So who would have believed it, but six days (and two nights) in the bathroom were all my daughter needed to shift. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: those six days (and two nights) were hard to survive. Hard for my daughter because she was in a bathroom, hard for me because I tormented myself the whole time about whether this was really a good idea. I had so many instances of doubting myself and this technique, but something made me see it through to the end.
She was able to choose to come out any time she wanted to be respectful, responsible, and fun to be with- it just took her a few days to decide to do that. She wailed, “Mom, I’m not as comfortable in here as I am in my room!” And I said, “Great, that’s the idea!” She yelled, “It’s boring in here!!” And I said, “Even better!! Come out whenever you’re ready to be respectful, responsible, and fun to be with.”
Every few hours I would give her the chance to do a chore fast, snappy, and right the first time in order to have a reward, like a yummy meal, t.v. time, time to play outside, playing a game with Mom or Dad, etc. The first couple of times, she made obvious “mistakes” in the chores so that I couldn’t possibly conclude she had done it well. I don’t know if she was testing me or if she really just wasn’t ready, but each time she found herself back in the bathroom for another few hours until she got her next chance to do the chore. By the third time, those chores were done fast, snappy, and right the first time. She was finally acting like someone who didn’t want to spend her summer in the bathroom.
We built from there. Each chore earned a reward, each reward gave her a sense of satisfaction and more motivation to earn more rewards. She had such a good session with the therapist on Wednesday. The therapist even indicated that we should expect Kaylyn to revert to her default position of stealing because she wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure of doing so well. I’ve been checking her room and pockets and, so far as I can tell, she hasn’t stolen anything. Meanwhile she is definitely respectful, responsible, and fun to be with. Every day she has more and more privileges and is handling them all well. There was one return to the bathroom for a couple of hours when she deliberately disobeyed me, but a one-page essay later, she’s been fine since then.
She finally let go and gave up control and the sweet girl underneath has emerged. I asked her yesterday morning how she felt now that she was out and about, enjoying privileges, and having fun with us. She had such a big smile on her face when she said, “I feel so different, it feels great! I think the bathroom program really works!”
I sure hope so because my nine-year-old son is now on Operation Bathroom. It turns out I’ve been so distracted with the older two- and the little one is so cute- that he’s gotten away with too much for too long.The therapist kindly brought this to my attention last week and no, I hadn’t even realized that he was getting away with so much and terrorizing us when he didn’t get his way. Well that very day his charmed little life came to an end. We started him in his room, per “the program”, but when he broke his screen off and threw it out the window, then started throwing everything he could out the window, we cut to the bathroom. The absolute worst week of my life ensued but like a dog with a bone, I stuck to “the program” and as of today, he is so much calmer and seems so much happier, even though he’s missed out on quite a bit of fun because of his tantrums and lying. But he seems relieved that he is no longer in control (duh!).
For the first time in more than eight years, I can see our family really happening. I have all my fingers and toes crossed, but I am really excited.
Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/14954