Toddler wants to stay a baby

Question: Hi! My 3.5 year old has no interest in growing up. She still wants diapers instead of underwear (won't potty train) uses pacifier, won't drink from cup even though she can, won't try to dress herself...the list goes on and on. If she gets upset she cries "baby Emma cwying" and wants her blanket and pacifier.

She is an only child and has mild apraxia of speech, and is classified as mildly autistic for special preschool which she attends every morning.

I have humored her no doubt longer than I should have because of her developmental delays.

What can I do to motivate her to grow up?

Answer: I would start with just one thing at a time to avoid overwhelming her. She may be resisting to too much change all at once.

Try getting her to drink from a cup first. If she is currently still drinking from a bottle or sippie cup, try gradually transitioning her. If she still drinks from a bottle, switch to a soft spout sippie cup, to a hard spout, straw and then a cup.

At each stage you will probably need to remove all bottles or sippie cups from sight. The more readily available they are, the more likely you will be to give in when she asks for it. You can tell her they were getting old and you had to get rid of them.

Give lots of reinforcement and praise for using a cup telling her how proud you are. If she is thirsty and has no other options, she will drink from it.

I would start with potty training next. If you haven't already reviewed my pages with
help regarding this, I highly recommend you do. The 3 day potty training program is great for resistant children.

She would probably really like the part with using a doll that she trains first. Prior to picking the big day for training where you get rid of all diapers and switch to big girl underwear, you may want to create a potty training social story about her going potty to read to her everyday for a couple weeks.

Each phase of helping her to gain independence will be hard, but I know you can do it. Just continue to give her lots of praise and tell her how proud you are of her and avoid any scolding.

You may consider using sticker charts to list each behavior required to get herself dressed and give a big reward after she independently dresses for three days in a row.

Another reward program that I used with my son to get him to independently dress himself and do other things around 4 years old (he always wanted us to help him too:) was that he would earn 3 tickets a day for doing 2-3 things in the morning, afternoon and night.

For example, in the morning he had to get dressed independently, take care of his breakfast dishes, and brush his teeth to get one ticket. Each ticket was worth 30 minutes of TV or computer time. He was only able to do these if he had a ticket. It was pretty motivational and now he does these things on his own without the ticket system (we gradually faded it).

Hope these ideas help!


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