Sunday, October 14, 2012

Holding in BMs

Dear Kay:

My almost 4 year old periodically holds in her BMs. We went through a severe phase when she was holding in so long she had several leak accidents per day. Then we started her on a stool softener & mineral oil, this made the accident worse even though she started going poop in the potty. So we stopped the oil, but continue the softener every other day or so.

She proudly announces when she has had no accidents, but then still screams about having to get on the potty. Every now and then she will get on the potty and go- but then we start a whole new cycle. I am almost in tears every night. She is a VERY stubborn child, and I know making a big deal of this is making it worse, but I am lost. We have tried everything; punishment, reward, demanding she sit on the potty and ignoring her yelling until she does something. Everything seems to have worked once. I even told her she couldn't have her friend over because she was having accidents.

The next day, she didn't have an accident for the 1st time in a couple of weeks, and after announcing it- immediately asked to have her friend over. That is when I knew this is her control issue, not just a fear of painful poops. Although, that is how it may have started in the beginning- she has an affinity for cheese and I am not sure that her Dad monitors her food intake very carefully when she is at his house.

We are divorced just at a year now, and both of us have moved on, and have a good relationship as co-parents, but maybe her schedule is making her take control in this BM issue. By the way, she will sneak off and go sit down so she can "hold it in". When I catch her, she still won't go potty even though she has obviously just had a little accident.

I don't know what to do.
Any advice?
Steph

Dear Steph:

You may not like my answer and actually you provided it yourself. "She is a VERY stubborn child, and I know making a big deal of this is making it worse, but I am lost."You are making a big deal out of this. How is it working for you? or her? You say your are lost and yet keep up with the POWER STRUGGLE. Let go!

She will go to the bathroom in time. Parents often worry about getting their children potty trained before school. Trust me when I say peer pressure is real and can be more painful than any other part of growing up. Let her have her accidents and ask her to clean them up.

DO NOT PUNISH! PUNISHMENT NEVER WORKS! Keep up with the praise and DO NOT RESPOND when she has an accident. Even negative reinforcement will INCREASE the behavior. This is not the worst thing she could be doing to get attention. It is just inconvenient. Remember who the parent is and just move past this. She maybe acting out about the divorce. Did she get some divorce counseling for children? Anybody read her a few of the great books on divorce? What about routines? Is her routine consistent? I am not asking about schedules. There is a BIG difference between routines and schedules.

Feel free to peruse previous postings on this topic.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller