As those who read regularly know, toileting has been a long term issue for our family.
We've been concentrating on our younger son this year in preparation for starting full days at school next year. He's done very well at learning to recognize when he needs to go to the bathroom but is having a mental block at applying these skills to BMs.
I've been trying to encourage positive associations. He was getting a marshmallow or cookie when he had a BM. Then we moved to him getting a treat if he told us he'd had an accident.
And there we have stalled.
I have not been able to translate this into having him become more aware of his body and thus be able to go in the toilet.
When we began, I was determined not to use a shame technique. Aside from my abhorrence of turning a normal bodily function into something hidden and shameful, I had the support of various psychologists who warned that punishment only teaches children to hide their accidents rather than motivating them to learn.
Now I'm wondering if I've made a mistake on that front. We've been stalled for several months for moving forward with the next steps. Clearly the reward is not sufficient to overcome his reluctance.
But I'm very reluctant to add a punishment to the mix. I worry about undoing the good work we've done so far.
I have yet to find a book or guide which tells me how to overcome an internal reluctance. All of them assume or relying on a child's willingness to learn. They talk about how children may not be sufficiently aware and how to increase that awareness. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. After all, it's not exactly something you can force.
I have heard of parents who have given their children diuretics so they could effectively "time" the BM and thus reward being on the toilet when it happened. This strikes me as a not acceptable option. That's a lot of stress to put on a little digestive system.
Of course, even as I type, there's a part of me saying: but if it works?
That's the challenge as a parent. I want success and that can tempt me down paths I otherwise wouldn't consider. I do believe it's important to think outside the box and not be judgmental but I also believe it's important to use empathy and common sense and be aware of how these decisions will affect your child.
I'll have to do some more thinking before settling on a strategy. I think I've come to an end of what positive techniques such as social stories and rewards can do for me. But I'll have to think long and hard before adding anything else to the mix.