In the morning, even though her diaper is usually fully saturated, she throws a fit if we try to change her immediately. And when we finally get her on the table, she shifts and wriggles in every which way, ensuring that the process is as difficult and as lengthy as possible.
As with every behavioral issue I have with my daughter, I contacted my sister (a school psychologist known on my personal blog as Dr.B), to give me some advice.
She said that most children have difficulty transitioning from one thing to the next. Mornings can be especially challenging because children are expected to make transitions much more quickly and we often don’t have the luxury of time to be patient with uncooperative behavior.
Children who resist diaper changing in the morning are most likely trying to tell us, “I’m tired,” “Stop rushing me,” or “I’m not ready yet,” while children who resist diaper changing throughout the day may become upset because it interrupts something fun they were doing or because they are trying to avoid a negative experience.
The following are Dr. B’s top six strategies for winning a diaper changing battle:
1) Give It Time: In the morning, the easiest solution is to wait 15 to 20 minutes before changing to give your child time to wake up, realize that she is wet, and prepare herself to be changed. Be ready with everything you need before you start, to make the process as efficient as possible. If resistance occurs at other times of the day, try to change her at natural activity breaks or give her advanced notice instead of abruptly interrupting play.
2) Change Locations: Some behaviors become associated with specific places and routines. Try moving the changing process to the bathroom to minimize distractions and attempt to break the negative cycle of uncooperative behavior.
3) Create a Distraction: Diaper changing is often easier when children are distracted by something positive such as a funny made-up diaper changing song, a countdown so they know when it will be over, or a special toy they can play with while you are changing.
4) Set a Positive and Fun Tone: Diaper changing can be viewed as a disgusting chore or as bonding time between you and your child. Children can usually sense when you are trying to rush through a task or enjoying it. If you pretend to enjoy diaper changing, your child may start to enjoy it as well. Use positive language, put on fun music, be animated, and use humor and make-believe (such as talking clothes or diaper peek-a-boo) to send the message that diaper changing is fun.
5) Encourage Participation: Try to get your child engaged in the process by helping pull wipes out of the container, picking between two items of clothing, and pulling her shirt over her head. By giving your child more control and assisting her toward increased independence, you will improve her interest and cooperation in the process.
6) Create Something to Look Forward to: It may be easier for your child to endure getting her diaper changed if she knows something good is coming afterward. Tell her you have a special surprise for her when you finish or you can use “first, then” or “when, then” statements. For example say, “first diaper, then play with (favorite toy)” or “When you finish changing, then you’ll have time to play.” It may take her a few days to understand this concept but stick it out and make sure you follow through.