The Power Struggle

Is it always discipline or does it eventually become a power struggle? Or maybe it’s just a force of habit on my part in how I deal with it that can’t be broken because of my upbringing? Trying to get my daughter to break the bad habit of wetting the bed is proving to be quite a challenge and I often wonder if it’s her trying to establish her ‘authority’ in the home by stubbornly refusing to conform to the rules that I lay down, or is it really something more innocent than that? The inconsistency of her behaviour, and the numerous visits to doctors and child pyschologists have pretty much confirmed that it’s not a medical related cause, nor one due to trauma or stress as a result of losing her mother at such an early age.

So I’ve tried every approach I can think of. She stops the liquids at least an hour before bed time, she goes to toilet twice before bed, I wake her in the early hours of the morning to go again, and yet she still cannot seem to break the habit. I’ve tried talking to her, reasoning it out with her (she’s five by the way), screaming at her, giving her a smack on her butt occasionally, rewarding her for other good behaviours so that punishment or reprimanding her isn’t all she gets from me, and even soliciting the influence of her older sister, her grand mother, and others in the family, yet the filthy habit continues. She now gets to spend an hour or two staring at the corner of the wall in her room each time she wakes up with a wet nappy. Yes, I’ve even gone as far as getting her pull up nappies as part of her training.

According to Louise Hay, author of ‘You Can Heal Your Life’, bed wetting by children is supposed to suggest a fear of a parent, usually the father. And this is where it gets complicated. If I’m to believe this, I would first question if she wet her bed before coming to stay with me four months ago, and the answer is ‘Yes’. So I doubt that’s the reason now. The complicated part is do I soften up, overlook her stubbornness in manner, as well as the bed wetting, and try to foster a greater bond with her, or do I continue to be firm so that she doesn’t get mixed signals about what is or is not acceptable behaviour? This is where my upbringing dictates that I don’t reward bad behaviour at any cost. So what do I do?

I guess the ray of hope in all this is that standing in the corner is the only punishment that seems to have solicited some remorse from her for her actions. Initially even that didn’t phase her at all. She would sit quite nonchalantly as if to say, ‘ok, so what’s next?’. So maybe we’re finally breaking through that defensive exterior where she may believe that she has to protect herself at all costs, and by displaying her resolve not to comply, that makes her feel like she’s important or significant in some way. However, the consistency of attention and affection that she receives now is what must drive that sense of security, so it has to replace her thoughts that standing her ground is all she has going for her.

I’m past the point of screaming and shouting, or coming up with creative ways to encourage her behaviour to be different. The last ditched attempt is now to put up a reward chart which I have tried as well. But my disappointment in seeing the behaviour continue unabated got me to ignore the chart after a few days. So here’s a final attempt with hopefully a little more resolve and some added creativity. If this doesn’t work, I’m out of ideas…

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