Posts Tagged: Alyson Schafer

Bedtime Potty Training: Using the Toilet After Tuck-ins

The Situation

I recently received an email from a distraught mother who complained that every night after tuck-in time, their 3 1/2-year-old daughter would call out, “Mooooomy, I have to go peeeeeeeee” even though she was put on the potty right before tuck-in every night.

The Way I See It

I suspect that this 3 1/2-year-old has discovered a behavior that mom can’t ignore.  She thinks, “If I’m thirsty or I’m hungry, mom might be able to disregard the complaint.” But what kind of parent wouldn’t respond to a toilet-training-tot when they cry out they need to pee?  After all, we don’t want to be inconsistent. We don’t want to take a step back in bedtime potty training. We don’t want them to be wet all night. So we go and put them on the potty again.  No doubt there is a small conversation, an additional tuck-in kiss, maybe even a song.  It’s really a very social experience for the child.

(Note: This late-night bonus socializing is the “usefulness” that sustains the nightly behavior that we need to address in finding our solution: undue attention-seeking.)

The Immediate Solution

Lose the “payoff” or social benefit of these extra night-time potty visits mom is making by teaching the child self-sufficiency.

During the day, take time for training (T.T.F.T.).  Show your child how to pull their own pants up and down, and practice wiping themselves. You might find wet wipes are easier for kids than dry toilet paper.  They can wipe first and then you can be the “checker” until you are satisfied they have the manual dexterity to get the job done properly.

Once they have this skill, you can put night lights in the hall and explain that they don’t need to call you to go to the washroom: “You are so capable! You can go to the toilet and tuck right back in all by yourself!”

You may also opt to simply leave a potty in their room with some wet wipes and hand sanitizer (again, after some T.T.F.T.).

Some children find this new limit exciting and want to test it out. However, after a night or two, most children prefer to void before bed since they no longer have a successful stalling/attention tactic, and they just get on with going to bed.

The Long-Term Strategy

As with all the behavior guidance tips, you’re not going to have long-term success unless we solve the unmet goal of feeling encouraged. Every child needs to feel secure about their worth and place of belonging in their social group (the family or classroom).  That means parents need to bring on the encouragement and connecting time with our children during those times when they are not demanding our undue attention.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

If You Hit, You Sit

“If you hit, you sit (out)” is a great short and snappy way of remembering and offering a logical consequence to your kids for bad behaviour, such as hitting. Even better, it meets the requisite 3 R’s of consequences: respectful, related and revealed in advance.

If your find your toddler hitting, the consequence must be logical to them: “If you choose to play co-operatively you may stay here with your friends. If you choose to hit, which is unsafe, you must go somewhere else because we need to feel safe when we play together. When you decide to play without hitting we would love to have you back”.

Here’s my advice on how to use a time out (the “sit”) properly:

1. Of utmost importance: the length of time is decided by the child. Whenever they decide to choose to play without hitting they can come back.

2. The emphasis is on participating in the group with safe pro-social behaviours that meet the needs of the situation. It is about safety and other ways to problem solve, not about being “nice” or “not doing what you’re told” which is all about listening to authority figures.

3. I recommend not using the phrase “time out” as it is has a negative connotation with children.

4. I recommend the child stay close to the fun they want to get back to rather than hiking all the way to their bedroom. You want the children to be motivated to quickly decide to act differently and come back ASAP.

5. Do not have a time out chair/area – that introduces a stigma which is punitive, and speaks to having negative expectations for the child’s future behaviour. Very discouraging.

6. “One minute of time-out for every year” (often recommended by time-out proponents) is NOT a good method. If the child decides they want to come back and there is still time on the clock, they’ll spend the remaining time building resentment and anger, and the child may seek revenge.

TTFT: Take time for training

After the time out, try saying the following:

  • “Our hands are for hugging and holding” (Invites the behaviour we want to see)
  • “It is not okay to hit people. We need to feel safe when we play.” (Be clear, not angry)
  • “You need to speak up and use your words – not your hands.” (Help start problem solving through verbalizing)

Once you have said these things once – YOU ARE DONE. They are bright, they heard you. After all, how many times did you have to tell them that cookies are kept in the cookie jar on the counter?

To recap:

Offer Choice: “Can you stay and play safely or do you need to go?”

Follow Through: “I see (because you keep hitting) that you need to go” and guide them to the side of the room or someplace neutral on the sidelines of the action out of the centre of the action.

Action Not Words: Once they’ve been in this time out once, you can just take their hand and guide them to the side. No words needed.

Firm and Friendly: Watch that body language. Stay calm and composed. Your emotions, disapproval, or exasperated looks interfere with the learning.

Remember: When they choose to come back – that is fine. “Hi – I am glad you’ve chosen to come back. It’s more fun when we play all together.”

Tip: Don’t go overboard with this noticing. If you do they may decide that is enough payoff to encourage them to get themselves into time outs just so they can steal the show with a grand re-entrance! And this does happen.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

Attention Seeking Behavior: Jumping on Furniture

Do your children just love that amazing upholstered trampoline in your living room – the one better known as a couch?  This piece of furniture is home to every toddler’s “Couch Jumping Olympics” training.

This event usually involves parents barking from the sidelines:

“The couch is not for jumping. Get off right now.”

“You know we don’t jump on the couch. How many times do I have to tell you that?”

“Get down this minute – if I catch you up there one more time…”

Whatever your favorite little phrase is, have you noticed it does nothing to get a response until you start walking over to the couch to get them down?

Why is that?

It’s because most often, it’s really just a brilliant way for kids to get our attention. If you get on the phone or start making supper, they simply have to start jumping on the sofa to get you to stop what you’re doing and “deal with them” (pay attention to them, be involved with them, etc.).

You will find that our words are the least effective  parenting tool, in fact the constant reminding and nagging is the attention (albeit  negative) that they seek! When you nag them, you are giving them a payoff for this behavior. You are getting involved with them and that re-enforces rather than diminishes the behavior!

Children learn from what happens. So instead of words, try the following action:

 

DAY ONE – Setting the stage for action

“The couch is not for jumping” (This is educational, so say it once and only once. No need to tell a child something they already know – it’s disrespectful to the child.)

“You may jump on this cushion on the floor, or you can jump outside.” (Redirection)

Child continues…

“Can you get down on your own or do you need some help?” (Offer choice)

Child continues jumping…

“I see you need some help.” (Always respond to what they decide with their behavior NOT their words.)

Help them off the couch in a pleasant manner. (Following through, firm and friendly.)

If they go back to jumping on the couch…

“I see you’re having trouble being in this room with the couch and not jumping on it. Do you think you can manage that or do you need to leave the room?”

If they go back to jumping on the couch…

“I see you’ve chosen not to be in this room – you can try again later. Can you leave on your own or do you need some help?”

Child doesn’t move…

Move the child, and close off the room with a baby gate.

 

*DAY TWO*

Child is jumping on the couch.

Mother goes over and reaches out a hand.

Child doesn’t take the hand.

Mother moves the child off the couch to another room in the house and puts up a baby gate to that room.

No words said – the child understands perfectly.

 

*DAY THREE*

Repeat day two, but child will probably take your hand or race out of the room themselves, they know the deal now.

 

*DAY FOUR*

Child doesn’t jump on couch since it no longer gets the desired result of getting negative attention.

By this time, your days of aggravation should be numbered.

And remember this rule of thumb: for every moment you ignore undue attention-seeking behavior, you need to spend twice as much time being attentive and present and engaged positively with your child when they are not demanding it.

Good luck!

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

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