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ashj_1218 March 21st, 2013 01:51 PM

"Age-appropriate"? I need input
I am struggling at the moment with Liam. He is actually in a really good stage overall. He has become so funny, engaging, and entertaining. He has also seemed to "turn the corner" in regards to his brother. They are playing nicely together most of the time and some of the jealousy issues seem to have waned off. He is generally a happy and fun kid.

BUT...we have two areas that are really "getting to me." I feel lost as to what to do over all, so many conflicting things in my head.

The first is that he still has a pacifier. He has always been a huge paci kid and we never discouraged it. When he was two, we started cutting down the frequency of his using it. And around 3 we even tried to get rid of it all together. But he wasn't ready, emotionally, and I felt that since we encouraged the idea of an attachment object, it wasn't really fair for ME to decide when he got rid of it. So we allowed it back, in his bed and the car on long trips. But lately, he is regressing. He tries to take it all over the house, he tries to sneak it into the car on regular trips, he will take the one Kieran has out of his mouth (they use the same one and we don't restrict Kierans use of it yet.) I struggle with it because I still do believe that he must have an emotional connection to it. He uses it to calm himself down, he is comforted by it much like a blanket or lovey. He just never attached to those items. But I do dislike the idea of my 3.5 year old having it more than naps and bedtime. I feel like society tells me he is "too big" for it and, of course, his teeth are suffering for it (you can tell he uses one by his teeth pattern). But in the grand scheme of things...why am I concerned what society thinks and why should I be the one to tell my child when he is done using something that doesn't *really* hurt anything. I am so torn as to whether I should continue to enforce bed only, if I should ease up and allow him this time of regression and hope he moves back to using I less, or if I should start to try and detach him from it all together. I just don't know.

Which brings me to the other issue. He also absolutely refuses to potty train. We did the no-diaper, nakey time thing for two weeks back in January. He peed and pooped all over the house, started refusing to even sit on the potty, and then just flat out would have a tantrum over the use of the potty. We tried bribes next (M&Ms for pottying). But that also failed and he just started asking for diapers. So we stopped. But, again, it's hard because I feel like I *should* be working harder on it. But I don't know what to do about it. He just doesn't seem ready. He doesn't tell me when he pees or poops in his diapers, he doesn't willingly get diaper changes (he would sit in poo for hours if I let him). And honestly, I am not spending money on diapers...so why should I really care how long he is in them? I am just so confused.

I sort of feel like he is a bit behind his peers in such ways. I doubt the two things together mean anything. He is perfectly on track in the main ways (talking, physical skills, emotional understanding, social ability). But I have moment of feeling like I must be doing something wrong for him to need to hold onto these "baby" habits. I know getting my self-esteem involved doesn't help matters. I clearly can't MAKE him do something he isn't ready for. Nor would I want to. But admittedly, I don't know what to do.

Thoughts? Do I just let him call the shots and follow his lead? Or do I start pressing the issue (possibly at the detriment to my sanity. Lol)?

shen7 March 21st, 2013 03:16 PM

I have gotten to that age yet with my LO(s) so I can't speak from experience. But I do want to tell you about my nephew bc he had a VERY similar resistance to potty learning at that age. He is a very smart kid and not overtly willful but very much the passive resistance type... he just totally refused and wanted diapers instead. My SIL thought basically "oh well, let him wear diapers then" and the preschool was okay with it and everything. We all figured the peer pressure at school would get him to come around as fewer and fewer kids were still in diapers at his age. Well basically what happened is he started holding his poop a lot so that he wouldn't need a diaper change, he started feeling embarrassed by them, but also wouldn't have to give in and use the potty. Over a year or so he slowly developed serious chronic constipation and a distended colon and now he HAS to stay in diapers/pull-ups bc he is on laxatives to allow his colon to heal, and lacks bowel control. The laxatives started just after age 4 and he will be on them until he is 5. I was shocked bc I had heard about such things occurring with babies who were harshly potty trained before they had proper muscle control or whatever, but never with kids whose parents had gone slow and not pushed them at all. This is probably a really unlikely scenario for you bc my nephew's personality is very distinctive and it is not like a common thing... but just maybe something to watch for as the worst that could happen. I honestly think if I were you (what I plan to do with M when she outgrows her diapers if she is still not PLed) is just make the switch to underwear full time all day. Since you have cloth diapers you can make a big show of packing Liam's up and not having them out anymore. And be prepared for a whole bunch of nasty accidents... but eventually he will get the picture you are serious and you can do some rewards/excitement when he does use the potty but focus mainly on how this is the new order of things and there is no chance of going back. I know with baby girl on the way this will not be something you want to do anytime soon, I wouldn't in your shoes!, but it is there as a last resort, like maybe when he turns 4 or something it can be "4 year olds don't wear diapers".

I also have personal memories of my little brother's pacifier goodbye ceremony. He was 4 or so I think. We got them all together and said goodbye and took them to the trash. It was funereal and very solemn, he cried but was resigned, and then I think he got a new Ernie doll or something for being so brave. Not sure if that would work since Liam can just grab Keiran's though... but there are plenty of kids out there who have trouble giving up pacis, so don't feel bad!!! :)

Good luck mama. It sounds like Liam is doing great overall so don't beat yourself up over these two little things. As they say, he won't be going to college in diapers and with a paci ;)

NinjaCakes March 21st, 2013 05:27 PM

Re: "Age-appropriate"? I need input
I really don't like the term age appropriate - most things labeled with that aren't specifically linked to a particular age. That's just the label society has (ridiculously) put on those things. I think it's more about the individual child and their developmental stage. Also, regression is a very normal occurrence. Especially with a younger sibling around. I wouldn't worry about it too much unless it continues longer than 6 months to a year.

Anyway, obviously I can't say what is right for him. I don't know him or where he is psychologically/physically. I do think the teeth issue can be a big factor, but that's my individual perspective. You do have to weigh the health of his teeth (which can be fixed with dental work later) against his emotional health (which is so much harder to fix). And it's hard to know if he really does need those comfort items, or if he needs a gentle push to the next stage.

I've known kids who potty trained all on their own. I've also known kids who would have rather bitten their own fingers off than potty train. Truth be told, I think "it will happen when they're ready" has a good deal of merit. There's always the chance that you just haven't found the right motivator for him yet - the most stubborn child I've ever known was potty trained in a matter of days when her parents resorted to money as a motivator. It may be that he just isn't ready, though.

Consider Vygotsky's zone of proximal development. Sometimes children need to be shown there is another way and then they can do it. Sometimes no matter how many times you show them they just aren't ready yet.

KMH March 21st, 2013 05:49 PM

Re: "Age-appropriate"? I need input
I don't feel qualified to really respond since my kids are younger, but we did get rid of Claire's paci earlier this year (she'll be 3 in July). She LOVES Thomas the Train, so I bought her a little Thomas Pillow Pet. One afternoon I showed it to her and she went nuts over him. I told her that if she wanted Thomas, she had to trade in her paci. She had to think for a minute, but she chose Thomas...I wanted her to be the one to make the choice. The first nap without the paci she woke early, and the first night she woke up once in tears asking for the paci. I reminded her that she traded it for Thomas, and she snuggled Thomas and went back to sleep. After that we were fine, and she'll still tell me that she doesn't need a paci because she has Thomas. Maybe Liam would choose something else over the paci for his new comfort item?

(((HUGS))) I say screw what is considered "age appropriate" and do what is best for him...you know him better than anyone!

ohnicole March 21st, 2013 06:16 PM

Re: "Age-appropriate"? I need input
I can't really say for sure what I would do in your situation since Eleanor is still so young, but I think that in general, kids tend to be ready for a change before we can accept that they're ready. They don't necessarily like the change while it's happening, because we all know that change is scary and that it's hard to lose something that we're comfortable with, but often if we do give them that push, it turns out they were ready and that the new normal is healthier for them. And I also think that it's easy for little ones to tell when we are really serious about something and when we are just testing something out because we're nervous it's too soon.

Like the other ladies, I don't think there is a time when something is necessarily age appropriate or not. I do think that we should listen to our own instincts, though, and it seems like a part of you feels like he is ready to move forward. I think if I were in your situation, I would pick one of the two issues and just move forward all the way.

Easier said than done, I know :hug:

MommyofAngels1985 March 21st, 2013 11:35 PM

Re: "Age-appropriate"? I need input
My oldest just turned two years old in February so we just started her potty training last month, so far she has used the potty maybe 2 dozen times and after the first time she now tells us she when she has to go potty, but half the time I think she only does it for the m&m's :smile:. She doesn't say "potty" she says "pie" but we know what she means and on the way to the potty she is already asking for "bite bites" haha. So I think it is good to keep enforcing the potty thing because it will naturally take awhile to get it down and doctors recommend getting them potty trained starting at two because the older they get the more their, "I don't want to" personality will set in and it could be even harder for them.

She never had a pacifier, we actually tried to give her own as a baby but she would just spit it out. The thing that soothes her is she will kiss the back of her hand or her finger tip or knee. She has been doing that since she was probably 6 months old. My husband and I said we would ween her from doing that when she turned two but we kind of let it slide since it does soothe her and it's not like it hurts her to continue. She only really does it when she is trying to fall alseep or if she got told "no" she will do it too.

alittlelost March 22nd, 2013 07:41 AM

Re: "Age-appropriate"? I need input
Both of these things are really hard to advise on because it really depends on YOUR family unit and how YOU want to handle things.

For the paci, I would ask myself if I think it's creating any problems in his development. Would I worried about teeth growing in bad, or is that not a factor for my kid at that time. Is it delaying his speech? Do I care if those things do become problems? If I had concerns, outside what other people might think, then I would work toward eliminating the paci use by giving him new ways to comfort himself. How I approached it would depend on my child. IF I wanted him off the paci, I wouldn't want to make them want to paci more by insisting he didn't use it. Either way, I might ask myself why he regressed to doing it more lately. (Regressions are actually pretty normal in kids. A lot of kids learn something, regress, then learn it for good. Or start to give something up, then cling to it again, then give it up for good. It seems to be the development stages of change...)

As for potty training, I wouldn't push it. I wouldn't even try to overly-encourage it. (Kids can sometimes pick up on that as pressure, so bribes don't work for everyone!). I might not be the best person to ask, though, because a lot of people like to potty train their kids young, and I prefer waiting until they are ready enough (physically and emotionally) for most of it to happen in a week or two max. Why do YOU feel like you "should" be working harder on it? That's important, too. If you think he needs to potty train soon because of what other people will think, then you might want to consider you are creating stress for yourself, too, which kids can pick up on, and stress hinders potty training.

Also try to keep in mind that if he has a younger sibling, he might be worried about not being the baby anymore. If this is a possibility, play "baby games" with him. Tell him that even when he is a big boy doing fun, big boy things, he'll always be your baby. Just basically make an effort to help him realize you are just as much his mom and always, even if he becomes a "big boy" by potty training. (No need to talk about potty training during this time, though--you don't want to put that connection in his head if it's not there. But it's always good to let your kids know these things anyway, IMO, so IF he made that connection already on his own, it will undo itself in time as he starts to feel more peace in his role of still your baby).

That said, if you want to still work on that right now, then don't make potty training about rewards OR refusals. Just make it a thing. Try starting slow, like only using the potty first thing in the morning and after naps. When he wakes up, say "Good morning, sunshine! Time to sit on the potty before breakfast!" If he says he doesn't want to go potty say, "That's okay, you don't have to pee or poop on the potty. You just have to sit on the potty for 1 minute before breakfast, like Mommy and Daddy do." And take his hand and go. work your way up to longer times sitting on the potty, but really, I wouldn't make it too long. You can also give him things to do while sitting on the potty. Like reading him a book (just a regular book, not a book about potty training. If a kid is't excited about potty training, then IMO videos and books ABOUT potty training add more pressure.)

Once he starts going more on the potty, then add in more potty times. Let him know, every time that you sit on the potty, "You can also let me know when you have to go. When you start letting me know and going on your own, we don't have to use it at the same time every day!" When you are ready to try undies and clothes (be prepared to do a lot of laundry) just jump right in with it. If he has an accident, say "That's okay. Put your clothes in the hamper (we had a separate basket in our house for this purpose) and clean yourself up." Meanwhile go get his change of clothes. When you bring him his change of clothes, you can help him clean his body up the rest of the way. Let him put on his new clothes. When he is done, say, ""Here's a towel wipe the pee on the floor." When he's done, direct him to put the towel in the hamper. Do everything calmly. He's not in trouble, you aren't mad, it's no big deal--BUT it's his responsibility now. It teaches him to be responsible for his bathroom needs and encourages him to use the potty (easier than cleaning up!). But personally, I'd wait for this step until you see more progress with scheduled potty trips.

Also, before you start any of this, I'd take a small break from trying, even if it's only for 2 weeks or a month, so you get a completely fresh start and any pressure he might feel is lifted before you try again. Handle things very "matter of fact" with no emotion and it won't be stressful for either of you.

All that said, I can only speak for what worked for us. Two of our kids have special needs to we basically did our training based on the advice of trained therapists. But it worked! And apparently this method has been uses on "typical" (not special needs) kids too and works just as well for them. It made potty training quick and painless for me, especially when I knew to just not let it be a big deal to me and that it WILL happen if 1) I don't force it but 2) expect it and 3) give my child more responsibility. That's the 1, 2, 3, of potty training in my book LOL But none of this may resonate with you or feel right for your family, in which case please disregard my decisions. Whatever you do needs to feel right to you. I do hope that something I said here will be helpful though.

KMH March 22nd, 2013 07:48 AM

Re: "Age-appropriate"? I need input
Love the thoughts about potty training, Lost!

alittlelost March 22nd, 2013 08:16 AM

Re: "Age-appropriate"? I need input
Thanks :) I'm just regurgitating what we learned through therapy, though. I have to say sometimes I think the therapy we've done has been as much for me as them! I feel lucky to get all this "insider info" from therapists, especially as all I've dealt with are pro AP :)

ashj_1218 March 22nd, 2013 08:32 AM

Re: "Age-appropriate"? I need input
Thanks so much ladies. It helps to have other perspectives on it. It's so hard to see things objectively when it's your kid and you want to make the "right" decision.

I think, in the grand scheme of things, I don't really care about the pacifier. Teeth can be fixed and it's not hindering him in any way otherwise. I think he might be feeling some stress because of the new baby coming. And maybe that is why he is regressing. I'll revisit that when he is 4 and the baby has been here for a few months.

But I think I am gonna use lots of the ideas about potty training. Liam is fairly stubborn and I think it needs to be his decision. So I like the idea of putting the responsibility on HIM and allowing him to come to the responsibility himself. If he is physically ready, I think once he makes the decision, it will be a done deal. But i do feel like we are in the "push-pull" right now and it's not helping matters. I am going to try some of those suggestions and see if we can move forward with at least this one issue.

And thanks for reminding that society sometimes sucks ;) I try very hard not to fall into the trap of thinking in terms of what others think. But sometimes I fall victim to it. I do feel like he is progressing pretty well and normally for his age and abilities, so I think I need to remind myself that he is just fine, even if he is a bit attached to some habits.

alittlelost March 22nd, 2013 08:44 AM

Re: "Age-appropriate"? I need input
ashj, I totally understand. TOTALLY TOTALLY TOTALLY. I have been just in total turmoil lately over the issue with my daughter. She doesn't have a care in the world, just wants to move to level 4 in gymnastics. I cannot get over what her current gym will think if she moves to level 4 and doesn't do well. I won't let it dictate my decision, but it's HARD not to care about other people potentially thinking less of you. But, as you said, society sucks. We just do what is right for our kids. I'm glad we have each other here for support.

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