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Punishing the Potty Accident - a Rant

First off, I know that no sane, loving parent sets out to be cruel towards their child(ren). Obviously, most people love their kids and want the best for them. Sometimes good intentions don't make for good practice, however; I think that desperation or convenience or something leads some parents to suspend that part of their brain that applies rational thought or empathy and love. Or maybe, because of herd mentality and the justification that "everyone else does it too," these parents absolve themselves of the guilt of doing things that are harsh and unnecessary. They forget that their kids are just little kids, not yet fully matured or developed, and completely at their mercy (or in this case, lack thereof).

My latest beef: potty training "consequences" that involve throwing a poor young child into the shower and hosing him/her down with cold water. Most developmental experts agree that potty training is the result of physiological and psychological maturity; there's a lot involved in figuring out when one's body is ready to void, being able to control one's muscles to "hold it in" until one reaches a potty, and actually being able to void in the proper place, not to mention the readiness to actually want to do these things. Most children are ready by age 3, but as with most milestones, there is actually a wider range of "normal" that is dependent on a host of factors beyond the child's own ability and readiness (e.g. situational factors, etc.).

I've recently discovered that there are a number of parents out there who use this brutal technique to punish/prevent future "accidents" or discourage their kids from playing with pee and poop. Apparently, this is an "effective" method and works in just a few tries. Frankly, I'm not surprised by the efficacy; even an animal knows that being sprayed down with cold water is something to be avoided. I have no doubt that this method works, but does that mean it's okay or humane?!

Why shouldn't a parent use cold showers to discipline a child who keeps crapping his Superman briefs? Well, in case it isn't already obvious - it's cruel. It's also excessive, it doesn't take into account the possible developmental/physiological/psychological/environmental reasons that the child is resisting the potty training, it creates a negative association for a completely natural human function, it shames the child, it is abusive, it lacks grace and mercy, it sets up a fear of accidents that causes greater anxiety going forward, it pits parent against child (or child against body, if they're having difficulties reading their own physiological cues or controlling their bowels), it doesn't follow the "golden rule" of doing unto others what you want them to do to you, it is physically painful for the child (particularly one who might have temperature or wetness sensitivities), it breaks trust between a parent and a child, it uses a bullying tactic that a child is helpless to defend against, it suggests that such an action is okay for a bigger person to do to a smaller one, and it is potentially illegal.

Those are my reasons. What's your thought on this? Do you use cold water hosing as one of your "disciplinary methods"? How would you feel if a teacher did this to your preschooler for pooping his pants at school? Would this kind of "discipline" be considered acceptable at home but not acceptable in any other setting, or is it utterly unacceptable anywhere?


Oh. Hell. No... In an attempt to not spew a vicious rant on your blog, I am going to leave it at, no effing way would I adapt that practice in my home.

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