A mom is in some serious need of advice! She says that her 7-year-old daughter is still having accidents, and she is at a complete loss trying to figure out a solution. Amber Temerity Lozzi weighs in with some expert advice.
A Mamas Uncut Facebook fan wrote in asking for advice from the community about her 7-year-old daughter, who, she says, “still poops her pants every day.” We asked one of our parenting experts to offer up some advice to help this mom and other moms going through the same thing.
A Mamas Uncut Facebook fan asks:
“My 7-year-old is still having accidents: Advice?
My seven-year-old daughter still has accidents, and I am at a complete loss as to what to do. She has had digestive issues all her life and has seen a pediatric gastroenterologist who helped fix her colon, but she still poops her pants every day, and the doctor said she doesn’t know what more she can do for her. My daughter doesn’t respond to rewards and doesn’t care about you taking anything away from her or putting her in time out as punishment.
Both I and her teachers make her go to the restroom every hour, and we still have daily accidents. She is lactose intolerant, and I follow a very strict diet and only give her water or juice to drink, and I send her lunch to school every day, so I know exactly what she’s eating.
On top of this, her birth mother (she’s adopted) did meth while she was pregnant and as a result, my daughter has an extremely low IQ and is classified as intellectually disabled, so trying to explain anything to her doesn’t do any good because she doesn’t understand. Has anyone ever experienced this issue, and if so, how did you help fix it? I’m completely at my wit’s end, and I just don’t know how to help her.”
Advice from Amber Temerity Lozzi
It sounds as if you’re doing just about everything you can to mitigate her having accidents, and you have some significant variables working against you.
She already has digestive issues as you stated – lactose intolerance is difficult on adults, so it’s going to be extra hard on kids. Keeping her on a diet that prevents lactose would be key, and you’re doing that already.
As for the fact that she’s not responding to punishment: it’s never a good idea to punish accidents. She’s not doing it on purpose (at least it doesn’t sound that way), so all she’s getting from punishment is that you’re mad at her. If she could control it, I imagine she would because nobody wants to sit in their own poop. The fact that she was injured by her birth mother’s drug use would suggest to me that the cause is related to that.
It’s unlikely, if she’s been evaluated by doctors multiple times, that this is a colonic issue. Rather, it’s a developmental delay, and though I do not know the extent to which your daughter is delayed, based on this problem and what you’ve stated (extremely low IQ, intellectually disabled) it sounds like she will need to grow more before this can resolve. If she’s not able to relate her urge to potty with the act of going to the bathroom, even though she’s 7, she’s mentally not much further along than a 3-year-old in that respect and needs more time to catch up, so to speak.
I know this isn’t likely what you want to hear, but the best thing for you is to not put expectations on her that you would a neurotypical 7-year-old. Instead, you need to plan to mitigate these accidents. There are brands of diapers that are for older kids with this or similar issues; if you’re not using them, it would make things much easier.
The key here is taking a different approach: If she’s not ready to learn potty training, no amount of effort on your part will make that change. Her mental development is not in line with her physical development, and though that incongruity is tough, at this point it’s going to be more about expecting her to have an accident and how you can make it less of an issue. Diapers would help that, as much as it might feel like a regression. You’re already doing everything right in terms of how you’re approaching the bathroom – planning her meals at certain times, being more observant of her cues, taking her to the bathroom each hour and trying to relate going potty with physical urges she might be able to recognize.
Don’t try to bring rewards or punishment into this because it’s not a learned behavior in that sense. She needs to learn her the associate between what it feels like to have to go potty with actually going and eventually it will click.
[Images via Shutterstock.]
Amber Temerity Lozzi is the founder of ThriftyGuardian.com. With an educational and professional background in Education and Childhood Psychology, she’s passionate about helping parents master conscious discipline techniques and skills that allow mothers the space to live richer, fuller lives. Prior to launching her own marketing business via AmberLozzi.com, she worked as Membership Coordinator for PBS and in Higher Ed, with a focus on Service-Learning and Organizational Leadership. Be sure to connect with her on Facebook!
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