Skip to content

Announcements

Get the support and information you need for your behavior, development and health related questions.

For more information:
Health and Parenting Health Center
Raising fit Kids

Accidents: A Part of Potty Training
avatar
Laura Jana, MD posted:
I'll be the first to admit it — having to clean up after a not-quite-potty-trained child is one of my least favorite parenting responsibilities, ranking below emptying a dirty diaper bin and right around the same level as cleaning up vomit. Potty accidents can add a degree (or two) of frustration when a child who has already seemingly mastered the skills necessary to put his/her pee and poop in the potty, goes on the living room floor. But regardless of whether your child is just learning, or has almost mastered this much-anticipated life skill, I strongly believe that there is definitely a right and a wrong way for adults to handle potty accidents.

First and foremost: Never belittle or demean a child. This applies to you and to all of your child's caregivers. It's entirely normal for children to have accidents — even when they seem like outright acts of defiance -- or you think your child should know better. Even if your child is testing your limits, this age-appropriate behavior should never be met with anger, but rather with age-appropriate consequences. For younger children, this may mean taking your toddler, along with his poopy pants, and showing him where his poop should have gone (in the toilet). It also means you should consider and address any underlying causes of the accident.

Here are several important and practical ways to address potty accidents:

? Make sure your expectations are realistic and match your child's abilities. If he isn't ready to potty train, accidents are sure to happen.
? Remember that accidents might be related to any change in your child's daily routine, life, or health status. Fear, anxiety, a new sibling, constipation, drinking a lot, or a urinary tract infection are all possible reasons that can cause children to have accidents. If you suspect any of these, be sure to talk to your child's doctor.
? Children predictably act out as they test their independence -- and, at the same time, your limits. There are few things children have control of at the age of two, three or even four, so the ability to control where they poop and/or pee ranks takes on added importance to a child. (Along with going to sleep or opening their mouths to brush their teeth or try new foods). In my opinion, success is much more likely if you convince young children that they really do want to play along. You're not likely to win a battle of the wills.
? When it comes to how you handle the actual mess itself, soak, scrub, and clean up accidents very matter-of-factly. You don't have to pretend to enjoy it, but there's no need for anger or disgust.

Remember that it's the thought that counts. Remember to acknowledge your child's efforts -- even if you find yourself scrubbing poop stains out of the carpet only minutes after your child has refused to sit on the potty, or after an unsuccessful attempt to run to the potty when nature called.

Potty training is a learning process that includes skills like learning to sit on the potty just a little bit longer, and getting up to go to the potty just a little bit sooner. Like any other new skill, it will involve some trial and error.

What are your potty training thoughts and experiences? Did your child take a long time to potty train? Did you make your way through potty training relatively accident-free? Share your advice on what worked for you to help your child achieve potty success -- and also on carpet cleaning!
Reply
 
avatar
ollie2004 responded:
My son is turing 4 in 2 weeks. I started potty training in January 2011 and he seemed like he was getting it. He was extremely against the idea prior to that. He is still wetting at night though. During the day however, he was doing well with few accidents. Even when we were out he would tell us he had to go. A few weeks ago he started peeing in his underpants. He has NEVER pooped in his underpants and always gets to the potty for that but lately he has been peeing in his pants almost every time he has to go. He is also resisting going to the potty when I remind him, especially if I know its been awhile since he has gone and then a few minutes later he is wet. I don't know if I should resort to pull ups during the day was well or continue to go through countless pairs of underpants. Nothing new is going on at home and I am a stay at home mom. No real changes in his life that I can identify. I am struggling on how to handle the situation because he is almost 4 years. I feel like putting him in pull ups is just giving him permission to pee his pants and keeping him in underpants is just frustrating for him and me. HELP
 
avatar
kmcarnag replied to ollie2004's response:
Just about the time we considered my son 100% daytime trained, he began having small "dribble" accidents often. I think it was becasue he was experimenting with how long he could hold it before he really did have to go. He was daytime trained for about 4-5 months before we went to no pull ups at night. Once we went to underwear at night, (almost a month ago) he's had 2 accidents overnight and has woke up once to go pee. I don't think there is anything wrong with pull ups at night and underwear during the day. We did that for about 10 months during training. Just be patient. He'll get it soon enough.
 
avatar
ollie2004 replied to kmcarnag's response:
Thanks for the reply. Was your son waking up dry when you went to underpants at night? Are you limiting his fluid intake before bed? By the way, how old is your son? I guess my frustration comes from the fact he is almost 4.


Helpful Tips

Predicting adult height !Expert
There are a couple of ways to predict adult height for toddlers. The simplest way is to double the child's height at age 2. Another ... More
Was this Helpful?
35 of 55 found this helpful

Expert Blog

Child Health 411 - Ari Brown, MD

Educated parents are empowered parents! Get clear answers to your parenting questions from Dr. Ari Brown...Read More

Related News

There was an error with this newsfeed

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.