Sunday, February 20, 2005

Behold the Power of Chocolate

Rebecca loves chocolate. It was one of her first words (that and donut). She enjoys chocolate in all its forms. And I have discovered that it can be a powerful motivator.

For quite some time Rebecca has had issues with her bowels. Oh, she is perfectly fine and healthy. She just believes that girls, namely her, don’t poop. This philosophy resulted in misery for us all. She changed from a smiley, happy child to a tearful, screaming creature. She drinks plenty of water. Her dairy intake is not excessive. It is not her diet in general. She naturally loves vegetables; broccoli is one of her favorites.

There is a bar/restaurant that Meryl and I occasionally go to. Max always gets a grilled cheese sandwich and Rebecca gets a side of broccoli. The staff is very accommodating and spilt Max’s fries between his and Rebecca’s plates back in the kitchen. But for Rebecca it really is all about the broccoli. The first time we ordered it we were stunned when it came out. It was a huge stalk, bright green and perfectly steamed. Meryl and I thought, mistakenly, that Rebecca would eat some and Meryl would get the rest. No dice. Rebecca in the end ate most of it, only grudgingly allowing Meryl a few small bites.

But I digress.

When it is time for her to poop she tenses up and refuses to go. We tried various over the counter remedies to no avail. I even consulted with her pediatrician who prescribed a laxative. It helped some, but it was not a solution. The. Girl. Just. Would. Not. Go.

One day in desperation, as she stood there tense and crying, I blurted out “If you go poop I’ll give you some chocolate.”

This got her attention. The tears paused as she repeated the magic word “Chocolate?!”

Later in the day her attitude seemed to change. After more tears, a flushed and very smelly child walked up to me and said “Chocolate?”

After a quick change I granted her wish. For the next few days I would remind her in the morning and it worked. I got my smiley, happy little girl back.

I no longer remind her daily, but if she gets that look and refuses to let herself go I gently remind her of her reward. Yes, I feel conflicted. I am bribing my child to poop. But it is worth it. Sometimes she forgets to ask for her reward. At most she gets two Hershey's kisses a day.

The older boys are understanding. They remember the misery. So they, generally, do not hound me for candy. Max is a little harder. We worked out that if he goes in the potty then he can have a chocolate. This seems to satisfy him. He is not as obsessed with chocolate as his twin and is content in knowing he can earn a chocolate too.

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