper. At least it's a reset button, if nothing else. Beyond that, ?????

Reba said...

I wish I had some magical answers for you. We haven't had that issue (to that degree). Have you tried the whole, "Maybe you need to be in diapers?" routine? Or would that backfire with him since he is proud? I am thinking about you...hope you figure out some answers SOON!

Anonymous said...

Maybe supervise him the way you would a 3 year old with less freedom. He doesn't do this when someone is watching, however he would still find away to do it. Make hime clean it, instead of doing a special per planned activity. Don't get cross and don't give him a audience just praise his clean up after. Tell him he knew that was going to happen so it was his choice.He can either choose to clean up poo for praise or get praised for a special activity. He does not get to do both. The two things that children know that you can control is what goes in and what comes out. The only area he has absolute control is in what comes out as what goes in can still be influenced by others.
YOU ARE A AMAZING LADY AND A DEVOTED AND CARING MUM: and you will work out a solution, that will help mend everyones MIND,BODY, and SOUL.
Grandma Jo
From South Australia

Diana said...

Yes, we have stress eliminators here, too. Sometimes it is for revenge. Sometimes it's to push us away. Always it is an expression and what seems to them like a logical release of big feelings and stress. When it shows its stuff, I simply say "Looks like you have some big feelings today! Clean it up, get in the shower, and we can snuggle when you're ready." They clean up, they shower, and then we have a nice long snuggle and talk about what is stressing them, what they could have done differently to take care of their own big feelings, what they can do differently next time, and how using poop to express those big feelings isn't a good idea. And then I remind them I'm not leaving and they are safe.

Makes me want to bang my head against the wall!!

BT said...

Fortunately, we seem to be through with this at our end, and our experiences with this were never all that extreme. We took Diana's approach, and I recommend it. It contains a natural consequence (cleaning up after oneself) but no shaming and -- very importantly-- not emotional engaging in teh behaviour by you -- whatever you do, do not let it get a rise out of you. It will get better.