Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Out-Sneaking Sneaky Poo

One of the most exasperating problems parents of young children face is having a potty-trained child who continues to soil herself.  It's stinky.  It's messy.  It's embarassing for the child and parents, alike.  It creates a lot of extra laundry and clean-up.  And in some circumstances, it can alter a family's social life.

So, what's a parent to do?  Here's a few thoughts to help keep your cool when "sneaky poo" tries to get your skivvies in a bunch:

Remember: soiling problems are common.  You and your child are not alone.  The stigma surrounding soiling problems, however, can make it feel very lonely.

Your child is not the problem.  Sneaky poo is the problem.  You and your child must present a unified front to conquer sneaky poo.

Children have marvellously rich imaginary powers.  How can your child imagine herself out-sneaking sneaky poo?  If he were his favorite superhero, how would the superhero defeat sneaky poo?  If her favorite author wrote a story about a child who out-sneaked sneaky poo, how do you think the story would go?

Small successes are successes.  Celebrating and documenting successful moments will help add "stickiness" to those memories, which are easily overlooked if sneaky poo has a sneak attack.

 Michael White, an incredibly gifted therapist who left us too soon, literally wrote the book on overcoming sneaky poo.  He generously made his work on sneaky poo available to families.  It's an incredibly valuable resource that has helped countless families tackle the sneaky poo problem.

Here's wishing you and yours lots of clean, dry pants.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Resolve to Reach Resolution

So, you've made yet another new year's resolution:  to lose weight, to exercise more, to quit smoking, to spend less.  This time, you promise yourself, your sticking to it.  Really.

So where there's a will, there's a way, right?  Well, that's true, sort of, according to a recent article in the New York Times by John Tierney.  Turns out, we all have willpower, it just happens to be finite.  When there's willpower left in the tank, there's a way.

So, how does one keep from spending one's limited supply of willpower?  Avoid temptation.  Easy, right?

Let's say your resolution is to quit smoking.  All you have to do is avoid situations where cigarettes lurk.  In Seattle, the smoking ban in bars and restaurants is tremendously helpful.  But there's still the "smoker's corners" outside office buildings.  The ads for cigarettes at every gas station, convenience store, and grocery.  That's a lot of opportunity for temptation to set in.  Choose your daily route carefully.

So, what replenishes willpower?  Positive reinforcement.  What should you do with the money you saved by not buying a pack of cigarettes today?  Reward yourself with another pleasurable purchase:  a fun app for your phone, a favorite magazine, a warm drink, anything that says "reward!" to the pleasure center of your brain.  Longer-term rewards are good, too.  Curtailing a $6/day habit after a year could net you as much as $2000.  Cruise much, lately?

Accountability is another major factor in sticking to the resolution.  Share successes with a close confidante. Share failures, too.  Do a post-mortem on what's going well, and where you'd like to improve.  Saying it out loud to someone, writing it in a journal, keeping a blog, tweeting, putting post-it notes around your home or office (or both!), all of these activities will increase the "stickiness" of the changes you're making and will help hold you accountable to your plan.

There's enough willpower in your account to make the changes you'd like to see in your life.  Spend that willpower wisely, and when in doubt, phone a friend!