Never Mock A Reward Chart

In my efforts to be the best mom I could be, I lost sight of the simple truths of parenting. Kids don’t care about sophisticated approaches, or logical explanations, nor do they give a damn about listening to long drawn out explanations about why they’re not getting what they want because of something they did a week ago. For them it’s simple…instant gratification.

After struggling for some time now, with much therapy sessions and co-opting critically influential family figures in my efforts to get my daughter to break the nasty habit of bed wetting, I finally decided to try out the one simple option that I had been skeptical about for months. A reward chart. On the one hand, I initially dismissed the idea because I thought it lacked any bite given that she didn’t seem to care what my perception was of her. However, I think that the process we followed with her had merit at every step of the way, even if it did not directly impact the final outcome.

The trauma therapy was needed to establish a baseline of her state of mind after losing her mother. It created a safe environment for her to feel comfortable to break the ice and start expressing the thoughts and emotions that were haunting/taunting her little soul. And it provided me with important insight into her world so that I didn’t go off assuming that her non-compliance was simply stubbornness or disrespect for authority. I chose to stop the therapy when the therapist confirmed that there were no remaining issues related to emotional trauma, but rather behavioural issues that she needed to outgrow.

That’s when the hard work started. Not only was it difficult to look beyond my own ego when dealing with her, but it was almost impossible to restrain the disciplinarian in me when it needed to be restrained the most. To eliminate the possibilities of what may have been causing the bed wetting, we had her examined by a GP as well, who found that she did indeed have an infection which could exacerbate any bladder control problems. So all of these interventions contributed to the overall roadmap towards weaning her off this distasteful habit.

At the start of writing this post, she had completed three full days without incident. However, I just heard that she once again had an ‘accident’ while playing. Her simple explanation is that she didn’t want to go to the toilet when the need arose, and I’m not sure if this is a good sign that she’s at least not lying about her reasons, or is it the start of another bout of stubbornness. What goes on in her head is still such a mystery in so many ways, and where I find myself easily interpreting the behaviour and underlying motivation for actions in kids and adults alike, I’m struggling with her. Are the remnants of anger that I still feel towards her mother preventing me from seeing her as an individual? Or am I still looking at her through muddied spectacles pre-empting every negative action or behavioural pattern as being a sign of her potential to grow up like the troubled character that her mother was? Either way, I need to get beyond this.

I cannot afford to give her mother any further power over me from beyond the grave, nor can I afford to lose patience or give up in trying to establish a meaningful level of interaction between my daughter and I. But all this is definitely easier said than done. Is it my fear of failure that’s preventing me from accepting accountability in resolving this mess, or is it frustration at never having been able to get through to her mother that’s preventing me from wanting to extend myself that far with my daughter?

I know it’s not fair on her, and I know it’s not right to expect a 5 year old to be fully accountable for all their actions since they’re still developing their abilities of reason, logic and the understanding of choices and the related cause and effect. But the stubborn adult in me believes that if I explained it gently and simply to her at least 10 times already, I have a reasonable expectation of her to understand and comply! Am I being stubborn or unreasonable, or am I correct in persisting in this way so that she realises that she needs to take this more seriously? Of course, that assumes that she realises what the fuss is all about anyway.

I guess this excerpt from sums it up quite well:

There are some experts who have pointed out that bed wetting could be a “vicious” cycle. If stress causes the child to wet the sheets, this could also cause serious stress to the parents. Stressed out parents could distress children more and even make the situation worse. There are studies showing that punishing and shaming children because of bed wetting could actually, increase nighttime accidents. This would eventually lead to more punishment and shaming. This could cause serious problems with the child’s confidence and self-esteem.

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