I am the adoptive mother of three children who were abused physically and sexually in foster care. We have been able to manage most of the behavioral challenges by disciplining "out of the box'. I am looking for input from anybody out there who has experiences dealing with a child urinating and deficating in the bedroom. The children are 9, 7, and 4; and have even gone to the bathroom into the heating vent. Their bedroom is 3 feet away from the bathroom. I know that there was some abuse which occurred in the bedroom and bathroom, but we are struggling to get past this. I am having to replace the hardwood floor in one bedroom because it has warped.
Can anybody share any ideas?
Thanks so much.
Thank you so much for responding. What you said was so true.. We have had our bouts with food as well (a few months ago). We are hanging in there. It just gets frustrating. What you said about financial accountability is a new idea for me.. Perhaps doing chores around the house to earn the money for payback.. Thanks so much.
My daughter has occassional accidents. It is her responisibility to clean up after herself. The younger children may need supervision, or some assistance.
This goes for spilling, or smearing dirt on furniture as well. It is oddly one of the few times she will not try to evade or argue her way out of a chore. I geuss because she knows she is the cause. I praise her for doing a good job of cleaning up.
I am not sure if my daughter's accidents are really accidents either.. and her problem is not as severe. THey occur during stressful times of the year, or when she seems to need more attention.
A tip to share from Nancy Thomas - white vinegar and water cuts the smell of urine. My son was a first class pee-er. Mostly in his bed, until we started attachment therapy, then he was really @#$$ed off and would pee all the time. The urine of an older child is very strong and until I found this tip, I was washing everything twice to get the smell out.
Natural consequences implemented in a helpful/tour guide Barbie kind of way is the best approach. I would put a bucket in the bathtub with vinegar and cool water, my son had to rinse out what ever he peed on. Also, he got 1 set of clothes for the day, early in his attachment therapy. If he chose to pee them, then he was choosing to wear pj's for the rest of the day. And of course if one is in pj's, then one does not play outside.
Like one poster said, you cannot control what goes in and out of their bodies. Put the units of concern on their shoulders and off yours.
Here is another group of people who will have experience with the behaviors you describe and many others. [url][/url]
They have some good ideas on how to use Love and Logic, Nancy Thomas, and Debra Hage ideas to preserve you sanity alongwith a sense of humor and healing compassion.
My son urinated in the heater vent once. It took a while to figure out where the "funky" smell was coming from. Once we did, he did an excellent job of cleaning the entire vent with pine sol. One time my daughter asked to sit in my lap very sweetly (right after I had taken her to use the toilet). She urinated all over me. Opps!! Sorry Mom. ;)
You guys are total professionals!
Slikmom, is there any chance your family can separate the children's living rooms, perhaps the oldest closest to you - and farther from the bathroom? I have to wonder about older sib modeling, and that sibs fear with the proximity to the bathroom. Can you maybe upgrade the bathroom decor so its more than a bathroom - maybe add a small library of fun reading material, a radio, a TV, a TV with a video game player maybe - anything to dilute its primary bodily function and focus, and fears. Others might have better 'out of the box' ideas, ala Nancy Thomas et al.
Also, this may seem initially silly, but how about a hospital bedpan for those most in need? If the truth be told, when I was an 11 yr old in hospital for two weeks in some pain, I found that bedpan's availablitly to be quite a security blanket, even though I was never abused. It just felt safer than making the trip down the hall. Call me wierd.
You have some interesting ideas about decorating the bathroom.. but my heart tells me it isn't really about the bathroom... but there has also been nonsense in the bathroom as well. Many items which should not have been flushable - have somehow found their way into the toilet... but that is another story. lol
I know that some of the abuse took place in the bathroom, but I think the nail on the head is the Control issue. We went through games with food as well... Until we (the parents) decided that we were not going to battle over food... The funny thing is that the toileting challenges have increased as the food challenges subsided.
My children have such tremendous emotional damage to repair. It was not until they were placed in our home that they began showering without a naked adult in the shower with them. We are still teaching them how to wash and wipe themselves.
I think the bottom line is the control. They are dealing with some issues with respect to some of the abuse that they experienced..They have to be so frightened by learning new things in our home..
Right now I don't have an answer for myself -- we just have to endure these trenches(as I call the first couple of years after placement) until the children work out what they need to.. and until they learn that no matter how bad they act, that we still call them good kids, and that we still love them - no matter what.
Thank you for your ideas.. I will definately talk to my husband to see what we can do.
It is not, however possible for us to rearrange the bedroom situation. We only have one bathroom and it's located between the bedrooms..
Thanks again,
the three things a parent CAN"T and SHOULDN"T control.
That said, we too had children who used bathroom functions as a way to control (due to previous abuse and control issues) and they are now fully healed. It took time, I am not sure there is any "magic cure" (and believe me, I have had many days I wished there were!!)
As time has progressed with ours, bathroom issues have decreased also.
All the above tips, (especially white vinegar and water!) are really great. That and time, time, time and more time.
Rapahel did this. He did it on purpose and made the other kids watch and he did it on the walls, in the closets, in the dryer (ugh) and everywhere. I thought it was a new dog we had gotten and got rid of the dog. Since the kids were scared of him, they were afraid to say he did it. My kids also claim he ate it, but that's so farfetched I don't want to believe it. I was told this behavior is rage and often seen in kids who have been sexually abused. Although Raphael has no memory of having been sexual abused, it is everyone's feeling that he had been....and had blocked it out. It took us months to get rid of the odor and I agree with Lucy Joy that it is deliberate and done out of fury. I have no idea how to stop it, but, if I had known he was doing it, I would have given him a wash rag for sure!
It has been our experience (3 older child adoptions) that bathroom issues and abused kids tend to go hand in hand. It's about anger and control. I believe it was Deborah Hage who pointed out that you can probably make the undesirable behaviors go away, but without healing the underlying issues, the behaviors will just mutate. Our 14yo daughter came to us at age 6, with eneuresis and encopresis. The bedwetting was no biggie, but the pooping in cups and closets was a shocker! We tried being understanding and patient. It just got worse. Finally we decided to hold her accountable. We put her in the bathtub with her fresh "deposit" and a pair of rubber gloves, paper towels and Lysol. She wailed and protested but she cleaned it up. It was the last time she ever did it. Of course, the anger and control issues continued ! However, at the time, this behavior was so unpleasant (We did develop a warped sense of humor over it) that I don't know that I would do it differently today. I do think it is important to understand what underlies the behavior. On the other end of the spectrum, our now 16 yo daughter came home at age 11 as a bedwetter. We did the plastic sheet routine, held her responsible for stripping the beds, etc. It continued for a couple of years. I finally resorted to Goodnights. She loved them! It didn't bother her in the least to be wearing them at her age. (Both my girls are mild MR) One day, she let it slip that she preferred to wear them; it was easier than getting up at night and going downstairs to the bathroom! We went cold turkey after that, following the advice of Dr. John Rosemond. She had a few accidents after that, but within a very short period of time, she was staying dry all night, every night. I guess the point of my rambling is that you have to tailor your approach, depending on the problem. And , of course, as Louise has pointed out, lots of time.
Could you explain the techniques of Dr. John Rosemond that you used with your daughter. We did the cold turkey thing with my son too, after realizing that using Goodnights just permitted him to not try to solve his problem. I did get the book "Dry All Night", but he was not motivated to use it.
My son wet almost every night, until we started him on medication for this. He now takes 4 mg of DDAVP and have been dry 98% of the time. I don't like using medication, but it really became a quality of life issue for him.
At 10, and having resolved his rad, he is ready to be spending the night at other places. Lets face it, despite what the commercials say, Goodnights are not discrete and I would never send a 10 year old to a friends house wearing them.
For those using Goodnights, Medicaid will pay for these. You just need to have a diagnosis. My son's mental health diagnosis qualified.
For anyone not familiar with Dr. Rosemond, he is a child psychologist who is VERY traditional and old-fashioned. i.e., he believes in holding children completely accountable for their choices and actions. He is similar in some ways to Foster Cline. He thinks that we wait way too late to toilet train children and that we make it too pleasant and easy for them to stay in diapers. I figured that my daughter, even though MR, was certainly at least at a three y-o level! Your son's developmental age may play into this issue. Dr. Rosemond's opinion is that Pull-ups and Goodnights hamper a child's ability to actually, literally feel the urine on their skin because it is absorbed so instantly. One key to a child's learning to stay dry is they have to be aware of the fact that they have wet themselves. With Goodnights, they never know! This is all assuming that they actually care. Some kids don't, and that's a whole 'nother issue. In conjunction with the absence of Goodnights (also no underwear of any kind...they have to be bare skinned to feel the urine) Dr. Rosemond advocates the child's being totally responsible for the wet clothes, sheets, etc. Of course, all this presupposes that the child is biologically ready to stay dry all night. With some developmentally delayed children and others who may not produce enough adrenal hormone at night, it is truly not possible. (I think I got that right about the adrenal hormone. It's what allows any of us to produce smaller amounts of concentrated urine during sleep so that we aren't getting up all night to use the bathroom.) Some kids are tremendously heavy sleepers, and may also take meds that exacerbate that tendency. A lot of the anti-psychotic meds increase sleepiness. And also, Dr. Rosemond is primarily dealing with a "normal" population of kids, not those who have a history of sexual abuse , which as we know, can contribute to bedwetting. Also, boys tend to have bedwetting issues longer than girls, especially if their bio dads had the same problem. With our kids, there's a lot more going on, so you'll have to factor everything in. I may have just gotten lucky. On the other hand, my other daughter was also a bedwetter for years, and she quit at about the same time. We went cold turkey with her, and I just told her very matter of factly that she was old enough to stay dry. With her, a lot had to do with my expectations. Every child is different...Good luck. (P.S. Sure wish I had known that Medicaid would have paid for the Goodnights. We spent a fortune on them!)
Thanks GeorgiaMom, Sounds similiar to what we did. for over 1 year had my son rinse out his wet sheets in a bucket of vinegar and water. Also his blankets and sometimes comforter too - a then 8 yo holds a lot of urine. He then had to shower every AM to get the pee smell off his skin. He also had to remake his bed (a full size, so more difficult).
Despite the natural consequences, he made very little improvement in eneuresis. I suspect that it's either genetic or linked with his history in the orphanage. Not sure I want to know what they did to teach kids to stay in bed at night, no matter what. My son is now 10, has been home for over 6 years, and still does not get out of bed at night!!
The urologist we used has since moved, no other good options right now. So guess we will just wing it for a while. I would like to wean him off the meds, but from what I have heard, kids generally go right back to bedwetting.
I do appreciate the bedwetting information, but as accurately explained by a few of you -- I too tend to believe that abuse and intentional bathroom probs go hand in hand. A part of what you said did strick a chord with me.,. because I believe my older children are afraid of the four yr old. They would not tell me when he was doing something he shouldnt have been doing... Until I started holding them accountable.. as 'aiding and abetting' , if you will. This broke them from listening to everything he said.. he's 4 for crying out loud. They are 7 and 9!
Accountability has become important in our efforts to manage this situation. They are the ones who have to clean the closet and floor, and the dresser drawers too. To actually open the dresser drawer and take a pee in there.. I just couldnt believe it.. but anyway.. we are trying more accountability as many of you have suggested, and it seems to be helping with the older two children.
The youngest child has the most severe behavioral difficulties, and so I dont expect that accountability will work for him.. I am hoping that if I can get the older two on board, that at least they will tell me when their brother is doing something.. that way I can intervein at the appropriate time.. Instead of trying to decipher the situation after I find the poop or smell the urine. He needs redirection right away because of his mental capacity.
I thank you so much for your candid and marvelous replies to my post.