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A month ago I had started to try to potty train my dd. She has shown all the signs of readiness for more than a year - staying dry, telling me before she goes, using the potty sometimes, removes clothes on her own, etc. So I thought if I could just buckle her down she'd go ahead and finish getting the hang of what she's known how to do for a long time. About a week ago I got really serious about it. Being pregnant and grumpy, I went overboard. I got controlling and mean at times when she'd refuse to use the potty. She doesn't like to be forced to do anything, but in normal life will willingly do basically anything I ask her, gently. Some of the things I threatened were definitely outside of what I consider the bounds of GD, i.e. threatening to take away favorite toys if she peed on my bed again. I was ugly. It really stressed her out to be treated like that.

The observation that struck me though, was that she acted less intelligent during those days when she was emotionally stressed out. She's normally very inquisitive and obsessively learning new things. She started having a lot of tantrums and became very whiney. Dh and I both agreed looking back on it, that it seemed like she kind of 'dumbed herself down' during that time. It was kind of shocking.

Now that I've mended my ways and made up with her, all is back to normal and she's spending her whole days gleefully learning as much as she can get her hands on. I just wonder how many kids never get to develop their minds because of the stressful parenting practices that are out there?

Any thoughts?
 

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As a person who has recently been living like a PT Whore, I have to say I know what you mean. I don't make it a habit to demand a lot of things from my DD, or push her to do things repeatatively. But with PT, so many of the instructions include forcing your child to sit for 5-10-15 minutes on the pot, over and over again. We talked in another thread, so I know that you know that eventually I stopped doing anything other than showing her the videos, which she found entertaining. But I wanted to respond to your post here, because you mentioned your DD "Dumbed Down." Mine became clingy and more baby like. It's a different type of regression, but a regression non-the-less. And I'm not sure if it was because of the pressure or because of the change in the norm for how she was treated around the house. But whatever the reason, it did bring on a change in her behavior, until I backed off.

Faith
 

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I'm sure you're right -- from a research standpoint, I know there is evidence that increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol (over the long term) can interfere with memory and learning.

And from a personal standpoint, I've experienced this. I have had 2 bouts with panic/depression forms of PPD since having kids - and aside from the panic attacks and insomnia, the other major thing that bothered me was the fact that my mind 'slowed down' - I literally couldn't think.

After I retire, I'm going to look for some way to get involved in helping families in poverty. Whenver one of our kids gets sick and I see just how their learning just STOPS, I think of the effects it must have on children to be raised in a situation where they're often sick/without proper medical care, with parents who are stressed out and often uneducated about child developpment. That's one stressful atmosphere -- physicall stressful, emotionally stressful, socially stressful. How could a child reach their potential under those circumstances?

Sorry, rambling here, but kudos to you for recognizing this and backing off. You've inspired me NOT to push our 2 year old at all, even though she's got a lot of 'readiness signs' and can actually stay dry and pee in the potty, when she feels like it.
 
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