diapers off

My 3 y.o son is starting to use the potty. The other night he had to poop so he took off his diaper, threw it in the barrel and went on the potty. He put the poop in the toilet and washed out his potty with soap and water. He marched down the stairs to us and told us what he did. I saw all the evidence that he was telling the truth. We were really proud that he had done that and told him so.

Since then we have had a hard time getting him to stay in bed/sleep even after a lot of afternoon exercise. We change his diaper just before bed. 3-4 times he took off his diaper and peed in the bed then came downstairs for a new diaper and a sheet change. We have told him to call for us and we will come and help him and that it's ok if he pees in his diaper at night while he's sleeping. Any words of wisdom?

Dr Maud Answers

It is fantastic to see your 3 year old showing his independence. He has learned that not to pee in his diaper is being a big boy.

The next lesson your toddler has to learn is that you don't pee in the bed on the sheet. If you need to pee at night, it's ok to pee in the diaper or to call mommy or daddy.

Your toddler is also at the age that children often like to get out of bed and investigate what's going on and they will use any excuse including going to the toilet.

Maybe your effort should be to encourage your toddler to stay in his room first. You could use a gate across the door or you could try using an alarm clock that has night and day faces. You teach your toddler that he can't come out of the room until the day face is showing. If he can pee on the sheet, there is no reason he couldn't pee in a potty at night if he doesn't want to pee in his diaper. Again, you can praise praise praise him for staying in his room until morning when everyone can get up.

The key to behavior change is positive reinforcement for everything except what you don't want. So if it isn't something you don't want, which can be ignored or dealt with by time-out, then praise it. "Good boy for calling mommy or daddy from your bed", "good boy for staying in your bed", etc.

For behaviors you don't want, ignore completely or use time out.

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