Monday, April 27, 2009

The One About Potty Training

A couple of you have asked about potty training and Positive Discipline and how that whole thing went down around here. I'm not sure I have any particular wisdom to share in this realm, since we have yet to have a smooth transition to the potty. But I'll share anyway, and perhaps you will learn from my mistakes!

I've heard of those kids who sort of potty train themselves and within a few days or weeks, after some miscalculations, mistakes, and messes, they're set! I even know several of these kids in person, so I know for a fact the existence of such creatures is not merely the stuff of playgroup mythology. Sadly for us, neither of our potty-trained children were these children.


The first time Ryan showed any interest at all in using the potty, he was 3 and Morgan was about 10 days old. I often wonder what would have happened if I had sucked it up--new baby, c-section post-op, and all--and just tried to get him going that very first time, if we could have avoided some of the stress and misery that lay in front of us. Oh well.

Flash forward about 9 months. Ryan, quickly approaching his 4th birthday, still had yet to do anything in a potty (outside of using it to store his trucks). I had really wanted him to initiate the potty training process, believing (and still do) that it's better to undertake such a project when the kid actually wants to do it.

We had done everything the experts recommend to prepare and encourage him: read potty books, placed the little potty in a convenient location, talked to him about it, put him on the potty whenever he looked like he needed to go. Not once did it work, and he resisted. But we were quickly growing impatient at having to change his diapers, particularly when he was so resistant to the diaper-changing process, too! (He was a very challenging 3 year old.)

So we had some more talks and bought exciting Spider-Man underwear and "toilet targets" and all of those other things you are supposed to do, declared "No more diapers!" because I'd read that sometimes such a declaration will nudge the little, ah, pooper along. After three days of absolutely no success, we decided to wait a little while longer.

And we went through this every month until he was nearly 4.

I was determined not to bribe him to use the potty, but I did break down at one point and gave him something (can't remember just what) after a few successes. But then the first time I didn't reward him, he looked at me and actually said "Well then why should I use the potty?" and peed his pants. Taught me a lesson about bribing him, that's for sure!

We cleaned up messes calmly for the most part, but I must admit that after a while, it was just SO HARD to stay calm every time. This was one of those "Why is he doing this TO ME?" things for me. I took it so personally--and I really can't say why. It just made me so mad. He is so bright and intelligent--why couldn't he get this? What was wrong with me? What had I done wrong? Was there something wrong with him? This was me, not at my PD parenting best, and even though I never hit him or put him in time out or any of those other punishing things--I punished him by my behavior--yelling and threatening and being too upset. Not only was he unhappy, I was unhappy with myself. :o(

It was so frustrating! He didn't seem to care that the other kids in his gymnastics and soccer classes were out of diapers. He didn't seem to care that he made a mess. He didn't seem to care that he was wet or poopy. And then I think it occurred to me one day--he didn't seem to care because he didn't care. And he wouldn't do it unless he really truly did care. Seems so obvious, doesn't it? Once I came to that place, it was easier overall to deal with it. I was able to get a handle on my own frustration and get back to approaching this in a more positive way.

So we kept on encouraging and talking about it--not every second, but when it seemed a natural time to bring it up, like when he followed one of us into the bathroom. Brendan showed him some guy techniques and I think he might have been mildly interested in that. :o) We had the potty out in the family room so he could get there easily and so it wouldn't interrupt his work too much.

The thing that finally got him motivated was his sudden interest in swimming lessons. Every program I looked into for 4 year olds and up required the kid to be potty trained. One mention of that requirement combined with his own actual real true desire--suddenly he wanted to! And he finally did. There were the usual miscalculations, mistakes, and messes, and within a few weeks, he did it!

What a relief! But what I didn't know is that there's no guarantee they'll stay potty trained. Huh? Yup.

I had always viewed potty training as a process with a definitive end result--someone who no longer needs diapers. Once the kid has reached that point, you're "done," right?

For the next 2 years almost, Ryan would experience bouts of potty regression. Just when I'd get comfortable leaving the house without backup pants, he'd start forgetting. A lot. He also developed a tendency to withhold his bowel movements, which fortunately, did NOT turn into true encopresis (which is a medical issue that can take years to clear up). The long and short of it is that he needed constant reminders to stop what he was doing and take care of his bodily functions. Constant. In particular, if he had been withholding, we'd make him sit on the potty every few hours for a couple of days to reestablish his "routine" again.

I can now confidently say that he's potty trained! And what we now know about Ryan is this: he does NOT want to interrupt his cerebral activities to take care of physical needs. This has been true in the potty realm and remains true about eating and drinking, too. We make sure he poops once a day--which he needs to do but still seems to delay until the end of the day sometimes--because he's too busy to stop! We also make him stop to rehydrate when he's playing outside on a hot day. We make him stop and eat something because he gets really cranky when he doesn't. The kid has a really hard time stopping, and that's just how he is. And now we know that! So what Brendan and I must do for this child is help him recognize the signals of his body, help him attend to them before things get too dire, and understand why it's important to take care of your body.

Now Morgan is a different story--but it's a shorter one, so bear with me! A few months before she turned 3, she announced to us that she'd be using the potty now. We were flying out of town that weekend, so we told her she could start once we got back from our trip, since I didn't want a brand new potty trainer at the airport. After my experience with Ryan, I was nervous about not taking the opportunity the moment it presented itself, but it couldn't really be helped.

We returned from our trip, set up the potty, and had a few days of Zero Success. I was disheartened, but determined not to make a big deal of it, since she was A.) interested and B.) actually doing something in the potty, and C.) a whole year younger than Ryan was when he trained. Sure enough, about a month later, she announced to us again that she was ready to try.

And after a few weeks of the usual miscalculations, mistakes, and messes, she was trained! Just before her third birthday, too. I couldn't believe it. And I was pretty excited, too, since the baby wasn't due for 3 more months, I figured her potty habits would have plenty of time to become ingrained and we wouldn't have to worry about that New Baby Potty Regression I had always heard about.


After Sean was born, Morgan did not act jealous; she did not try to jump on my lap every time I held the baby; she did not drop a shoe on his head (a classic Ryan maneuver). She was a wonderful, attentive, helpful Big Sister. Except for one. little. thing.

She completely and utterly stopped using the potty. She didn't go back to Square One--she reverted to Square Zero. And just in time for our big road trip to the beach! I hated to do it, but we did put her back in Pullups for that big trip, explaining that we just wouldn't be able to stop so many times for "let's just see" potty breaks. I just couldn't do it, not with a brand new baby, too (of course, we were careful not to make the baby the reason we couldn't stop).

And then she took a page out of Ryan's book, and the last 6 months or so have been a tale of starts and stops, a few weeks here, a few weeks there. Because of my experience with Ryan, I have handled it much, much better than I did with him, but there have been times with that old "Why are you doing this TO ME?" feeling would creep up and I've gotten upset with her. And then I'd remind myself to Assume Positive Intent and apologize to her and we'd all try again. With Morgan in particular, I've noticed an inverse correlation between my level of upsetness and her inclination to use the potty. So I've really learned to relax.

The last two months have been excellent, and while I still do take backup clothes for her most places we go, she has been very reliable. But I haven't really let my guard down all the way yet. :o)

Here are things I've learned, and hopefully will remember to apply them to Sean when it's his time:
  • It really goes easier when the child is the one wanting to train, although, it's okay not to wait forever.
  • There might be no definitive moment in time when the child is officially trained.
  • Patience.
  • Bribery backfired on us.
  • Don't take it personally.
  • Also, don't take it personally.
  • If they are not successful, try to identify why--for me, it was so helpful to identify Ryan's not wanting to interrupt his work for ANYTHING, not just the potty. (I now know him much better than I did, and so I suppose that's the silver lining to this tale.)
  • Feel them out before using the "You're a Big Kid" statement as a way to encourage them. Ryan hated that whole idea. Morgan LOVED the concept, and would proudly exclaim, "I'm a Big Girl!"
  • Girls really need extra wiping help for a long time--Miss M keeps developing something called "vaginitis" which is similar to a diaper rash and is really painful.
  • Give them towels so they can help clean up messes, just as they do when they spill drinks, etc. That's something they can be involved in.
  • Buy tons and tons and tons of underwear. Save the fancy ones for after you're mostly sure they've got the idea (but be aware that you'll probably be going through those pretty quickly, too.)
  • Buying fancy "kid" handsoap has encouraged handwashing, but stay away from the brand (can't remember--Huggies maybe? I go by the bottle) that has the "neon" colors because they stain. Especially the purple kind.
  • Read all of those books and stash little potties everywhere and talk about it and learn the boy tricks and do all of those things you're supposed to do, because they really do help.
  • Be sure to celebrate their accomplishment! They should be proud and you can share in it.

And never forget the wisdom of this time-honored Mommy mantra: This, too, shall pass.


Jennifer Snow said...

Huh. My mother had a completely different approach to potty-training that seemed to work well for my family (I can't distinctly remember having any "accidents" with either of my brothers and I cleaned up many of their diapers when I was babysitting, so if there'd been a big problem I would have).

When we were as young as 18 or even 12 months, when we'd start making that "I'm grunting one out" face, she'd scoop us up and put us on the toilet. No fuss, no muss, just *zoom!* at an age when it was still kind of hilarious to us the things Mom would get up to. By the time we were running around independently we were already used to "going" on the toilet, so there was no question of "training", just refining our timing and wiping skills.

Now, I can't say for sure how great this method is. I don't remember the process even for my youngest brother all that clearly and I do know that my middle brother wet the bed for a while when he was 4/5. But it might be worth giving it a shot with Sean to see if you can get him to be totally blase and at home with the potty well before there's even a question of "training".

I've seen my mother use this method to great effect in other areas as well. For instance, she was a single mom until I was 7 but I never had a "why don't I have a daddy?!" freaking-out episode because in our house, That Was Just The Way Things Were. In fact, I was a little weirded out when one of my daycare pals was picked up by his dad one day and caused much hilarity among the adults when I pooh-poohed the idea of having a dad as superfluous and unnecessary. It might work equally well with potty training--instead of treating using the potty like an aberration and exception to the routine, just act like using the potty is The Way Things Are and NOT going in the potty is the unusual surprise (not a horrifying one, just unusual).

Crimson Wife said...

My oldest was easily trained for #1 at 2 1/2 but for some reason would refuse to do #2 in the potty for about 6 months. I knew she had control over her bowels because would consistently do #2 in her Pull-up at nap time. I tried a bunch of different things but nothing worked. Eventually, I broke down and bribed her.

First, I told her she could have a small toy if she did #2 in the potty and not in her Pull-up for 1 day. Next, I offered her a larger toy if she used the potty for a week. Finally, I said she could have a big present if she used the potty for a whole month.

After the month, she was used to going in the potty.

Travis N said...

We've been having Ryan-esque struggles with potty training our 2.75-year-old. (This might have been inferred from the fact that I requested a potty training post!) We "started" 4 or 5 months ago, and he got the hang of #1 pretty quickly, but (like Ryan) just doesn't seem to quite care or get the point. So he still has #1 accidents all the time, and going #2 on the potty has only happened roughly twice in all this time. We've cycled through higher- and lower-pressure approaches and resorted occasionally to small bribes (without any real success).

Our current approach is not to pressure him to try, but to make the cleaning-up-after-accidents process something that (while totally calm and pleasant) he is intimately involved in and (stealing Jenn's patented style here) just. takes. a. long. time. Like Ryan, ours just can't seem to understand why it makes sense to stop playing with the trainset for one minute to make pee or poop in the toilet, so this is our attempt at appropriate natural consequences: make it take 15 minutes to clean up after the "accident" and eventually he'll do the cost-benefit analysis correctly.


I would also like to register that I'm curious about the "guy techniques" mentioned in the post. Are we just talking about standing up here? I never really thought of that as a special "technique" I guess. Or maybe there are some other/better tricks I don't know about?

Rational Jenn said...

Hi Jennifer! I know of moms who handle potty training just the same way your Mom did-there's even a name for it: Elimination Communication. (I think Monica at Spark a Synapse might have had a post about it.) It certainly has its advantages in that it acclimates the kid to using the potty from a young age. Both Morgan and Sean had very young experiences with the potty. The downside to it is that it takes quite a bit of time to do and in our case, the baby will still spend a goodly amount of time in diapers since we're out and about so much with activities for the older kids. So it's not something I choose to do. That said, Sean will spend a good amount of time naked this summer (because I just love me some naked babies!) and when I happen to catch him in the moment, yes, I will put him on the potty.

CW--I think in Ryan's case, the idea of swimming lessons was its own reward. My futile attempt at bribery reinforced for me that PD was the way to go for us. Ultimately, I'm glad he really *chose* to go versus me having to coerce him with bribes. I think if the bribery had worked, it would have been more tempting for me to try in other areas. I don't know if you've been following my other PD posts or not, actually--you have! I need to respond to your other comment, sorry!--but bribery is not part of the PD technique.

Another thing that I learned about this is that you can't really FORCE a person to do any kind of bodily function. Not pee, not eat, not sleep. You can set up the conditions so as to encourage what you think they need to do, but I can't actually MAKE anybody pee, let alone where I want them to do it. So I have to encourage. What I can force when necessary, is the stopping of other activities to take care of their personal business. That I can--and do--force. And I'm more gentle about it, too. Because yelling--that doesn't encourage people--it only scares them and makes them mad. Sorry, thoughtful tangent there.

Travis--I feel confident in saying that YES, he will use the potty. For me, getting their help with cleanups without becoming angry with them was very tricky. So they were not always consistently involved in that, because when I was feeling angry I figured it was better for them to be away from me until I got a hold of my temper versus staying with me to clean up and get fussed at. :o( (Just being completely honest here.) So I don't know if that cost-benefit analysis would have kicked in with them earlier had I been able to remove the stick in my behind about the whole thing and remain calm. If you are doing that, kudos, and yes, I think he'll figure it out.

Keep in mind that boys tend to train later than girls for some reason. Ryan was 4 when he really got it (the first time, haha!), and while that is on the late side for boys, it's still not totally crazy outside the norm. I think the average for boys is 3.5. So he may just need more time to mature.

Does he also not want to interrupt his work for other things like eating, drinking, sleeping? One thing we do with Ryan even now, is go the "It's been a while and I think you need to eat/drink/try the potty. When can you pause your project to do that--2 minutes or 3 minutes?" And then he knows it's coming, has a voice in WHEN it happens, and if you have to make him stop, you can always reference your agreement--"You told me 3 more minutes and 3 more minutes is up. So let's just try the potty really quick and you can get back to your game."

Also, with Morgan, racing to the potty was a great idea "Race ya!" and telling her to do the opposite is always funny "DON'T sit on the potty! Noooooo! Well, then, you better not pee! Oh no! I hear pee! Well then, don't wipe and flush!...."

Might make those other suggestions into a quick follow up post, now that I think about it.

Travis N said...

I think we've done a pretty good job keeping our tempers in check during accident clean-up events. But it's still really quite hard to maintain that measured, respectful, calm demeanor and get the child himself fully involved in clean-up. I mean, a person who is willing to poop in his own pants is only going to be able and willing to do so good a job of cleaning up afterwards, right? My wife's co-worker tells a funny story of what happened when she went on vacation and their 3 year old son was home alone with daddy. While daddy napped, the boy pooped on the toilet -- and cleaned up -- all by himself. There was literally poop smeared all over the walls of the bathroom and beyond. That would be the sort of natural consequence we're not interested in seeing!

We also use "when can you pause?" all the time. In the last few months, this has evolved into asking him, when something needs to happen, "When would you like to do X?" The answer, for some reason, is *always* "two minutes". (It's not the only number he knows, but it might be the only time duration he knows. But then, he has no understanding of how long two minutes actually is. Anyway.) So then we hit the "start" button on a digital watch timer (pre-set to 2 minutes of course) and when it beeps, there's the signal that it's time to do X. It functions like the written schedules that I think Nelson/PD advocates. It "objectifies" the requirement so it's coming more from reality and less from authority. Anyway, he's generally very good at doing what needs to be done when the watch beeps, especially when the concept of doing it in two minutes was volunteered by him.

Kelly Elmore said...


We used elimination communication with Livy for over a year, and loved it. In the end, I put her in diapers because of our breastfeeding problems. I just couldn't face anymore work. But, she wore cloth diapers which I think helped. She could feel when she was wet in them. She could take them off, put them in the basket, and ask for another one. It kept her tuned into when she was going and when she wasn't. She did wear some disposables, but she would always tell me after she had peed once and I would change her immediately. The cloth trained her well in that. I think it can be too easy to let a baby sit in pee when there is a disposable diaper. They don't feel it at all, and so why should they care that they peed? Why should they care at any age, if the diaper keeps them from feeling wet?


Kelly Elmore said...

One more thing: I think that cloth diapers preserve the natural consequence of feeling wet when you pee. They get wet and heavy and less comfortable. But they take away the natural consequence that would violate my right not to have everything I own covered in pee. They were a great compromise for us.

Rational Jenn said...

Kelly . . . "would violate my right not to have everything I own covered in pee."

LOL! :o) I'm still laughing!

By the way, I completely agree with you that cloth diapers help them get the connection much better. Our decision not to use them comes from a value assessment--disposable diapers might (probably?) result in a more difficult potty transition, but means less laundry for me now, which given the state of my laundry and my values is a good trade off for ME. This would fall under "optional values" I think? Same with not going completely EC, given the other things we've got going on.

I've been thinking about the nature of Optional Values lately, so am posting this comment as a way to illustrate my understanding of the idea. If anyone thinks I'm misunderstanding it, please let me know.

I have often wished for the fortitude for cloth diapers, but I'm happy with our decision--just remind me in 2 years when Sean is potty training! :o)

Travis N said...

Funny you should mention "optional values." I was on the verge of writing a comment about this the other day, when another commenter on your last PD post sort of blithely dismissed debate about the merits of PD by saying it was "optional" (and then providing a dubious elaboration of the meaning of that term). I don't know if the commenter meant to be using the term in the sense that "optional values" is a term-of-art in Objectivism, but it struck me that some further discussion of the idea might be warranted. But I was busy that day and never got around to it. Maybe you've been thinking about this for that same reason?

My understanding is that an optional value is one which (unlike, say, rationality or pride) is not prescribed universally by morality, but which is rather made moral by the conjunction of universal moral principles and a given individual's other existing value commitments. Optional values are thus in some sense "relative" to a person's other values, but that in no way makes them subjective or outside the province of morality. Strictly speaking, *my* "optional values" are not optional at all, but are morally *mandatory* (for me, that is, given my existing network of other values). For example, being a good parent is an optional value in the sense that it wouldn't apply to people without kids -- but that doesn't mean that there is any subjectivity involved, nor that (for any of the people reading this blog!) being a good parent is not a requirement of morality. For us, shirking our parental responsibilities would be a vicious moral treason.

What struck me as dubious about that earlier commenter's comment was that he seemed to be saying that, since "how to parent" was in the realm of the optional, there was no point worrying too much about discovering or formulating the right way to do it. Now, one doesn't necessarily have to discuss everything in every moment. It could be perfectly rational to postpone thinking or arguing about a certain topic, even to postpone it indefinitely, on the grounds that achieving the ultimately desired sort of knowledge would be practically impossible. The commenter's comment seemed to contain an element of this when he suggested that neither he nor Jenn had the kind of expertise that would be required to settle the question. I think that's dubious, but it's at least a sensible grounds in principle for avoiding a debate. But then one should more carefully cite "lack of knowledge" as the grounds for avoiding a discussion -- not the "optionality" of the values involved. Because it simply is not true that, where optional values are concerned, morality (or more broadly, reason) is useless or silent.

(Let me say, too, that I'm probably going way overboard in extrapolating from just a few quick comments by that earlier commenter. So hopefully this can be taken just as some further thinking about "optional values" that happens to have been triggered by those earlier comments, but which is not at all intended as a criticism of the earlier commenter. I'd have to know a lot more about that person and his beliefs before knowing if the critical aspect of what I'm saying here applies to him or not. And I don't really care about that anyway.)

In summary, I think Jenn is using the term just the right way. Cloth diapers are an optional value for Kelly, and disposables are an optional value for Jenn.

What is "EC"?

Kelly Elmore said...

I think you are right, Jenn, that using cloth diapers is optional, in the sense that I don't think choosing not to makes you a bad parent. But, I think it is important to note things which are more beneficial for children, but may not benefit the family as a whole. For me, co-sleeping was that kind of a choice. I think it is definitely better for a child to sleep with its parents. But, because I was incredibly sleep deprived and depressed when Livy was a baby, co-sleeping left me more exhausted and out of control of my temper. So, on the whole, for our family, it was better not to co-sleep. I think cloth diapering is the same kind of thing. Cloth diapering is better for children than disposables, just as elimination communication is better than diapers of any kind. But looked at selfishly in the context of all members of the family, it might not be a benefit. I do think that a parent should be prepared that potty training might be difficult and not be too surprised that the child doesn't care about being wet, though, if the family chooses to use disposables.

Jennifer Snow said...

Double huh. My mother used cloth diapers with me and my middle brother, but disposables with the youngest (cloth diapers are a LOT of work, because it's not just more laundry, it's laundry that has to be soaked and bleached and folded to kingdom come and we were living in a fourth-floor walkup apartment with the laundry in the BASEMENT), and the youngest definitely had the biggest problems with overall potty training.

Kelly Elmore said...

Cloth diapers are more work, and I can't imagine using them without a washer and dryer in the house! But the modern ones are much easier. No folding, no pins, and I just threw them into the wash. No bleach for me, unless people had been ill.

Kevin McAllister said...

Your experience with Ryan sounds similar to the one I had with Allison. Albeit a bit earlier. We did go a rewards route for one of the tries, but, that was mostly dubious. She has a large drive for independence, and it wasn't until she was physically capable of the whole thing, more or less by herself, that she got interested. The odd thing was we had two or three times when she was great at it and we thought we were in the promised land, one example is we were in Disney World for a week when she was 2.5, and she was doing a great job (maybe 1 accident), even with all the craziness entailed on a family vacation. But she quickly reverted to zero when we came home. For about 8 or 9 months she's been good except for the occasional not wanting to stop doing something accident.

Ashley on the other had was one of those magical children you described early in your post. We've long known that once she makes her mind up about anything, that's just the way it is for good or ill. Somehow she decided that she wanted to use the potty like her big sister, and within a week with only a handful of misses she was good. We also used some rewards with her, and she really embraced them. She loved the idea of being able to do something and get them. I was worried about transitioning away from the rewards, but we had no problems. I suspect the rewards were just icing on the cake, she had the burning desire to not wear diapers like her cousin, and be more like her big sister with her panties. Based on our experience with Allison we kept her in pull-ups at night/naptime for another two weeks, but she was keeping them clean, so we just said okay, you're done. This was, February. She's only had one bad day since then, and maybe 2 other accidents. She'll be 3 at the end of June. The contrast was completely amazing. It was so long and so many cleanups with Allison, we were reluctant to start with Ashley. But I'm glad we did, I've already embraced the fact that I don't need to change any diapers for a long long time.

Liese said...

Good to know. My almost 4 y/o daughter will pee, on occasion, in the toilet, but she has a GI issue with #2 and never gets poop in the toilet. I know she can't know when it's coming, but how old will she be before she can sense it and run to the potty?

She has loose bowels between 1 and 3 times a day and I just can't want to put pantys on her and clean them. UGH!

Bill Brown said...

Travis: if you remember my comment, I said that everyone here is a conscientious parent who puts a lot of thought and effort into being a good parent. That is not the optional part. If you are a parent, you must strive to be the best parent you can be. But how you go about that and what works best for you *is* optional.

You spoke of the personal aspect of "optional values." In that sense, tennis and golf would be optional to me. I could do either as a form of recreation and either would be morally acceptable.

But there's another sense of "optional values" that's just as important. I think it's an application of justice. For example, the need for art is decidedly not optional, but what piece of art resonates with an individual is optional. You may find Aerosmith refreshing and wonderful whereas I can't stand them. It's not an issue of morality: I can't say that you're not acting in accord with the needs of man's life, nor can you say that about me. I would regard this as a social aspect to "optional values."

That is the sense in which I meant "optional" in my previous "dubious" comment. In judging someone else, you must separate out what is optional from what is moral. There is a tendency to conflate the two. On my family blog, we had a huge tempest when we announced that we were going to stop using cloth diapers for our new son. We were roundly condemned for the move. People had clearly failed to distinguish between the moral and the optional.

For the matter at hand, I believe that PD versus my still-unlabelled parenting style is optional. I "blithely dismiss" debate on this because it too often falls into a moral vs. optional dust-up. I read Jenn's posts and I think that they're outrageous, that I can't believe anyone would let their children do such things, and so on. And I start a comment, but then remember that this is an optional matter. It works for her and her family; her children will be rational adults because *she focused on raising them*. She exudes conscientiousness and that is the hallmark of a good parent--and I think that is the most vital ingredient in raising children.

So I use timeouts in my parenting. And I've used rewards in getting my children to be conscientious during potty training. You guys don't. Aside from obvious good parenting disqualifiers like beatings or negligence, I believe that how one goes about being a good parent is optional. My children are wonderful: they're independent, curious, respectful (for the most part), and active. They're going to turn out to be rational adults because my wife and I focus all of our energies towards that.

(Sorry if that Jenn stuff up there offended anyone, I'm sure that any one of you would read similar blog entries by me with shock. We have different methods of achieving the same end.)

Bill Brown said...

Incidentally, I call this whole phenomenon "optional intolerance" and it is yet another blog entry I intend to write. The aforementioned cloth diaper firestorm started me on this quest for a "theory of the Dean," so to speak.

Kelly Elmore said...

I agree that there are lots of different ways to be a good parent. But I don't understand why you don't want to talk about them. Perhaps I could learn from your disagreements with the stuff Jenn and I believe. I learn from Jenn all the time, and often, I learn the most when we do things differently. Then I see other ways, and I can decide if I think they are better or worse. Open debate and dialogue is really helpful to me. I'm sure there are things I could learn from your way of doing things, and I can't imagine you have nothing to learn from us. If it was just an interest thing, I guess I would understand. But you do seem to be interested in these ideas, so why not discuss them?

Bill Brown said...

It's not *exactly* that I don't want to talk about them. It's mostly that I don't have time to be leaving comments and keeping up with discussions. (I've done it here before and it was a real time sink at my work. I'm in the middle of a big project.)

It's partly because I don't feel particularly welcome here. Your and Jenn's comments recently notwithstanding, this blog is very rah-rah PD rocks cheerleading. Other views are readily dismissed as "Old School" or "of course, I would never do such and such" where such and such is something we do at our house. I feel like any dissenting opinion I left would result in a strong discussion and I would feel compelled to respond and follow along. That would conflict with my number #1 reason for not discussing my ideas--time constraints.

This is a PD blog and I am 100%, a-okay with that. If I do any parenting blog entries, I'd do them on my blogs.

Bill Brown said...

To put it another way, I am very susceptible to this problem.

Bill Brown said...

Also, more à propos of the subject, our then-youngest potty trained at 18 months on the toilet and started wearing underwear to bed at about 20 months. The secret: we were potty training her big sisters (then maybe a tad over 3) and she wanted in on that action. (This was a freak occurrence and I would not recommend having additional children just to get through potty training more easily.)

The general point would be that siblings can be of tremendous help in this area. They were encouraging, sat with her in the bathroom, and ran along with her when the call of nature came. We didn't even ask them to participate; they were eager to help.

Heike L. said...

I am currently potty training my 2 1/4 year old (and have a 3-month old baby.) We had very good success with #1 - still no luck on #2. She's dry most of the time, and in underwear whenever awake - still in pull-ups at night and during naps.

Here's what worked for us, kind of: We made potty training part of our normal daily routine early on. When she was a little over a year, we bought a little potty, and had her sit on it every morning as part of getting ready for the day, and every night before going to bed. No protests - she enjoyed the story time on the potty (too much at times...) Sometime around 18 months, she started going most mornings, and we felt great!

Then life intervened - we travelled a lot, and potty training practically stopped, as she wouldn't use the little travel potty we took along.

When she was 22 months (and I was 7 months pregnant), we decided to get serious to see if we could get this done prior to the new baby: I was very motivated to not have two in diapers, and ready to put in the effort. So we made the potty part of they daily routine - whenever mommy went to the toilet, we'd sit down with her, read a book, go on with business. We didn't ask her - we just took her there (a lot, since I was very pregnant!) Sometimes, she resisted - but just like washing hands or brushing teeth, going potty became a non-debatable event, and yes, we took her there physically when needed, until she learned to just go along (most of the time.) Luckily, she likes to read, so the books usually did the trick of getting her to sit there for a few minutes. We also bought 'Dora' underwear, and let her know she could wear that when she went potty - 'big girl underwear.'

7 weeks of 6-8 trips per day - and we saw maybe a handful of successful sessions, and typically had 1-3 times a day where we led/took her there more or less (i.e., less!) willingly. Frustratingggg!

We kept at it, though, because we thought during all that time that she was 'ready': she could tell us all the steps of going potty, knew where pee was supposed to go, and, very often, had dry pull-ups when we took her to the potty. She wouldn't pee on the potty - but within 5 minutes of us putting the pull-up back on, it was wet regularly. We also at times had her run around naked for extended periods (in the mornings, when we got ready) - and she'd hold her pee, until we put the pull-up on, which then immediately was wet.

Just as we thought we'd give up for now, and start again in several months, we tried a few last ditch efforts - offering small bribes (she picked gummy bears), which didn't do much, and then getting her favorite teddy bear a potty (aka, a Tupperware dish with a circle cut out of the cover.)

That seemed to do the trick: the first morning I had Teddy's potty, she put her teddy on the potty, and accepted our invitation to go herself. She peed- got up, flushed, peed again, flushed, peed, flushed - and after four times, said 'Mama, no diapy, underwear.' I reluctantly gave in - dealt with 3 days of constant messes everywhere (every 20 minutes, it seems!), but by the end of the week, she was down to 1-2 accidents per day, and it was usually just a slight wetting, not a full flow.

She's in underwear now in & out of the house. She rarely tells us when she needs to go - but we just take her regularly, at about 2 hour intervals, whenever there is a transition in what we do, or a public toilet available when we are out. The last two weeks, she's started to go on her own occasionally - just disappears, and then comes back, pants half pulled up, and declares 'I go potty all by myself.'

(She did have some 'protest' accidents about 6-8 weeks after her brother arrived - but (hopefully!) she's over that regression by now.)

So for #1 - the key items for us were:
- Making it part of the routine - just something that happens at certain times/transitions. We don't ask, ever, whether she needs to go - just like we don't ask whether she wants to nap, or eat breakfast, or brush her teeth. We just declare: 'Ok, time to go to music class - let's get ready, first step, go potty, then we'll put on the coat.'
- Keeping at it - for a long time (at least that's what it seemed like) - until she decided to go. Then - the routine was already established, and I think that helped getting the rest done quickly.
- Deal with refusals to go (which do happen often, even now - she's a two-year-old, and very spirited!) with references to that routine: 'Ok, you don't have to go potty now - but remember, we can't leave the house unless everybody has gone potty. You can choose to not go, and we'll stay here until you are ready - or you can go now, and we'll have more time at the playground.' Usually, after about 5 minutes, she'll then go - but we've been late to classes, too, and cancelled an occasional trip.
- Make sure we as adults plan for potty breaks - and accept responsibility when we forget and she wets. Easier to stay calm - when I know I messed up. (Different question when I ask her to go, then have to resort to 'consequences', and while she doesn't go, she wets - I then do let her know firmly that that's why we have potty time, and ask her to help clean up.)
- And little bribes did help - esp. when she was in refusal mode, she'd go for a gummy bear. I know, that's not PD - but it sure helps when we do really need to get out of the house...

Now, if we could only get #2 done: that now happens first thing in the morning, in her pull-up, and in the afternoon, after her nap, in her pull-up - both times before we know she's awake. Haven't figured out yet how to handle that one (no, I am NOT ready to have her in underwear and strip the bed twice a day until she gets it!)

BTW - there is a good book that I used as a guide during this process - 'Diaper Free Before Three', by Jill M. Lekovic.

Kelly Elmore said...

Bill, I totally understand about the time crunch thing. I don't blog myself, and Jenn's is the only one I follow really closely, so I don't spend that much time doing this.

I will drop this after this comment, cause obviously, what you do is your own business. But, it is a little bit annoying when people post and say that our ideas are shocking, wrong, permissive, etc, and then don't back that up. I'm pretty sure I would disagree with some of your parenting posts, but I wouldn't post anything about it if I was going to refuse to discuss it.

Anyway, I agree that copying the big kids works, and not just in potty training. My daughter isn't very interested in learning to read most of the time, but when we go to Jenn's and she sees Morgan and Ryan reading, suddenly we have to spell words all the way home.

Rational Jenn said...

Hi Bill! I will write more about Optional Values another time, but I will say that I think Travis explained it pretty well and that I'm in agreement with him. I'm still thinking through what I want to say on the matter though.

I totally get not wanting to get caught up in a big comment thing, and in general, I also prefer to write blog posts as an "answer" to something I've seen elsewhere in the blogosphere. I sincerely hope you choose to write up your ideas.

I'm a little baffled that you'd think dissent is unwelcome here. Of course I'm "rah-rah PD rocks" because I wouldn't use it with my kids, let alone write about it, unless I absolutely thought it was a discipline method that helps kids learn limits and appropriate behaviors as well as encourages them (and me!) to act and think virtuously, in the Objectivist sense. So I write about it, partly as a way to clarify some of my thinking for my own benefit, but also as a way to, well, cheer this discipline method on and educate other parents that there is another way.

That doesn't mean I don't want people questioning my premises--and if you don't have the time or want to do that, that's perfectly fine of course. But I hope that you and any other parent (Objectivist or not) who reads about my ideas and doesn't like them or is confused about PD will sometimes take the time to be specific about what it is that you don't like. And honestly, if I didn't want to open myself up to critique, I wouldn't have a public blog and write about some of these very difficult, very personal things. I am well aware that many people disagree with the ideas I'm presenting here--and not just you, so I certainly don't mean to seem as if I'm picking on you here--there have been recent threads on HBL and on other Objectivist discussion lists that indicate that I am probably in the minority here. I realize that.

To be frank, though, I'm curious. You say that the things I do with my kids are outrageous or too permissive--but then you don't tell me exactly what it is. A specific example or two would really help.

I'll drop this, too, but I am looking forward to your POV on this if you ever choose to write it up.

Rational Jenn said...

Also, Heike, Liese, and Kevin--welcome and thank you for sharing your stories! I think the teddy bear using the potty thing is a great idea--and maybe I'll get to use it with Sean! Hang in there, Liese, and Kevin--I'm glad your younger daughter was much easier for you! Overall, I think Morgan was a breeze compared to Ryan--if we hadn't gone and given her that little brother, I'm sure she'd have never regressed....Oh well!

Travis N said...

Bill, I think we agree that decisions about, say, whether to use cloth diapers or use time-outs are in the realm of the morally optional. What strikes me as dubious about your comments isn't just that you have some concrete belief (like that time-outs are good). I'd be very open to hearing arguments on either side of that kind of question, as I don't consider myself as having certainty on these issues. What strikes me as weird is just that you seem interested in these issues, are apparently a regular reader of and commenter on this blog, and yet don't seem to want to present arguments for or against anything. Instead you just write everything off as "optional", as if that meant there was no objective (even if personal and contextual) truth. My attitude is that I want to find out what is the right thing for me to do as a parent. I recognize that that might not look exactly like it would look for some other parent. So what? I can still engage with other people and try to learn something of value to me, even if it comes from recognizing why something that is good for them given their constellation of values, isn't the best thing for me given mine.

In summary, what struck (and continues to strike) me as a little weird in your comments is that you seem to consider any discussion or debate about "optional" issues as pointless or worthless or inherently subjective. But being optional hardly means an issue is irrelevant to life and unamenable to rational analysis. To use your example of response to art, sure, responding favorably to Aerosmith is optional. But still, whether you like Aerosmith or not, you might learn something useful (say about the causes or propriety of your own response) from debating the relevant aesthetic with others.

That said, you're under no obligation to discuss anything with anybody, so this is getting a little weird, even for me! I suspect you are a very fine parent, and I hope in the future you'll find a way to share (in a slightly more constructive way) your criticisms of PD on this blog (or somewhere else where I can see them). Whether I end up agreeing with the criticisms or not, I know I would learn something either way from the engagement.

Bill Brown said...

Travis: not once did I say that this is all too personal for discussion, or that it's all subjective anyway, or that it's fruitless. By delimiting parenting choices as "optional," I was saying that while I disagree with PD I would never regard its adherents as immoral. I couldn't go into a sufficient criticism of PD then but I didn't want anyone to think I was saying anything negative about them. You're definitely reading too much into this.

Jenn: I felt unwelcome because of word choices that set the tone of at least several of your entries. You characterized two approaches to discipline as "PD" and "Old School," which presumably was the "children should be seen and not heard" authoritarian style of yesteryear. Throughout entries and comments, you and others would say "obviously I would never such and such" or "of course, I didn't do this and that." These dismissals told me that you regarded those who do such and such or this and that as ridiculous and self-evidently wrong. I could dig up some specific examples, but I think that conveys the general idea. I'm sure (especially given your explicit statements since I've been participating in these two comment threads) that you don't want to pooh-pooh other viewpoints, but the tone seemed to indicate otherwise.

As far as substantive PD criticism, I believe that letting your children do whatever they want with suggestive input from parents is too permissive. For example, we have a bedtime at our house. Sometimes the kids are tired and sometimes they're not. If we left it up to them, they would most certainly stay up too late. At the ages they are (5, 5, 4, and 1), they would suffer horribly the next day because of sleep deprivation. The idea, as I understand it, is that you would allow them to do that and then point out the lesson the next day. And then when they did it the next time, you'd repeat. Eventually, goes the theory, they'd learn the lesson that they need an appropriate amount of sleep. The child, having discovered the need for sleep for himself instead of having it forced on him by the parent, has internalized the matter and will willingly go to bed on what-would-have-been the authoritarian bedtime because it just makes sense.

But children (at the ages I'm dealing with) aren't rational. Such a lesson is completely appropriate for a sufficiently-rational person. They are proto-rational. They often operate on whim and emotion. To see rationality where there is none is akin to thinking that a parrot is actually conversing with you. (I am not at all saying that a child is a parrot. I am suggesting that kids can appear rational by saying things that sound rational, but are really little more than empty talk.)

The role of the parent, in my view, is to gradually build up appropriate and reasonable norms over the course of a childhood such that the nascent adult can function independently. At the earliest stages, these norms are not explained because the child cannot understand them (1 and under). Toddlerhood sees the beginnings of causal recognition, so the norms are enforced but explained. Over time the explanations get more substantive and wider-ranging such that the lessons taught fully reveal the logic behind the original norms. That's my theory at present. This is not the blog entry I promised and I can't say that I'd defend this formulation as precise, but it gives an indication of where I'm coming from.

So how would this look in the sleep routine issue? Infants go to bed without comment. Toddlers might get a "it's bedtime--we need to get to sleep so we can go to the zoo tomorrow." Children might be told "you need to sleep so your body can grow and stay healthy." Each age gets a wider look at the logic.

There are plenty of things I like about PD. I like its child-centrism. The phases I elaborated aren't arbitrary, they're governed by observation and evaluation. I think explanation and naming of feelings is often helpful. Assuming positive intent is generally a good way to defuse anger at an innocuous situation.

Jenn: you asked for specific examples that I thought were outrageous or too permissive. I'd really rather not. But you've said it repeatedly. Off the top of my head, I thought the "writing on the wall" and the "handling of the broken window" incidents were too permissive. But it's your family, your decisions. I'm not going to go into further detail. Sorry, it just feels sordid.

Diana Hsieh said...

Bill said, "As far as substantive PD criticism, I believe that letting your children do whatever they want with suggestive input from parents is too permissive."

I've not read anything on PD except Jenn's posts, but it's clear enough to me that's a totally inaccurate description of her methods. Notice that in Jenn's latest post on Ryan being dehydrated, she did not merely suggest to him that he drink some water. She gave him the choice of going into the house or stopping his play to drink. It was not an option for him to continue to run around without drinking any water.

I would imagine that bedtime would be handled in the same way: the child is given some limited choices about his bedtime. So if he prepares promptly, Mom or Dad read him a story or two. If not, he still has to go to bed, but he doesn't get the story, because Mom and Dad have other things to do with their evening and he needs his sleep. So the child's choice would be between bedtime with and without a story -- or something of the sort. (I'm sure Jenn could think of something better though!)

Whatever the choices, they wouldn't involve repeatedly allowing a five-year-old to stay up until 3 am so that he can learn that he's cranky the next day -- by the time he's eight. That's absurd. For a child to repeatedly stay up late would be seriously damaging to the child and the other family members. Moreover, that natural effect of his actions wouldn't be comprehensible to the child at that age. So the "just let them stay up and figure it out for themselves" method would violate PD on two major counts.

Kelly Elmore said...

I'm not sure the sleep issue is a good one because staying up late and not getting enough sleep are too different things. My daughter stays up very late almost every night. She sets her own bedtime, but she also sleeps late in the morning. She gets plenty of sleep. Because we are generally night people and don't do anything before noon most days, it works fine for us. If I had to be up and off to work early and she had to be at school, we would have to have a bedtime. But bedtimes are not intrinsically necessary, like water.

If we had to have a bedtime, I would not just enforce it, even with a little child. With a baby/toddler, I would nurse them to sleep or rock them at the appropriate time, thus making the routine pleasant. For an older child like mine, I would talk with them about the necessity of going to bed at a certain time and brainstorm ways to make that more pleasant. Even if my child does not have full use of her rationality all the time, my goal is to develop that burgeoning rationality through practice.

I'm glad you posted Bill.

Rational Jenn said...

Bill, thank you very much for taking the time to describe some of your concerns. It helps me understand where you (and probably other parents) are coming from and as I'm doing my very best to explain things clearly, has given me a few things to think over about how I can try to write more clearly.

Perhaps it would surprise you to learn that my kids do have a bedtime. We handle bedtime very similarly to what Diana correctly surmised--and the topic is worthy of a blog post of its own, so I'll write about it another time. Soon, I hope.

And I think I'll address your other examples at some point, too, because again, I don't think you are unique in your difference of opinion in how I handled those things. I can well imagine why you'd be reluctant to have pointed out such examples, but I'm very glad you did. Because those two incidents are exactly the kinds of things I would have been punished for as a child. And it will help me to think through and articulate the reasons why we did not punish Ryan for those transgressions--and maybe give you and others some more insight into our discipline method, for those who are interested.

Anyway, I have to go for now, but thanks again.

brendan said...

Diana, I had to comment because your bedtime example is *exactly* how we handle bedtime. Ryan and Morgan have choices, and those choices are totally up to them. But going to bed at 3am is certainly not among the choices they have.

Just thought it was interesting how you were able to ascertain our exact bedtime procedure using nothing more than inductive reasoning based on what you know to be our principles. Imagine that! :-)

Travis N said...

Bill, I can't believe you impose a bedtime on your kids. That is totally immoral! (I'm of course kidding...)

Our kids have pretty strict bedtimes, and they work almost exactly they way Diana suggested above. (I think I might have summarized our routine in an earlier post.) I'll add too that both kids have "montessori style floor beds" (which is a really cool thing, so parents of infants/toddlers should look into it if they've never heard of it) which allow them to get in and out of bed by themselves. Our younger guy is too little to take advantage of that freedom in any meaningful way, but it's great for the almost-three-year-old. (He's had the floor-bed since infancy.) We have a bedtime routine and subtly encourage him to go to sleep, but in principle he can get out of bed and play after we leave the room and close the door. He almost never does this at night time, but often wakes up 30-60 minutes before official "wake-up time" (which is, sigh, 6:30 AM) and plays happily by himself in his room before breakfast. He is also in the process of giving up his after-lunch nap, so instead of "nap time" he now has "quiet time" for one or two hours on days he's home -- this means he goes into his room at the appointed time, we do a little mini-bedtime-routine, and then he can choose to play or sleep or a little of both.

The point is that, even though in some sense we don't (and even *couldn't*) force him to stay in bed (and/or sleep), he gets plenty of sleep and is unusually in-control of his own sleep needs for an almost-three-year-old. I believe that's mostly due to the fact that we used the floor-bed and have given him lots of freedom and control over this area of his life. I'm not here trying to argue that this is the only or the best way -- just that, if you think giving the child a large element of freedom and choice in regard to bedtime/sleep/etc means that he will regularly stay up til 3 AM and be crabby the next day, you're just wrong. (It might mean that for a kid who was suddenly given such freedom after not having it, though!) Basically, I think there's a bit of false dichotomy and straw manning in some of your critiques. Nevertheless, it's great that you made them so now we can all clarify and move forward and hopefully learn something useful.

Diana Hsieh said...

I can't take so much credit, Brendan! After I wrote out my suggestion, I realized that I was vaguely recalling what Travis had said earlier. Still, I think it's obvious that PD is not just about allowing kids to do whatever they please, with parental suggestions. (That's the "taking children seriously" model, if I recall correctly.)

Funny, I think I've been thinking about these issues way too much for a person without kids. My dog Conrad chewed a strap off my Vibram Five Fingers barefoot "shoes" this morning. So I explained to him that now his playtime would be postponed so that I could do the necessary repairs, as I wanted to use them for sprints while we were frolicking. Of course, he didn't understand a word of that -- but I couldn't "no no no" him unless I caught him in the act. And it made me feel better. :-)

Actually, I should "no no no" the shoes. That technique can be helpful for dogs. Then the object is imbued with an intrinsic badness for the dog. That's not good for kids obviously, but it's good for dogs.

More seriously, I've had very good success with the "assume positive intent" principle in training the dog. I don't take his occasional fits of bad behavior personally. He's satisfying some need of his, and I need to show him a way to satisfy that need without driving me nuts, e.g. gnawing on the toy rather than on me. For the dog, that means that I show him what I want him to do, rather than just scold him for doing the wrong thing.

Travis N said...

Much as Diana has found helpful parallels between dealing with kids and dealing with dogs, I have benefited tremendously in applying various parenting strategies (mainly intended for toddlers) to the college students I teach.

(I intend that comment to be somewhat funny, but it is not at all a joke!)

Kevin McAllister said...

I'd have to agree with Travis. I've employed some of the strategies to great personal benefit at work. Although my non-toddler experience is not particularly relevant to this post ;-)

brendan said...

Bill, thanks for posting & offering some explanation. I'm sure that Jenn appreciates the opportunity to address some specific concerns.

I really don't think that Jenn intends any sort of negative tone when she uses terms like "old school". All too often, many parents feel that the way we raise our kids is an inherent criticism of the way they raise theirs. I am certain that when she says "old school", she is referring more to the thoughtless idea of "this is how I was raised, and I turned out okay" approach (that most parents use), than to your approach.

That said, we *have* made a value judgement about the way we do things. Her examples between "old school" and PD are meant to illustrate "this is the approach that others take, but here's a better way, because it does the same thing without using force, and it allows the child to excersise his growing rationality".

You're partly right that kids aren't rational. But I don't think that it's divided into "rational" and "not rational". Kids have a burgeoning rationality, and I believe it needs to be encouraged if it is ever to fully blossom. Using force is a way of invalidating their rationality, and can teach kids that being rational is not always the best answer. PD respects and encourages rationality in a way that no other parenting discipline (to my knowledge) does.

Bill Brown said...

"Whatever the choices, they wouldn't involve repeatedly allowing a five-year-old to stay up until 3 am so that he can learn that he's cranky the next day -- by the time he's eight. That's absurd."

You're right. It is absurd. It's also nothing I said. But then every subsequent commenter picked up the 3 AM meme and cuffed me about the ears with it. And I'm the one raising straw men!

To make it explicit, I said that the child will stay up too late. Given normal sleep patterns, a child cannot stay up until 3 AM. When I suggested that a child given the freedom to set his bedtime will stay up late, I was thinking more along the lines of 10 PM. If the family needs to be up at 7 AM to get ready for preschool or whatever, then the child will not have enough sleep.

Any kid, though, can and will stay up until 10 PM if you let them. There's so much fun stuff to do and they'll keep going until they cannot any longer. So our responsibility as parents is to see that that doesn't happen. If you want to nudge your child around the appropriate time and then brainstorm all the good things he'd do tomorrow if he just went to sleep or work on building routines surrounding the appropriate time, more power to you. That's not my style and I don't think my children suffer for being under my regime. I don't see any false dichotomies; I've tried plenty of things and this is what works for my family.

At any rate, I can't continue this discussion today.

Bill Brown said...

Brendan left his comment while I was leaving mine, so I'll respond and *then* I'm done.

I didn't say non-rational versus rational. I said that they were "proto-rational." That's the same as "burgeoning rationality." I nurture and cultivate my children's rationality at every opportunity, so we can just agree to disagree about whether PD is the best route. I can live with that.

Diana Hsieh said...

Bill -- I didn't intend to misrepresent your objection to PD. You didn't say more than "staying up too late," and I simply made that more concrete. Since my 3 am example was more than you had in mind, I'm happy to withdraw it. However, (1) I do know kids (albeit a few years older) who have stayed up until 5 am to finish a good book. And (2) an earlier time doesn't change anything about my objections to your criticisms.

The basic problem is that your criticisms of PD are founded on misunderstanding. The abstract principle is not what you said it was, and your concrete application to bedtime was also wrong. Perhaps you have other criticisms -- and perhaps those are wholly reasonable and apt. So far, however, you've only knocked down a strawman, as many have observed. I think fairness demands that you acknowledge that error -- and refrain from repeating it.

Bill Brown said...

Diana: I formally acknowledge that I have not prepared an unassailable criticism of PD replete with appropriate characterizations of PD and counter-examples from my own parenting life. I will not post or visit again until I have that.

Diana Hsieh said...

Bill -- Again, you're erecting strawmen. I asked only that your accurately characterize PD in your criticisms of it. If that's too much to ask of you -- meaning: if you're unwilling or unable to be fair in your criticisms of PD -- then I would certainly recommend that you refrain from further comment on it.