How to put an end to two years of accidents

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  February 11, 2011 06:00 AM

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[This letter has been edited and condensed.]

My daughter is turning 5 next week. She has a sister 13 months older and a brother who just turned 2. I thought she was "potty trained." After my son was born, she would go to the bathroom and have no accidents. She was almost 3 at that time and seemed fine for 2 months or so. Then one day she peed her pants six times, and ever since, she has peed them EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I have not reverted back to diapers. I have set the potty timer, I have rewarded and had potty charts... but lately I have just become very frustrated and angry. I have taken away everything I can think of, telling her she can have her toys/dolls back when she keeps her pants dry for a day. She crosses her arms and says, "Anyways, I don't like playing." She is stubborn. I have taken her to the doctor .... three times! They have tested her urine and examined her physically. Nothing is wrong there. She has few accidents outside of the home; mostly they happen only at home.

I feel horrible, because I will get so upset. I say things to her that I later regret... pointing out her age and how there is no reason to be peeing her pants, letting her know she stinks like pee. I compare her to other children. I always apologize when I lose my temper, telling her I love her no matter what, even when she pees her pants. I try to explain to her how it really upsets me because it seems like nothing I do will help correct this situation.

Today I am upset with her because ...she lied about peeing in her pants. She lied several times and even asked me if I was proud of her for keeping them dry. I found her wet underpants behind the toilet. I understand why she would lie, to avoid my being upset. I don't like that she carried the lie on for so long and lied several times about it. She is now sitting in her room.

I just really don't know what to do anymore. This has been happening for two years now. She still wears a diaper at night because if she doesn't, the bed is wet. Surely she won't still be peeing her pants at the age of 8. Maybe I just need to ignore it... which I have tried as well. And, it didn't fix anything, but it did help me feel a lot less frustrated.

From: Steph, Warrensburg, MO

Dear Steph,

Wow, two years is a long time to let a problem like this fester. In fact, in the course of these two years, I would say that you have unwittingly created a secondary problem: an interpersonal dynamic with this child that, in her mind, depends on negative behavior.

Here are what I take as givens in your story: That's what kids do. Surely when she started having the accidents, it was a form of regression, coming only two months after her brother was born. But it got her attention and, with a new baby in the house, that's what she wanted. That it is negative attention is not a problem to her. As time passed, with three kids close in age, there's plenty of vying for attention; that's just the nature of the beast. For her, the attention that came from having accidents became part of a routine: she'd have an accident, and she knew what to expect from you. Believe it or not, that made her feel safe and secure. It's comfortable, even.

That you have gotten more angry and frustrated over time -- especially so much time -- isn't so good; at this point, even she probably has a sixth sense about that. But she's only 5: she doesn't know how to break the cycle. It's up to you to do that.

My suggestion is for you to do two, possibly three, things:

Step one: Build in time on a daily basis to give each child five minutes of undivided attention. (You can't just do this with her; then you'll have problems with the other two.) Label this as "Mom & Sara's time," etc. Make it clear that no one can interrupt. Let the child choose what you do during this time: cuddle? read a story? walk around the block? If you can't squeeze fifteen minutes out of each day, then make a schedule where each day is a different child's turn. The point is for her, especially, to see that she has your undivided attention. That she can have access to you for no reason other than being your daughter.

Step two: Ask her how she feels about having accidents. Your email is filled with how you feel, but -- trust me -- at 5, she can't be really happy about this, either. She knows that her peers are not still having all these accidents. Ask her how you can help her to stop having the accidents. Taking away toys or other so-called punishments? Just stop doing that and tell her you're going to stop doing that. She needs to feel supported. See what ideas she has. Would she like to wear pull ups during the day? Would she like to pick out all new big-girl underwear and just decide to have no more accidents? At 5, she may well be able to do just that, with support and incentive. When she has an accident, remain neutral; don't show your anger. Make sure she knows how to clean herself, where to put the wet panties, and how to put on fresh ones. Don't even be involved. If she lies and you smell pee, tell her, "I smell something which makes me think you aren't being truthful. Please go in the bathroom and check, and then take care of yourself. When you're fresh and clean , we can be together."

The less you feed into the dynamic, the more you will be able to change it.

The third step? If this doesn't feel doable for any reason, please seek professional help. Your daughter is suffering, and you are, too.

I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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14 comments so far...
  1. Hi readers - Barbara has answered several potty training questions in the last year. That advice, both from Barbara and from you in the comments section, may help this letter-writer, so I'm linking them here. Such a popular topic...

    June 15, 2010: Accidents that aren't really accidents

    June 22, 2010: 7-year-old's bed-wetting is getting tiresome

    Oct. 15, 2010: Coining the term, 'potty forgetfulness'

    Nov. 26, 2010: Why does this 10-year-old still have accidents?

    Jan. 25, 2011: A 4-year-old who still has accidents

    Posted by Angela Nelson, Boston.com Staff February 11, 11 07:07 AM
  1. I'd suggest an evaluation with a therapist who specializes in enuresis. The behavior has become ingrained, and it has significantly affected your relationship with your daughter, you may need a 'third party' who can help you work through both of these.
    And as an aside, enuresis is mostly a control issue, but it also *can* be a symptom of sexual abuse.

    Posted by Quinn February 11, 11 09:20 AM
  1. Oh, I know where you're coming from, Steph, as my child occasionally has accidents, and it is really hard not to lose your cool.

    My advice is probably counter to the experts' advice, but I think, since you are going through this power struggle every single day, it might be worth trying. My thought is to put her in pull-ups when she's at home -- for a while, anyway. It seems to me that you and she can use a break from the drama for a day or a week or a month. For me, the part that really causes me to be less calm is the mess, so my thought is to use pull-ups to remove that element and let you and your daughter take a break from that pressure. It would give you a little time to establish a new pattern of being with each other.

    Then after that calm break (perhaps a week?), you and she could talk about her wearing underpants again. Perhaps buy a whole new set and throw out the old. Talk about how you will both handle accidents -- what her responsibility would be (cleaning up after herself) and what yours would be (remaining calm & letting her do her clean up herself).

    One way or the other, you have to change the dynamic that you have going, because it really does seem to be self-perpetuating. You need to make the change (to no accidents) be something that she wants as much as you do.

    Best of luck to you -- I so hope you work it out!

    Posted by SandyEE February 11, 11 09:58 AM
  1. To get my daughter to do anything, I have to give her lots of encouragement, telling her she can do it, she's a big kid, etc, etc. To get my son to do something, I just tell him not to do it.
    Sounds like your daughter can control herself because the accidents happen at home when she has your attention. I suggest when she pees her pants, that you have her change herself and put the soiled clothes in the washing machine. You don't need to know about it. she can do it herself. do not say anything whether she is dry or if she is wets. Give her attention other ways - reading a book together, going for a walk, etc.

    Posted by Happymonkeylou February 11, 11 10:06 AM
  1. I'd just like to step in with some compassion for Steph, here. Being the mom of young children is such a stressful, all-consuming job. None of us are perfect, and nobody can keep their cool all the time. We all have "trigger" issues that just send us through the roof. It sounds like you know that getting angry and frustrated is a problem, since you apologize to your daughter about it, and because you wrote this letter. In the letter I hear you identifying two main issues: 1) accidents; 2) your anger. Barbara gave some good advice for dealing with the accidents, but not much help or sympathy about the anger.

    I'm the mom of 2 under 3, and I've been trying to work on my own anger for a couple of months now, and found a book (or maybe more like a pamphlet) to be really helpful: The Surprising Purpose of Anger, by Marshall B. Rosenberg. It's not specific to parenting, and I don't know if it'd be for everybody, but it's helped me.

    Good luck and best wishes... you're doing a very, very hard job, and you should feel proud of yourself for your self-awareness in reaching out for help.

    Posted by carriefran February 11, 11 11:08 AM
  1. Anger or frustration can be completely legitimate. Anyone who tells you they would not be peeved by this situation is delusional. It's the expression of it that may need to change. If you are yelling and screaming or insulting, that's bad. But there is nothing inherently wrong with telling a five year old in a straightforward and factual manner that they should not pee their pants every day and it is not good hygiene or manners to go around smelling like pee. Those things are true. If she was picking her nose or refusing to buckle the seatbelt you'd say something, wouldn't you?

    Posted by di February 11, 11 12:50 PM
  1. The mom is hateful, taking out her frustrations on a tiny little girl. It's STEPH who needs therapy - anger-management; feeling she has to compete with her child for control.

    She's humiliating and punishing her TINY LITTLE GIRL for the girl's natural reaction to stress. And three children in a row? How about more time in-between until the next one, so that you can cherish each with the time and love they need.

    Treat your 5-year-old with love, not with degradation.

    And no, carriefran, Steph is not "understandable." Steph is the GROWN-UP, and because of that she should show compassion to her DAUGHTER. And why, carriefran, do *you* have anger?

    If people can't control their anger, they shouldn't have children.

    Posted by reindeergirl February 11, 11 01:07 PM
  1. "And three children in a row? How about more time in-between until the next one, so that you can cherish each with the time and love they need."

    RDG, this comment of yours bothered me. There was a year between the first two, and then 3 years more before the last baby. It's ridiculous to think that parenting 3 kids under 7 years old isn't possible. Many of us don't wait years and years between having children. And it doesn't mean we don't have time to give each child the love she needs. There is nothing to suggest she doesn't have the time to cherish each child; she simply isn't handling this issue well. But to turn this into a judgment against having children within a few years of each other is unfounded. And obnoxious. You have no place to be judging people's reproductive choices.

    And for the record, the LW says "lately" she has become angry. She does NOT say she has been yelling for the past 2 years -- in fact, she says she started with rewards -- positive reinforcement.

    Posted by jjlen February 11, 11 01:44 PM
  1. It's too bad that it's so difficult to have a compassionate and civil conversation about parenting and how hard it can be. If everybody were a perfect parent or a perfect person, advice columns wouldn't be necessary.

    Reindeergirl, I'm sorry you feel so strongly about my response (and others... you attributed "understandable" to me, a word I didn't write), which was an attempt to be constructive and helpful. I'm not sure that responses like yours are a good way to demonstrate how to manage anger.

    Posted by carriefran February 11, 11 02:59 PM
  1. We don't know what exactly the writer has done that makes her feel so guilty about getting "angry" because she does not say what "so upset" looks like. A tone of frustration or a screaming fit? For all we know, if Mom so much as raises an eyebrow the kid goes ballistic and Mom spends an hour grovelling on her knees and promising ice cream sundaes.

    There was a letter just like this a while back, a dad was miffed that the son set off the fire alarm with the shower for the nth time, and the kid went into hysterics because Dad was mad and Mom was in a tizzy over Dad's "anger issues." Nobody said whether Dad hollered once over the sound of the shower and alarm, "Knock it off!" or whether he reamed the kid for half an hour. Same story here.

    How on earth are children supposed to learn how to deal with anger and frustration if parents walk on eggshells trying never to express them, as opposed to expressing them in a constructive and dignified manner?

    But hey, saying that means I am a control freak with major anger issues who should never have had children, I suppose.

    Posted by di February 11, 11 03:40 PM
  1. I love reindeergirl, really I do, but her post here tells me that she either does not have children, or if she does,she has never had one that at a very advanced age (5 is old for frequent accidents) pees in her pants Every Single Day --- For Two Years.

    It is sweet but ingenuous to think that parents never ever get angry. Maybe a robot parent, but a human one, um, no. Every parent, like every human being, gets angry on occasion. The LW doesn't say here how she expresses that anger, but my impression is with scolding, which may not be -- or in this case obviously is not -- effective, but which I very much doubt is causing her daughter lasting harm. It's not working, of course, which is why Steph wrote in.

    Steph has tried a lot of different ways to solve this issue with her daughter, without success. After two years, that she's frustrated is beyond understandable. I've had potty issues with my child, and I thought our issues were tough enough to deal with, but if I was going through what Steph and her daughter have been for TWO YEARS, I'd be at the end of my rope too. It's like suffering from a massive headache -- the first couple of days are managable, but once it becomes chronic and non-stop, it's the sheer unendingness of it that wears you down.

    I also think that you have to have had a very strong-willed child to understand where Steph is coming from. My oldest has always been very easy-going, but my youngest (who I love JUST AS MUCH) is very head-strong and the ensuing power struggles have required a whole different parenting toolbox. This youngest one is, probably not so coincidentally, the one with the potty issues.

    So, I guess I'm saying walk a mile in Steph's shoes before judging harshly folks. I very much doubt any of us could do much better.

    Posted by SandyEE February 11, 11 06:10 PM
  1. Good post SandyEE and jlen. I understand the LW's anger. My child is strongwilled and we had/still have some issues with our 4 year old and potty training...It is so frustrating. It can wear you down. It can make you very upset. I sometimes felt the need to walk away from my child. I would never hurt him but I had to calm down before talking to him so I could talk rationally and calmly. RDG: have you ever had a child stand in front of the toilet holding himself in pain because he has to pee so badly but refuses to sit or stand to pee, when the potty is right next to him????? Then you can't take him crying about it that you pick him up and put him on the potty yourself and while he pees, he is also taking a meltdown? my child recently got diagnoses with a very mild PDD. which explains his meltdown such as that. I would guess the LW's child doesn't have such an issue but what she is explaining really isn't out of norm. This happens ALOT. The mother really just needs to handle her frustrations better so she can help her child properly. I think many moms/dads can relate to her. Please don't act like you have never been frustrated or even angry at your child and maybe even had a "bad mommy moment" because I would be willing to bet that anyone judging this LW has.

    Posted by jd February 12, 11 09:09 AM
  1. Wow, reindeergirl, way too harsh. I hope someday, when you are in need of compassion, someone gives it to you, even though you certainly have shown NO compassion for this frustrated parent, who wrote in for our help. Shame on you for being so judgmental and high-and-mighty.

    Walk a mile in her shoes, let he who has not sinned cast the first stone, and other cliches I can't think of.

    Posted by Mia February 12, 11 01:18 PM
  1. My minister once told me a story that really hit home. Another mom in the congregation told her that she always felt very confident that she was a great mother -- until she had her second child and realized that it wasn't that she was a great mom, but that her first child had been so easy to parent.

    I also had thought I was pretty good, and I'm sure back then if I had read Steph's story, I would have thought, "well, of course all she has to do is XYZ -- and do it with a calm voice and a smile on her face." And then I had my second "spirited" child, and I truly realized just how much I had to learn about being a parent (and still have to learn). Raising spirited children has its joys, for sure, but it is also tremendously challenging, and few of us -- maybe none of us -- meet those challenges perfectly every single time they arise.

    Posted by SandyEE February 12, 11 03:52 PM
 
14 comments so far...
  1. Hi readers - Barbara has answered several potty training questions in the last year. That advice, both from Barbara and from you in the comments section, may help this letter-writer, so I'm linking them here. Such a popular topic...

    June 15, 2010: Accidents that aren't really accidents

    June 22, 2010: 7-year-old's bed-wetting is getting tiresome

    Oct. 15, 2010: Coining the term, 'potty forgetfulness'

    Nov. 26, 2010: Why does this 10-year-old still have accidents?

    Jan. 25, 2011: A 4-year-old who still has accidents

    Posted by Angela Nelson, Boston.com Staff February 11, 11 07:07 AM
  1. I'd suggest an evaluation with a therapist who specializes in enuresis. The behavior has become ingrained, and it has significantly affected your relationship with your daughter, you may need a 'third party' who can help you work through both of these.
    And as an aside, enuresis is mostly a control issue, but it also *can* be a symptom of sexual abuse.

    Posted by Quinn February 11, 11 09:20 AM
  1. Oh, I know where you're coming from, Steph, as my child occasionally has accidents, and it is really hard not to lose your cool.

    My advice is probably counter to the experts' advice, but I think, since you are going through this power struggle every single day, it might be worth trying. My thought is to put her in pull-ups when she's at home -- for a while, anyway. It seems to me that you and she can use a break from the drama for a day or a week or a month. For me, the part that really causes me to be less calm is the mess, so my thought is to use pull-ups to remove that element and let you and your daughter take a break from that pressure. It would give you a little time to establish a new pattern of being with each other.

    Then after that calm break (perhaps a week?), you and she could talk about her wearing underpants again. Perhaps buy a whole new set and throw out the old. Talk about how you will both handle accidents -- what her responsibility would be (cleaning up after herself) and what yours would be (remaining calm & letting her do her clean up herself).

    One way or the other, you have to change the dynamic that you have going, because it really does seem to be self-perpetuating. You need to make the change (to no accidents) be something that she wants as much as you do.

    Best of luck to you -- I so hope you work it out!

    Posted by SandyEE February 11, 11 09:58 AM
  1. To get my daughter to do anything, I have to give her lots of encouragement, telling her she can do it, she's a big kid, etc, etc. To get my son to do something, I just tell him not to do it.
    Sounds like your daughter can control herself because the accidents happen at home when she has your attention. I suggest when she pees her pants, that you have her change herself and put the soiled clothes in the washing machine. You don't need to know about it. she can do it herself. do not say anything whether she is dry or if she is wets. Give her attention other ways - reading a book together, going for a walk, etc.

    Posted by Happymonkeylou February 11, 11 10:06 AM
  1. I'd just like to step in with some compassion for Steph, here. Being the mom of young children is such a stressful, all-consuming job. None of us are perfect, and nobody can keep their cool all the time. We all have "trigger" issues that just send us through the roof. It sounds like you know that getting angry and frustrated is a problem, since you apologize to your daughter about it, and because you wrote this letter. In the letter I hear you identifying two main issues: 1) accidents; 2) your anger. Barbara gave some good advice for dealing with the accidents, but not much help or sympathy about the anger.

    I'm the mom of 2 under 3, and I've been trying to work on my own anger for a couple of months now, and found a book (or maybe more like a pamphlet) to be really helpful: The Surprising Purpose of Anger, by Marshall B. Rosenberg. It's not specific to parenting, and I don't know if it'd be for everybody, but it's helped me.

    Good luck and best wishes... you're doing a very, very hard job, and you should feel proud of yourself for your self-awareness in reaching out for help.

    Posted by carriefran February 11, 11 11:08 AM
  1. Anger or frustration can be completely legitimate. Anyone who tells you they would not be peeved by this situation is delusional. It's the expression of it that may need to change. If you are yelling and screaming or insulting, that's bad. But there is nothing inherently wrong with telling a five year old in a straightforward and factual manner that they should not pee their pants every day and it is not good hygiene or manners to go around smelling like pee. Those things are true. If she was picking her nose or refusing to buckle the seatbelt you'd say something, wouldn't you?

    Posted by di February 11, 11 12:50 PM
  1. The mom is hateful, taking out her frustrations on a tiny little girl. It's STEPH who needs therapy - anger-management; feeling she has to compete with her child for control.

    She's humiliating and punishing her TINY LITTLE GIRL for the girl's natural reaction to stress. And three children in a row? How about more time in-between until the next one, so that you can cherish each with the time and love they need.

    Treat your 5-year-old with love, not with degradation.

    And no, carriefran, Steph is not "understandable." Steph is the GROWN-UP, and because of that she should show compassion to her DAUGHTER. And why, carriefran, do *you* have anger?

    If people can't control their anger, they shouldn't have children.

    Posted by reindeergirl February 11, 11 01:07 PM
  1. "And three children in a row? How about more time in-between until the next one, so that you can cherish each with the time and love they need."

    RDG, this comment of yours bothered me. There was a year between the first two, and then 3 years more before the last baby. It's ridiculous to think that parenting 3 kids under 7 years old isn't possible. Many of us don't wait years and years between having children. And it doesn't mean we don't have time to give each child the love she needs. There is nothing to suggest she doesn't have the time to cherish each child; she simply isn't handling this issue well. But to turn this into a judgment against having children within a few years of each other is unfounded. And obnoxious. You have no place to be judging people's reproductive choices.

    And for the record, the LW says "lately" she has become angry. She does NOT say she has been yelling for the past 2 years -- in fact, she says she started with rewards -- positive reinforcement.

    Posted by jjlen February 11, 11 01:44 PM
  1. It's too bad that it's so difficult to have a compassionate and civil conversation about parenting and how hard it can be. If everybody were a perfect parent or a perfect person, advice columns wouldn't be necessary.

    Reindeergirl, I'm sorry you feel so strongly about my response (and others... you attributed "understandable" to me, a word I didn't write), which was an attempt to be constructive and helpful. I'm not sure that responses like yours are a good way to demonstrate how to manage anger.

    Posted by carriefran February 11, 11 02:59 PM
  1. We don't know what exactly the writer has done that makes her feel so guilty about getting "angry" because she does not say what "so upset" looks like. A tone of frustration or a screaming fit? For all we know, if Mom so much as raises an eyebrow the kid goes ballistic and Mom spends an hour grovelling on her knees and promising ice cream sundaes.

    There was a letter just like this a while back, a dad was miffed that the son set off the fire alarm with the shower for the nth time, and the kid went into hysterics because Dad was mad and Mom was in a tizzy over Dad's "anger issues." Nobody said whether Dad hollered once over the sound of the shower and alarm, "Knock it off!" or whether he reamed the kid for half an hour. Same story here.

    How on earth are children supposed to learn how to deal with anger and frustration if parents walk on eggshells trying never to express them, as opposed to expressing them in a constructive and dignified manner?

    But hey, saying that means I am a control freak with major anger issues who should never have had children, I suppose.

    Posted by di February 11, 11 03:40 PM
  1. I love reindeergirl, really I do, but her post here tells me that she either does not have children, or if she does,she has never had one that at a very advanced age (5 is old for frequent accidents) pees in her pants Every Single Day --- For Two Years.

    It is sweet but ingenuous to think that parents never ever get angry. Maybe a robot parent, but a human one, um, no. Every parent, like every human being, gets angry on occasion. The LW doesn't say here how she expresses that anger, but my impression is with scolding, which may not be -- or in this case obviously is not -- effective, but which I very much doubt is causing her daughter lasting harm. It's not working, of course, which is why Steph wrote in.

    Steph has tried a lot of different ways to solve this issue with her daughter, without success. After two years, that she's frustrated is beyond understandable. I've had potty issues with my child, and I thought our issues were tough enough to deal with, but if I was going through what Steph and her daughter have been for TWO YEARS, I'd be at the end of my rope too. It's like suffering from a massive headache -- the first couple of days are managable, but once it becomes chronic and non-stop, it's the sheer unendingness of it that wears you down.

    I also think that you have to have had a very strong-willed child to understand where Steph is coming from. My oldest has always been very easy-going, but my youngest (who I love JUST AS MUCH) is very head-strong and the ensuing power struggles have required a whole different parenting toolbox. This youngest one is, probably not so coincidentally, the one with the potty issues.

    So, I guess I'm saying walk a mile in Steph's shoes before judging harshly folks. I very much doubt any of us could do much better.

    Posted by SandyEE February 11, 11 06:10 PM
  1. Good post SandyEE and jlen. I understand the LW's anger. My child is strongwilled and we had/still have some issues with our 4 year old and potty training...It is so frustrating. It can wear you down. It can make you very upset. I sometimes felt the need to walk away from my child. I would never hurt him but I had to calm down before talking to him so I could talk rationally and calmly. RDG: have you ever had a child stand in front of the toilet holding himself in pain because he has to pee so badly but refuses to sit or stand to pee, when the potty is right next to him????? Then you can't take him crying about it that you pick him up and put him on the potty yourself and while he pees, he is also taking a meltdown? my child recently got diagnoses with a very mild PDD. which explains his meltdown such as that. I would guess the LW's child doesn't have such an issue but what she is explaining really isn't out of norm. This happens ALOT. The mother really just needs to handle her frustrations better so she can help her child properly. I think many moms/dads can relate to her. Please don't act like you have never been frustrated or even angry at your child and maybe even had a "bad mommy moment" because I would be willing to bet that anyone judging this LW has.

    Posted by jd February 12, 11 09:09 AM
  1. Wow, reindeergirl, way too harsh. I hope someday, when you are in need of compassion, someone gives it to you, even though you certainly have shown NO compassion for this frustrated parent, who wrote in for our help. Shame on you for being so judgmental and high-and-mighty.

    Walk a mile in her shoes, let he who has not sinned cast the first stone, and other cliches I can't think of.

    Posted by Mia February 12, 11 01:18 PM
  1. My minister once told me a story that really hit home. Another mom in the congregation told her that she always felt very confident that she was a great mother -- until she had her second child and realized that it wasn't that she was a great mom, but that her first child had been so easy to parent.

    I also had thought I was pretty good, and I'm sure back then if I had read Steph's story, I would have thought, "well, of course all she has to do is XYZ -- and do it with a calm voice and a smile on her face." And then I had my second "spirited" child, and I truly realized just how much I had to learn about being a parent (and still have to learn). Raising spirited children has its joys, for sure, but it is also tremendously challenging, and few of us -- maybe none of us -- meet those challenges perfectly every single time they arise.

    Posted by SandyEE February 12, 11 03:52 PM
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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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