Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How can you not pay attention to a naked toddler who hasn't been toilet trained?!?!?

Rebecca is still having trouble adjusting to not being the centre of the universe. I am happy to say that she continues to be affectionate and sweet with Lucy though - no signs of an inclination to take her frustrations out on the baby. I have tried to involve her in Lucy's care - but Rebecca has absolutely no interest in helping. In fact, she seems to have lost her former interest in helping me with cooking, baking, or doing the laundry. She used to love helping with the laundry so much, that I never seemed to have enough loads to wash to keep her satisfied.
It isn't too bad when there is another adult around, but when I have Lucy and Rebecca to myself, Rebecca begins to behave in special ways.
In my defense, I do go out of my way to pay special attention to my Becca, however, there are times when I cannot do as she requests because I am tending to Lucy. It is at these times that she unleashes her best attention-getting techniques.
Lately, this means stripping naked and running through the house screaming at the top of her lungs, and slamming doors. It seems to make her happy, but I can assure you that gathering rabbit turds is not on my top ten list. Actually, picking up Rebecca's poo is better than cleaning up a really ill-placed puddle. Rabbit turds can (technically) wait, depending where they are - a bad puddle needs immediate attention. I have learned that Rebecca's stuffed Winnie the Pooh can endure the washing machine and the dryer to no ill effect.
This behaviour of Rebecca's most often occurs early in the morning when I am feeding Lucy. Rebecca will silently wake up, take off her pjs (no matter how complex they may be in terms of zippers, snaps and ties), remove her diaper and... let nature take its course. Sometimes I get a warning - I will hear a little voice saying "Uh oh - diaper!", as if it has accidentally jettisoned itself from her body. I hear a lot of this "uh oh [insert noun here]" after very deliberate actions. It is annoying. Also, the stripping is annoying because it happens multiple times in a row on the same day. When she seems amenable to being dressed again, I make sure to let her choose her own pants. This is why she is dressed in a long-sleeved shirt, the denim bloomers that go under a denim jumper, yellow rubber boots, and a blue Dora hat.
On a positive note, I have learned that her capacity to hold her pee is longer than it used to be. This is an excellent sign that she is physically ready for toilet training. As for mentally - well, we shall see whether she applies her natural defiance to this endeavour as well.
Why is she doing this? Obviously to get attention. Unfortunately, negative attention. I have to somehow figure out how to not turn this behaviour into an effective tool (i.e. I have to ignore it), while at the same time expressing some disapproval, encouraging potty use, and preserving our furniture and had wood floors. All the while, taking care of Lucy, and maintaining my sanity. The worst is when it's a beautiful sunny day and I want to take the girls outside, but one of them is unwilling to be clothed and prefers to make chalk drawings on her bedroom floor. Then, I feel as though my inability to help her cope with a new sibling usurper is actually causing her to miss out on positive experiences we could have.
My plan is threefold. First, to make greater efforts to give Rebecca special attention, and yet ensure that she understands that she can't always have attention on demand, and that Lucy needs attention too. There are many important lessons to be learned here by all parties. Second, to scale up the toilet training efforts (which until now I had left in the "preliminary" stages). I had planned to wait until the adjustment to Lucy was "finished" (if that ever really happens), and until I had heard Rebecca express herself a bit better with regards to a need to go pee or poo (to date, it doesn't ever seem to bother her when she has a wet or dirty diaper, even if I'm using training diapers that supposedly make wet diapers feel cold and uncomfy). Lastly, to be easier on myself and keep the big picture in mind. This too shall pass, and the truth is - 99% of the time, Rebecca is a happy, loving little girl, who just needs time to make sense of all of this. The same goes for me!

No comments: