The Honest Mommy

Uncensored thoughts on parenting & more

No discipline is pleasant at the time… June 10, 2010

Oh my, what a day. The extent to which we are trying to compel our children to do the right thing is something I think few, if any, of my friends would understand.

First there is my son Adam, almost 5 years old. He has had a “hold and wet” habit for years, where he will withhold his urine until he slowly wets himself. This goes on for hours sometimes, and I refuse to accept that he isn’t aware of what’s going on. Last weekend, DH and I had had enough of this habit of his, and we agreed to confine him to his stripped-down room until he kept himself dry for three days in a row. A “mistake” would start the three days over again.

Sunday was the day of his offense, so Sunday he spent the entire afternoon until bedtime in his room (except for meals and necessary outings). On Monday, his one break from his room was an outing to Mommy & Me, where he decided he “just didn’t want to go” potty there, and therefore wet himself. On Tuesday, during/after a trip to the grocery store, he wet himself. Wednesday, he managed to stay dry all day, with no real reminders from Mom or Dad. That brings us to today, Thursday. He has kept dry, but has broken the rules a few times, with compelling consequences afterwards.

His first infraction today was that he took a book from a shelf (one of the few things I hadn’t removed from his room) and was looking at it. He tried to quickly put it away when he saw me coming, and he looked very alarmed and guilty. Therefore, I knew that he knew that he was breaking the rules.

Just last night I was reading in John Rosemond’s Parenting by the Book about how consequences need to exceed the seriousness of the offense. I believe he states that if an offense, on a scale of 1 – 10, rates as a 3, the consequence needs to rate as a 6. Keeping that in mind, I sent Adam to sit in a chair for one hour, with no talking, horsing around, or getting up allowed (except for potty breaks). I do hope that this long hour, with nothing to do, impressed upon him the importance of following the rules.

Later, he kept stepping out of his room to have a peek at his little brother (more on this later). At first I felt sympathetic to the idea that it might be hard to remember the rule (he is used to having the door closed or to having a gate there). But after reminding him of the rule five or six times, I felt I was being played. So, I sent him to stand in a corner for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes were up, I had him tell me why he was sent to the corner and also why he was spending three days (more, actually) in his room.

It seems to me that he is becoming a little more humble-minded and meek as time goes by. It seems to me that being “kicked out of the Garden of Eden,” as Rosemond calls it, is giving Adam a lot to think about with regard to his normal privileges and freedoms.

To be continued….


“You’re not the boss of me” — Tales from the trenches August 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 4:29 pm
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Lately, my 4yo son Adam seems determined to show his dad and me, once and for all, that we cannot tell him when and whether to eat or go potty.

(He is right, of course.)

He has developed a pattern where he will complain and complain about being hungry, then when food is served, he eats very little or nothing at all (without much regard for whether it is a favorite food of his or not).

Dealing with this one is fairly straightforward. We have set times, generally, for breakfast, snacks, and dinner. He is welcome to eat or not to eat what is served to him. No snacks until the next snack- or meal-time. We try to keep our response to his choices very low-key or even matter-of-factly cheerful. We also use a timer sometimes to limit the amount of time he can spend dilly-dallying at the table. This is a great strategy because it eliminates the tendency for us to do the following: remind, cajole, bargain, plead, etc. In other words, if we are not invested in the outcome (whether or not he eats), we remove as much drama from the situation as possible.

The potty issue is a bit more complex. Over the last few months, Adam increasingly did the “potty dance” instead of just going potty when he had to go. We dealt with this a few different ways, but finally decided to ignore the potty dance completely. During that time period, one time he completely wet himself while we were in our basement (the potty was on the next floor, but the main problem was that he had waited so incredibly long that once it started flowing, he couldn’t stop it).

Over the last few days, this is the situation we find ourself in: Adam does the potty dance more and more intensely, all the while his dad and I completely ignore the entire issue. After all, as long as a toilet is available to him, and he knows perfectly well how to use it, why should we comment on potty matters at all? If he does get his underpants wet (more than a trivial amount), then into his room he goes for the rest of the day, with only books to keep him company. [If we need to go on errands or take his younger brother for an outing, then Adam can participate only marginally. For example, if his brother is playing in the kiddie pool, Adam is allowed to sit and watch but not play.]

It is so difficult to see him land in his room for the rest of the day. However, he is choosing this “withholding” behavior and no one can decide for him to make different choices. He seems determined to show us that “You’re not the boss of me,” and, well, he is right! He can pee in his underwear every day for the next month if he chooses to. Our job is to show him that his choices have consequences.

This is certainly not the first time that he has used urination as a means of control. He seems rather hung up on “control” in other areas as well. It seems to me that he is apt to take a simple activity like playing catch, and hijack it so that he is doing something completely different from playing by the “rules” of catch. I see how easygoing other kids his age are, and I realize that our Adam just does not want to fit into any mold that someone else has created.

Circle time with songs and activities? Forget it. Craft projects where other kids are having a blast? Forget it. I have this vision of him in kindergarten, and while the other kids are practicing writing the letter of the day, Adam is sitting there scowling and saying “I just don’t want to.”

“I just don’t want to” and “You’re not the boss of me” are his thing right now. Here’s hoping he will move past them at some point in the near future.


Thanks for the kudos, Rosemond! July 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 2:33 pm
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As readers of this blog are no doubt aware, I am a fan of John Rosemond. I have been a member of his website for some time now, and have written in with questions and comments a number of times.

A few weeks ago, I checked his website for the latest column, and was pretty surprised to find that a “story” I had sent to him a year or so ago was the subject of his column for June 30, 2009 (please note that this link will work only for a limited time).

As it turned out, this technique (with the notecard and stickers) was but one technique we used along the rocky path of potty training Kid_1. By the age of 26 months, he had a firm grasp of where to put his pee and poop, BUT when he was not naked from the waist down, he wet his pants more often than not, EXCEPT when he was at Grandma’s house. This told me that he knew how to keep himself dry (without reminders and such), but that for some reason while he was with Dad or Mom, he preferred to hold his urine for so long that eventually it leaked out, little by little.

In retrospect, I can see that the main issue was a power struggle. I never once thought that we had started potty training him too early — the proof was his impeccable potty performance at Grandma’s house (she did not remind him to go; he simply went potty when he needed to).

I have another blog, but since I keep many of my parenting opinions and practices to myself, I would never share this information on that blog. I have too many family and friends who would give me a hard time about (gasp!) gating my son into the bathroom.


Potty training – why do parents wait so long? January 2, 2009

Filed under: Parenting — lotsofopinions @ 11:05 pm

In my circle of friends, I am known as something of a potty training extremist. Why? Because I think the time to start potty training is BEFORE 24 months of age. The funny thing is, it wasn’t so long ago that 24 months was considered late.

My apologies; I have to skedaddle right now. More on this topic later, I promise!