3 year old wetting herself purposely and other behaviour problems(20 Posts)
Sorry for the long post in advance! My 3 year old dd has always been a handful since birth. She cried constantly like no other baby and through toddlerhood has just been difficult with tantrums, shouting, screaming and even roaring at us. She can simetimes wake up in the morning in a foul mood refusing to speak or even look at us.
I'm totally at my wits end with having to tread on eggshells around her. The latest thing is to purposefully wet herself. It took months and months to get her potty trained because she's a defiant madam and now were back to the start with her going through 10 pairs of leggings a day. I know it's deliberate as I tried 4 days of completely ignoring it and after an hour or so of leaving her in her wet clothes and pretending not to have noticed she will say 'look at that, it's wee' with a smile on her face.
I feel like she's trying to get attention or control of some sort but I play with her a lot of the day, we go out for walks, read books etc. I just don't know what I'm doing wrong to raise such an unhappy child. She can be really lovely for example when her baby brother is crying she'll give him a cuddle and say 'I'll look after you'.
Can anyone shed any light or give just a bit of advice? I feel totally broken and exhausted trying to figure out why she behaves so badly and wetting herself constantly.
Has the wetting restarted since her brother was born? If so it could be attention seeking, especially if she does it when you are feeding. Does she go to pre school? And if so, does she do the same there? Would she love to go in a nappy again? If not you could say that as she isn't going to the toilet, then she has got to go in a nappy, and if she isn't in a nappy, she can't do big girls stuff, and hopefully the novelty will wear off. Sorry for all the questions, just trying to think of ideas that could help (worked with children for 20yrs). It does sound like a battle of wills, and our own children can have very special powers, that know how to break us.
Thanks for your reply. She was eventually potty trained in Jan this year just before turning 3. The whole potty training process was a nightmare- completely filled with a battle of wills. We put her back in nappies until she started backing down out of the power struggle and she took to it ok then. Our little boy is 7 months now so I can't see that it's related. We started potty training well after he was born. She does exactly the same at nursery, wetting about 4 times a day. My husband and i went away for 1 night 2 weeks ago and this wetting seems to coincide with that. The kids started with my mum and dad who they love but I can't help but feel that this is like some form of guilt tripping!
She is absolutely not bothered one bit about wearing a pull up or nappy. She's also not bothered about wearing wet pants. Her behaviour in general had been shocking of late too. She will argue about everything and the slightest thing she disagrees with will result in her howling like a wolf for ages.
I just don't know how to get past this. I'm fed up of being stuck at home because she wets the car seat, buggy, other people's houses. I've tried to completely ignore the wetting but she will go for hours in wet pants and she's started to get a rash from being wet all the time.
Could she have a bladder infection? Might be worth ruling that out for sure.
My dd took a v long time to train to know when she needed to go. I don't think it's necessarily deliberate. She would go through better or worse phases, but it lasted a long time. I would put her in a pull up for journeys and trips out to save buggy and car seat. Lots of changes at home and possibly less drinks/ stickers for weeing on toilet.
Id separate the 2 things - difficult behaviour and wetting.
It sounds like the wetting is a general problem if she's doing it at nursery. It's obviously not wilful to attract your attention. Put her back in pull ups. Make all of you happier in that respect.
The behaviour could be 3yo behaviour it could be she's more high maintence. Sometimes fightful behaviour is about control. So you can try things like - it's bedtime- do you want pyjamas on first or teeth first. It's really not worth the battle of her doing as she's asked if the choice gets it done.
Same with getting out of the house - shoes or coat on first etc.
A lot of fightful behaviour is also routed in anxiety - which may or may not be related to the wetting. Does she wet because she's anxious iyswim?
If it is genuine a definite defiant wetting, then I would take the approach of making it difficult for her. I was given this advice and it worked in 3 episodes...!
First, whenever she wets, SHE needs to do the work - remove wet pants, place in washer etc. Then wash her bottom half in the shower set on freezing cold. Apologise profusely for the temp, and state that on big girls only cold will do to get all the wee off. Be sympathetic but do not make it anything other than cold.
Then SHE needs to dry herself and find and put on new pants.
It's of vital importance that you remain completely unmoved throughout. Don't get cross or annoyed, even a little. And don't help her.
Once she's back in dry clothes, continue your day as before and don't mention it again.
Telling them off for wetting is seriously counter-productive, but making it into a huge boring faff with a cold shower to boot certainly did the trick for mine. I was certain though that mine was just doing it to be defiant - there were no underlying issues.
i'd try the find things to reward not punish route before the battle escalates.
Maybe she's not getting the attention she needs from you. Just because you are spending time with her, doesn't mean that she's getting what she needs. Maybe she needs more cuddles and less walks. Or more kisses and less book reading. I found that at that age it helped to tell my dd what was going to happen to her before doing it. ie "I am going to take off your clothes and put on your pajamas now" before actually doing it. If she's waking up in the morning in a foul mood, maybe she needs more sleep. Personally I don't believe that a child wetting themselves is ever from "defiant" behavior, but rather from some sort of emotional unbalance and that it's the parent's responsibility to figure out what is actually going on because a 3 year old can't tell you. I think you will have more success if you pay more attention to what you are giving her attention for and try to reset the dynamic so that the attention is given for positive things rather than just telling her off.
I think it may be to do with the younger sibling as at 7 months they start moving and became more of a threat. Have you tried voicing how she may be feeling at a calm time? Eg. 'You've had a few accidents today and I think maybe you feel jealous of the attention the baby is getting/you wish you still had nappies like baby. You know we love you very much and know it's hard being a big sister'. It may be her very crude way of communicating and if you give words to how she feels perhaps it will pass. I would also calmly change her as soon as she has an accidents. Don't make a big deal but don't leave in wet pants either. Hope it improves soon.
I agree there is more than anything an emotional imbalance going on but I don't know what. She's wet herself 8 times so far today. It is totally deliberate. She brags about it afterwards and one of the times this morning she immediately did it after I said she couldn't have chocolate before lunch. We always say what were going to do and talk about things. We use a 5, 2 and 1 minute warning system for when we're going to change activity. E.g. go to the shops, get out of the bath so she can mentally prepare herself for change.
We've done sticker charts in the past and she couldn't give a flying hoot about them! She has extremely good vocab and speech and knows exactly what she's doing.
I'm pretty sure the weeing is in response to something emotional/control issue but I can't figure out what. We talk about being happy and sad and what makes us feel that way so she does have some emotional intelligence and the words to express it.
perhaps she is using peeing as a way to feel she has some power and control. Some cc use poo for this too.
I used to know a two year at Nursery who wet herself because she didn't like the clothes her mum had dressed her in! Some children couldn't care less about reward charts. I am feeling for you and all that washing. It's difficult, because you don't want to make it an issue which grows. Does she poo herself too? My two ds (now 13 and 9) were both later potty trainers, both being over three, and it took ages, and a return to nappies before ds2 could poo in a pot. Could she wear little or no clothes in the house, so she can't get them wet?
I'd like to second the poster who said it could still be related to her little brother in spite of him having been around for a while.
My DD was fine with her brother while he was a baby, but from when he started walking and babbling suddenly started to compete for attention in similar ways to your DD, including wetting.
They're 3.5 and 2 now and DD's behaviour has been getting better recently. I think it's not unrelated to the fact that DS is starting to show typical terrible two behaviour so she's recast herself as the well behaved one .
Anyway I think my point is to be conscious that there may indeed by some sibling rivalry here.
Thanks for the replies. She does dress herself in the morning and choose her clothes. In fact I try to give her as many choices as possible throughout the day so she can have an element of control e.g. weetabix or cornflakes, pink bowl or green bowl etc. She doesn't poo herself at the moment but I wouldn't put it past her to try that too! We totally ran out of clothes today so it was bare on the bottom half for the afternoon.
She was better this afternoon but I think that's because I showered her in kindness and played games with her when she didn't wet herself. I also put her on the naughty step when she deliberately wet herself. I know everyone says not to punish accidents and I agree but these are not 'accidents'.
Really hoping we've made some progress today because I'm totally shattered with this.
I didn't think it was related to her brother but now it's mentioned she does occasionally say I'm a baby and pretend to cry like him. I do try and give her special big girl privileges like going to bed a bit later and giving more time with us by herself.
If it makes you feel better, she really won't remember this time in her life, although you will (tell her when she is moaning about her children). I have two ds aged 13 and 9, and they really don't remember anything from that point in their lives like toilet training, or removal of dummy, even though it was such a trauma at the time. Hope you have a better day tomorrow.
I'm still surprised by the amount of times she's wet. 8 times in a morning seems excessive - does she drink lots or pee a bit, hold it and then pee more when she's changed?
I'm still not convinced it will be totally deliberate. But totally agree with advice above that it's - ok DD, go and change and wash etc so it limits attention.
Is also go for a white lie approach! I'd tell her that sweets and juice and crisps make you wee more so she'll have to stop having those if it's affecting her bladder
That's exactly what she's doing. She drinks a load and then wees enough to soak each time she changes. When she was going properly she only went to the toilet about 5 times a day. Slightly better this morning. I'm hoping she's realising that I'm not going to back down on this! Haha yes the white lie could be an idea!
We are having similar, although not identical problems with our 3yo who also has a baby brother (6 months old). With us it's around withholding poo, which started after potty training (successfully for wees almost straight away). It's been really quite awful (low point was inserting suppositories to get her to poo - distressing for everyone).
Anyway, what might be beginning to is me spending more 1-on-1 time with her - taking her out to the park just the two of us, etc. I realised I really haven't done that since I was heavily pregnant and DH has been her 'go-to' person since then. 'Reconnecting' with her has actually been really lovely and I think we're all more happier for it (She's still no pooing enough though - but that's another thread)
I do think there is an element of attention seeking behaviour but I do spend quite a bit of time with just her. My ds sleeps well during the day and we nearly always play a game together during this time. Also he is incredibly chilled out so even when he is awake (when he's not being fed or changed) we do jigsaws, watch tv together, read books while he goes in his jumperoo or sits on the floor next to us. The poor boy played very happily with the lid of a jigsaw box today while we did our own thing! She even weed on the floor while playing together then. How much more attention can i give her?!
City dweller we had similar issues with poo after initial potty training. We never really found a solution to her withholding or pooing herself. She had a bout of flu type illness lasting 2 weeks and she seemed to forget about withholding and suddenly starting going to the toilet daily with no problems. I was as surprised as anyone!
She's at nursery for the next 2 days so if there's no improvement I'm going to put her in pull ups again. I can't put up with all this washing and cleaning anymore. It's been nearly 3 weeks since it started and I've had enough.
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