Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crappy Incentive Program

Many of you may recall a wonderfully crappy day I had a few weeks ago. Well, DJ's crappy days kept coming...and we were all getting a bit frustrated.

So, we started an incentive program. Both Anderson and DJ have become camera obsessed. When they saw a kid's digital camera at the toy store, well, we ALL knew a star chart incentive program would be perfect.

The rules were simple: no more accidents. Each day they did not have a potty accident they would get a star. Five stars equals a point, five points equals a brand new, only for you, digital camera.

The boys were psyched about getting a kid friendly camera of their own.

Mommy was psyched about less laundry and less frustration.

Anderson, our 3 year old was, well, he was stellar! Tomorrow he gets to pick out his very own camera.

DJ, well, not so good.

He kept having poop accidents.

I started to keep track of when, how and why he would soil his underwear. I tried to follow all the potty training and toilet learning books. Being as supportive as I could be...but soon I found myself getting frustrated.

At first we thought it was DJ rebelling since Anderson started to use the potty. Then we thought maybe it was to get attention. Then we thought it was normal 4 year old behaviour. Then we thought it was more than that. Given DJ's medical condition we slowly came to terms with the fact that perhaps his accidents were really accidents.

With DJ's condition, malrotation of the intestines is very common. When he was 10 days old he had the ladds procedure done to correct this issue and he also had a shunt put in to bypass a sizable section of his small intestines at the duodenum. I started to worry about another twist in his intestines or a blockage. I also remembered that the surgeon commented that scar tissue could develop and cause future problems.

Off to the doctor's office we go. She sent us for a series of x-rays to determine if DJ was constipated.

Long story short - yep - it is medical. We are waiting for the 3 stool samples to be analyzed (ya...that was fun! NOT!) so that we can determine if his bowel and intestines are working properly and/or if the daily penicillin is causing the constipation. What we know right now is that he has a fairly serious back-up and the little poop accidents were caused be involuntary releases.

Poor guy.

I could write a million posts about the guilt I feel in terms of DJ having this syndrome...and all the fears I have that he will require medical attention throughout his life. I could write a million posts on how lucky DJ is to not have major complications due to his isomerism and polysplenia. When you list all the abnormalities and defects his major organs have, you would not expect DJ to be as perfectly imperfect as he is.

What a crappy thing for a little guy to go through.

All I can think about are the times when I lost my cool and vocalized my frustration of him having repeat accidents. Crap. I was not always a good mom - I was embarrassed, frustrated and impatient with DJ at times - especially those times when he would have an accident just as the school bus was turning onto our street or when we were out in public and especially when moments after I asked him to try to go potty, he would have an accident. I feel bad that I accused him of not "listening to his body" and I feel doubly bad that I did not believe him when he said " I did listen but my body did not tell me in time". I feel like crap.

And now, on top of it all, Anderson has achieved his 5th point...he is entitled to a digital camera. DJ has not, he is still at least 11 days away...if he does not have any more accidents...or so the incentive chart rules say.

Do I allow DJ to just get a camera? What does that tell him? What does that tell Anderson? Should I stick to the rules and continue to count DJ's clean days for stars? He is now on medication to help, we have been warned, day three may bring lots of runny, icky accidents. How do I prepare him for that? How do I take that into consideration when awarding stars and points?

CRAP! Why did I ever introduce this crappy incentive program. What should I do?

As I am typing this DJ just came to chat. He told me how Anderson gets a camera tomorrow and that he does not have enough points, but he will soon. I almost burst out into tears.

The accidents were not (all) his fault...but the guilt I am feeling sure is my own fault. CRAP.


Janet said...

Poor little guy.

Is there something else he can do to earn the camera? I think I would modify his chart to take the focus off of his accidents, now that you know there is a medical basis. Maybe he could do some extra chores, water the garden, help set the table, stuff like that. Then he is still earning the camera, right?

Kathryn said...

Aww. That poor little man.
Maybe you could adjust the reward system for something else. Helping around the house? Cleaning his room? Helping his brother? Doing good deeds? And explain that you understand he can't always help his accidents and that you are going to try and help him fix it.
That way he still feels he is earning his camera, and his brother sees him earning it too.

A Buns Life said...

Poor guy and poor you!! I really don't think his chart should be associated with his potty and poopy stuff. If it is medical, and not totally under his control, you are not going to be able to distinguish when it is a real accident and him just not paying attention or rebelling. That is not fair to him. Surely there is another area that he could use some behavior modification? :) Or, start having him help out more around the house....empty small trash cans, dust buster, help unload dishwasher, etc. (these are all things that my kids do) and he is old enough to understand the change in goals for his chart. Good luck. But I am so proud of you for catching the real reason why the accidents were happening!!

Mrs. Schmitty said...

Children shouldn't have to go through things like stinks.

Pregnantly Plump said...

I'm so sorry. Poor little one. Poor you. I know that me saying, "Don't feel guilty," won't stop those feelings. But I think the incentive program sounded like a great idea. How could you have known? I agree that modifying the incentive program to something other than the potty might be a good idea. I hope day 3 isn't icky or bad for either of you!

Tara R. said...

Since there is a medical reason behind some of the accidents, maybe there could be a way to modify the chart. That's a tough call when you are trying to be consistent.

InTheFastLane said...

I agree that you could modify his chart, even though it isn't "fair." And yet, it would be fair, because you are taking their individual needs into account. It might take some explaining as to why their incentives are different, but I think that is OK. I think that kids can be taught the differences between individuals make what is fair and right different for each. He can still "earn" a camera, but in a different way.

Anabella said...

Poor baby! I agree with everyone else and you should modify his chart. Maybe do a different type of chart where he may earn his camera. Something that he tends not to do very well.

I would not blame yourself even though it is hard not too.

Send DJ a hug from Chloe & me.

ALF said...

Aww...poor guy. Don't blame yourself - it's not like you knew ahead of time. I agree with Janet - maybe there is something else he can do to earn the camera.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Oh, I wish I hadn't been so self absorbed when you were going through this. THIS is how I started blogging!! We were having problems with two boys (while hubby was deployed) and I was about to pull my hair out-- so I researched possible causes and learned all about what you're going through. I felt like the biggest jerk in the world for being angry at them. We still have problems, I just handle them much differently now. I vote he gets a new goal to work towards. Bless him! (and you're awesome for realizing there may be more to the problem, don't beat yourself up).