Megan B. asked, "I have a question for your Inquisition Monday posts. How does your "my body, my choice" idea work during diaper changes? I love the idea and I've started saying similar things to Brayden, but sometimes he freaks during diaper changes and doesn't want me to wipe him. Have you dealt with that? What would you recommend? On the same note, are there any children's books you would recommend that reinforce the "my body, my choice" idea?"
Bodily autonomy is huge for me. I do give a couple of exceptions: health and safety. But I also think I'm pretty lenient even in that: hair combing isn't a big health of safety issue, so I don't push it on my kids (and when we do comb their hair, I try to be very gentle and use a detangler.)
But diaper changes do fall into health for me. Isaac has lived through a lot of painful diaper issues, from thrush as a newborn to food sensitivities when he started solids (and to this day). Isaac is mostly ok with diaper changes now, but when he wasn't, there were a few things that helped:
- Staying calm on my end. Getting visibly frustrated never helped at all. Lots of deep breaths.
- Talking. I would say, "Now, I need to wipe your butt so that it will stop hurting." The talking has to be calm, though.
- Stop diapering. As much as possible, I let Isaac go naked butt. No diaper to change meant no diaper changing issues. Of course, this means trying to keep your calm when you kid pees on the floor for the fifth time in 3 hours, so you still get to practice patience and calmness. The fresh air also helped air out the rashes and get rid of them. Less rash = less pain = less struggles when we did use a diaper.
- Wiping- make it as comfortable as possible. We use cloth wipes, so I wet them with warm water when I wipe him so there isn't a cold shock. We use plain terry cloth washcloths because they are so cheap, but if it's a major problem, it might be worth it to buy some nice soft cloths to make wipes from. You might even be able to find small pieces of minky (or other soft fabric) really cheap in a scrap bin at a fabric store.
- Distraction: book, toy, etc. Singing a song or making silly faces can help. If you know that the wiping won't take very long, you could say, "I'll wipe for only 5 seconds... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!" And keep that promise. You could even do a short song like "Row, row, row your boat." (Wipe, wipe, wipe you butt, so you're nice and clean?)
- Switching up wipers. McKay is a particularly calm influence in general and is able to help Margaret wash her hair without tears and Isaac doesn't fuss as much with him when he diapers him.
- It was always very important to me to never say, "Eww!" "Smelly!" etc., because I didn't want him to think I was disgusted by his body. I would mention, "Oh! You pooped!" so he would learn the difference between pooping and peeing, but I tried not to put a negative value on diapering.
I don't know if any of that helped- for Isaac it was a stage, and it now comes up only when he has a particularly bad rash. We are hoping that he'll become more potty independent soon so this will go away for good- although even if they can potty by themselves, they sometimes still need wiping help. I always ask Margaret before wiping her, "May I wipe your vulva?" Poor Isaac has heard me say that so many times he thinks he has a vulva, too, and will say, "Vulva!" when he potties. We correct him every time and he'll eventually "get it." It's kind of cute, though.
As far as books, we haven't really used many. There are picture books for teaching kids about sexual assault and molestation which often emphasize that the owner of the body gets to be the one who calls the shots for the body. We've just used a lot of repetition. They children have their bodies and I have my own as well. When I'm done with nursing, for example, I'll tell them I'm all done and if they persist, I tell them, "My body, my choice." Consistency and repetition. I think it's important to model it for them: I'll give them the words and demonstrate how to use them.
Readers: do you have favorite "choice" books? Any tips for diapering struggles?