February 24, 2013,
K.S. asks from Salem, OR on October 23, 2008
4 1/2 Year Old PEES Bed DELIBERATELY!!!
Hi, i have a 4 1/2 year old daughter and she has been potty trained since 22 months and did great in the day at keeping dry but just 2 years ago quit peeing her bed. (she wore pullups) Now my husband and i added our second child to the family last December and after that my 4 year old started wetting the bed all over again. so i thought ok she is jealous. i bought pullups again and she soaked them every night. then i tried spending more time with her, one one one just her and i. still she pees the bed! its to the point where i change her sheets DAILY and wash her clothes daily! they reak of pee. my room REAKS of pee! she sleeps in my room with my husband and i on the floor on her bed. So 2 weeks ago my inlaws came for a visit and my mother in law and i were talking and she said Hailey smelled like pee......so i said yeah she pees the bed. so later that day i went out to do some errands and left her here with her grandma. she talked to her and she told her that she pees the bed cause she wants to be a baby like Emma! (my 10 month old). so my mother in law said no your a big girl and big girls dont wet the bed. she got mad and said i will never stop peeing the bed and i do it cause it makes my mommy MAD. so i thought i would talk to her. well, she told me the same thing! i told her if she tried really hard not to pee the bed then she would be rewarded. she just said NO and yelled at me and stomped off. she didnt want rewards she wants to be a baby. i am at my wits end with this kid right now. she is 4 1/2 and she just is such a monster! she is always being mean to her little sister, everything is NO and i dont have to, you cant make me. and her newest thing when she is in trouble she picks up her pretend cellphone and calls the police on me and tells them i am a mean mommy and she wants them to come get me!! she has always been a monster but now its just getting worse. and now that i know she is peeing the bed on purpose i dont know what to do!!!!! anyone have this problem??? i need HELP!! im ready to dial SUPER NANNY!!!!!!!!
B.B. answers from Portland on October 24, 2008
I would first make her start cleaning everything up herself with strictly enforced consequences. Then I would come up with a good reward for when she changes. One idea -If you have the abillity to give her a big girl room all to herself you should make a big show of getting it ready. Painting the walls, putting a nice bed and new blankets in it. Then take all of her big girl toys and set them up in her big girl room. Let her help set it up and put things away. Then close the door and let her earn the privilege of using it. Until she is ready to be a big girl with a new big girl room, she can play with baby toys, wear diapers, eat baby food, take 2 naps a day, etc.
P.M. answers from Portland on October 23, 2008
Wow, K., your statement "she has always been a monster but now its just getting worse" is a sign of deep trouble. I hear in that label that at least two possible things that could be going on.
One is that Hailey has one of many possible developmental or personality disorders. Very few parents would describe a 4-year-old as "always" having been a monster, even in a moment of stress. It sounds like you have a really tough time with her. She also sounds very clever, so you should be able to have some reasonable communication with her. Have you described her behavior to your pediatrician? It might be worth having her evaluated for underlying problems that could be treatable, if she is really beyond reasoning and calm discipline.
Another is that you are over-stressed by trying to parent two kids when you weren't having too much success with just one (and maybe another one coming - good heavens!), in which case you might do yourself a tremendous favor by getting good family counseling, parenting classes, and/or reading lots of books on parenting. A need for training is nothing to be ashamed of, either. Kids don't come with instruction manuals, and mamas may not have had the best modeling of good parenting themselves. Sometimes there's even a personality mismatch between a parent and child that creates special challenges.
I was the first child of a mom who was pretty dysfunctional and needy, and so my parenting chops needed plenty of tuning up. I read every parenting book I could get my hands on during pregnancy and for the first several years of my daughter's life, and they were wonderful. They took me from an uncertain, inconsistent parent to a mommy who really "got" my little girl, and we had a terrific relationship. I know it's hard to find time to read – I worked full-time while my daughter was still very young, and my husband was seldom home, or when he was, he needed constant babying himself. So finding time to better myself was really tough. And it was the best investment of my time I could possibly have made.
One other thing that jumps out at me is that you asked your daughter why she pees (to be like a baby), but you didn't ask her what she needs from you and her daddy to change her behavior. I wonder if you could have that conversation with her. You could find out what she needs that she feels she's not getting (really, few children will choose negative behavior and consequences unless they are desperately certain they will not get their needs met any other way). And she doesn't have the life experience to know that things will eventually turn around as her baby sister grows older.
Now, this does not mean you have to give her what she says she wants. But you can acknowledge her legitimate needs, and express a wish to make her happy, and assure her that you love her (you do, yes?), and tell her how you'll do your best to meet her halfway if she can come the other half. If she feels that you recognize that she is hardly more than a baby herself, and that you care that she is hurting, you might be amazed by a change of heart. She didn't ask to be brought into your family, and it sounds like she is suffering.
I hear other moms suggesting that you be harsh with her. It sounds like plenty of harshness exists already, and is not helping. Try gentleness, and see if that helps. I've transformed teenage delinquents with little more than respect and tenderness. It seems counterintuitive to some adults, but it works where nothing else did.
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L.E. answers from Seattle on October 25, 2008
My little girl is now 17 and it seems that she was just 4 it happens in a flash. I am a bit concerned by the amount of advice that encourages you to punish her for this behavior. Please remember that she is trying to communicate to the best of her little four year old ability. She sounds amazingly bright and articulate. She sounds sad and left out to me and is trying to get your attention even though it is bad attention. Remember that sometimes any attention is good attention when you are desperate. I think the advice of letting her know that her baby sister is also her's is right on. Try not to take this personally which is difficult at the moment yet when you look back on this years down the road it will look differently. My daughter acted out at the same age during a very stressful time and I didn't always handle it with love and feel badly about that now. If you can use love and patience (not my strong suit ;-))you will be able to never have future regrets. This will pass and you will have different challenges as she grows up. Good luck and give her all the love you can you will feel better about you and her. Cheers, L.
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M.T. answers from Seattle on October 25, 2008
Dear K., (and anyone else who encounters a mother who has a child exhibiting signs of regression as a result of the birth of a younger child),
I am not a therapist and always encourage people to seek out a knowledgable therapist to the extent that they are able to afford it. In the meantime, I will share what I have learned from capable, caring, qualified therapists through the years.
It is not uncommon for children to exhibit signs of regression with the birth and introduction of a new child to the family. Contrary to the instinct of many parents, the best course of action is actually to provide nurturing to the age level that is being exhibited by the child. So, this 4 1/2 year old who is wetting the bed and asking for infantile nurturance, well, you can actually hold and rock that child in a similar manner that you would an infant. You might have her hold her sippy cup and encourage her to drink from it like it was a bottle. Give her baby time. Give her that nurturance. Then, when it comes time to clean up the soiled bed sheets, have her be in charge of that. Have her take off the dirty sheets, carry them to the washer, carry the clean sheets to the bed, and make up the new bed. If you have her be in charge of this process, over time she will get tired of cleaning up and quit peeing in the bed. Natural consequences (people have to clean up their bed if they pee in it) combined with providing the nurturance being sought (in this case, holding, rocking) will allow your child to successfully advance through this phase to more age-appropriate behavior.
Remember, we are teaching our children, so let's try meet their needs with kindness and talk them through their expectations without yelling, blaming, or shaming. Also, know that good parenting is something learned over time and that if you are doing a good job of things 80% of the time, you are doing an excellent job!
(M., if you pass this along, please just refer to me as your sister who has worked in residential child care facilities; I do not want to be accused of practicing therapy without a license. - thanks!)
An addendum to our last posting from a therapist friend...
I would advise the mother to try not to be punitive at all on the bed wetting. It is best to be very matter of fact about her daughter having to change her sheets again, and even expressing sympathy for her having to do all of that work.
She might also find ways to reinforce how great it is to be the older one and remind her of the things she gets to do that the baby can’t do.
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E.H. answers from Portland on October 24, 2008
I'm with Peg on this one. I'm not sure punishment or harsh consequences are the way to go in this situation. I know her behavior must be infuriating, but it sounds like she's trying to reach out to you in a way that she knows will get her attention, even if it is negative. Sometimes it's hard to remember that our little ones are just that - little - and they don't always have the tools or reasoning capabilities that adults do.
The fact that you referred to your daughter as a monster twice in your posting also tells me that you might be overwhelmed. At 24, you have a lot on your plate kid-wise, and I'm sure that being a SAHM can be extremely challenging and exhausting. Is there any way you can get some help from friends or family, both with the kids and/or just to get some time for yourself? Even an hour a week all by yourself (or with your spouse) can do wonders.
Good luck to you. I hope everything works out for the best!
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T.R. answers from Portland on October 24, 2008
K., it looks like you've gotten a lot of advice so far. I saw a video on "difficult" children before I had mine, and the thing I took from it it "children do well if they can". If you keep that in mind, it may help. Your daughter wants to be a good kid, and she will if she can. She's reaching out the only way she knows in order to get what she needs.
I hope you are able to figure things out quickly to help both her and your entire family.
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L.D. answers from Portland on October 24, 2008
Hey there~ Congrats on the new baby (babies). Now for the "old" one...take a deep breath...
Yes, it's on purpose, but not on purpose to be mean. It's to get your undivided attention. She feels left out and that the baby is loved more, and she is going to do whatever it takes to get you to pay attention to ONLY HER, even if you are yelling. Try never to punsih her for the peeing. Clean it up and ignore it. Hard I know, but blaming, making her clean, chastising or shaming will only make it worse. Two things that will help:
1. Make some time for just her. Even if it is only a trip to the grocery store, invite her and tell her "Emma is staying home with daddy, because I want to be with just you". Try to do this a few times a week. Invite her to color with you, without holding Emma or having Emma distract you, bring her into the shower with you, whatever is just you and her. Ask Daddy to try to do some Hailey only things too.
2. Let her know that you still love her even if she's big, but give her some babying. Coo and cuddle, ask if you can dress her, kiss her feeties, rub her with lotion...do what you do to a baby. She is grieveing the loss of that and it makes her sad and angry. In turn, she will make you sad and angry, Make her feel loved and cherished, and she will be safe enough to stop fighting for attention.
A two pronged approach of showing the perks of being the biggest girl (stuff alone with mommy) and some babying to show she is still your little love should work.
As for being mean to Emma, absolute "NO", and no flexibility. Hang in there - I have a tough first daughter too, who is now 9 and much better :-)
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K.O. answers from Portland on October 23, 2008
It sounds to me like your big girl is needing some special mommy attention, and this is her way of getting it. Try to find a way to spend some time alone with her, doing something she likes. Try to keep this activity going on a regular basis, I'll bet she'll come around once she sees how much nicer it is to get positive attention rather than negative.
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K.I. answers from Spokane on October 23, 2008
I think you got some good advice already, the cleaning up after herself and getting treated like a baby. I would just like to comment about the fact that you say she is a monster and always has been...You as the mommy need to nip that in the bud...It's not going to get better all by itself. If you stand by and do nothing about her behavior in hopes that she will grow out of it, you are going to be in for rude awakening! Give her some rules and stick to them. When she doesnt follow them there has to be consequences. You say you have 2 kids with one more on the way?...they are going to learn how to act by watching there big sister...I'd get on that pretty quick like.
Dont forget...You are the Mommy, it's your responsibility to teach them and you can do it!
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