About a week or two after she stared school, she got the hang of using the potty all the time. That lasted for a week or so, and then she decided that she could poop in her pants. This was bad enough, but Sammy has always been a frequent pooper, so it often meant 3 accidents per day. At one point, I had found poop in her underwear when I picked her up from school every day for at least 2 weeks. We made a big deal about not having accidents at school and she's been doing better lately, but it just means that the accidents happen at home now.
More recently, she has reduced her poops to once per day, usually. That is something of a relief, but the whole problem is starting to wear on me. I haven't done much about it because everything I've read and been told implies that there is nothing that I can do, and I should expect accidents. But this is insane. Here are some definitions of "accident:"
- An unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance (Nope - I know it's going to happen every day)
- Lack of intention or necessity (Nope - I know she can poop in the potty; at some level, she is choosing not to)
- Used euphemistically to refer to an involuntary act or instance of urination or defecation (This is supposed to be the definition I'm looking for but, nope - it's not involuntary; I know she can control it if she puts the effort into it)
- An unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance (OK, this might be an accurate description)
I guess my point is that these are not really accidents. She has just chosen to stop using the potty. Last week, in a moment of extreme frustration, I decided to try something. Since she can not be trusted to use the potty on her own, I am going to have to force her to sit on it at regular intervals every day. (I've never made her "try" to go to the potty. I found that she would never, ever go when told, but if she did it at the time of her choosing, she'd be fine. I might ask, "Do you need to use the potty?" before leaving the house, but if she says "No" then I let it go. This has never caused pee accidents. I totally trust her with that. Adam makes her try, but I think he's wasting his time.)
So now, every morning and a few times each afternoon, I tell her she must sit on the potty for one minute. I also force her to sit on it if I hear grunting noises. I know that she will never poop during that minute. But I'm trying to impose a consequence for her pooping in her pants. She obviously does not care about being dirty, despite the conventional wisdom that kids don't like to have accidents or to be dirty. I've explained to her that the reason we are doing this is that I can't trust her to go on her own. I've already explained to her what it costs me when she poops in her pants. I wish I could make her clean it up, but obviously she isn't ready for that. I've explained about germs and wasted time and wasted money (we've thrown out so many pairs of underwear that I can't keep track anymore). None of that seems to matter to her. But I know that she hates to be told what to do, so that's what is going to happen now. If she doesn't sit on the potty, I will hold her down. Luckily, we haven't had to resort to that yet.
This technique worked with another problem we had a few weeks ago. Sammy had stopped following me when we were walking together. It could take a half hour to walk the 20 paces from the playground to the car and get her strapped in. I've never been one to hold her hand and drag her around, but after putting up with these delays for a while, I told her that she had lost the privilege of walking by herself and that we had to hold hands whenever we were walking somewhere. I told her we would do it for one week, and that's all it took. After a week, she got her privilege back and she's been much better about sticking with me since. She still needs constant reminders, but she listens. I'm hoping that forcing the potty issue will work the same way. I told her we'd start with a week, but that if she was still having accidents, that we'd keep doing it until she had learned to poop in the potty every single time.
So far, we've only had minor success. She's put a couple of tiny nuggets in the potty, but it is obvious that she is holding it as long as possible and then losing control when she can't hold it anymore. But I'm sticking with it until and unless I have a better idea. Now, I'm off to do more laundry...