16 answers

3 Year Old Peeing Everywhere....

The Culprit: My Son, Cameron, is 3 1/2 and has been potty trained since 2 1/2 (day and night). Strong willed, but very sweet child- "generally" follows directions. Has no toys at this time due to not listening and acting out of line- is slowly earning them back with good behavior.
The Problem: Sunday I discovered that he went into my office and peed on my work shelves. I was in shock, and he acted like it was no big deal- even admitting to it without hesitation. The next day he did the same thing in the bathroom, peeing on the cabinet and all over the floor. Then this morning- he stood in his room and let it rip right on the floor. (I was not near him during any of these occurences- found them 30 seconds too late...) He is not doing this at school, only at home.
Our Solution: Each time he has done this, he has assisted the clean up. The first time he peed, we took away his precious "woofy" (security toy) and all privelidges, i.e. cartoons, movies, top bunk- everything now has to be earned back. We also implemented a chart that lists everything he has to accomplish in a day to earn his priveledges back. He was thrilled (still is) and loves the system...although he is still not using the toilet and I have no clue why. He does not offer up any information and is now lying about where the pee came from and is extremely apologetic and promises to not do it again. Last straw, as of this morning I told him he now has to wear diapers (act like a baby get treated like one)- I have nothing else to take away...I am at a loss.
If anyone has gone through this- or any advice for me, I need to know the root of this behavior so I can try to resolve it.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for the responses. It is not easy raising a strong willed child...karma I guess :). As for now, I have decided to keep him by my side at all times and nixed the diaper idea (we also gave woofy back, he proved to have a good day at school and filled in his chart). We started this last night- and I left him for literally 30 seconds and I caught him about to pee on his bed....so- tonight his dad is going to have a talk with him, show him how to go standing up at the toilet and also choose a place outside that would be okay too. I think that it is a good idea to give him options, and it is not fair that he sees his Dad going outside and he can't. Thanks again, and I will keep you all updated as things progress.

Featured Answers

At the moment, the only thing that comes to mind is whether he may have a bladder infection that is causing him to HAVE to pee everywhere - and just not understanding how to tell you things aren't right down there. Other than that, it could be that he has discovered how absolutely fascinating it is to be able to whip that puppy out and go anywhere in the world. MEN!!! seriously - I hope you find an answer quickly!! M.

More Answers

I know what you are going through is frustrating. I can see you are trying everything you can think of, but I have to say I agree with most of what Susan M. said. The punishments you are using are more for an older child, maybe 7 or 8 and up. Your son is trying to get attention! Your punishment is backfiring... he is getting all sorts of attention from you when he does this. Kids that are 3 1/2 love to clean... so having him help really isn't a punishment. When he does this again do what the other poster said... put a diaper on him and ignore him. He will not like this! Then when you see good behavior, tell him so and spend some one on one time with him. Using charts at this age is ok, but I would make it more for rewarding positive behavior than earning back his toys. As for taking away his security toy... that is just mean. He will only act out more if he is feeling insecure. Good luck.


Honestly, my first reponse to this post was laughter. I'm sure it isn't funny to you...but boys are crazy little creatures.

My gut reaction is taht maybe he wants more attention. Dogs pee to mark their teritory and for attention.... Maybe he is having trouble using his words to express something and this action is getting him attention...even though it isn't good attention.

I would not take away his woofy...if he is having any sort of issue that is causing this behavior, taking away a security toy, could make it worse.

I know this isn't the exact same thing...but when I was potty training, my Dr. told me not to punish.

If I were you... I would call my Dr. and ask for his advice. YOu should be able to do so over the phone.

Good luck.

Is he peeing in his pants or directing it to somewhere else besides the toilet? If he is not peeing in his pants, there is on need for diapers. Patience and consistency is the key. Any changes/adjustments in his life? You are doing everything right, and continue to do so. As ridiclious as this sounds, I suggest that you keep him on you all day everyday right next to ou wherever you go. IT is like you have to housebreak him. You cannot trust him right now, and you need to be on him like you were when potty training. Let him know that this won't be fun for him. When you work, he will sit next t oyou until you ar finished. It's not like you are going to give up doing your work and play with him instead. He will realize that once his life isn't fun anymore he will follow the rules. Good luck , and I wish you patience.

Hello H., The style of disapline that you are using is a good one for a teenager, but is backfiring on you with a pre-schooler. Attention and security are what he craves the most from you at this stage. Meeting his basic needs are important also, quality food, enough sleep, warm in cool weather, cool in warm weather, he cannot communicate these needs yet. Now for his acting out. Simply say, wow I thought you were a big boy now, but I was wrong, if you are peeing in your pants then you are still a baby, then put a diaper on him and ignor him. Simply treat him like he is a year younger. He will hate this, and feel embarresed. The more attention(yelling, lecturing, etc) he gets from the behavior, the more he will repeat it. Cleaning the mess up is one on one attention, a reward for the bad behavior. A chlds full time job is playing, that is how their minds grow and develop, so it is up there with the basic needs. A good scedual at this age is breakfast as soon as they wake up, followed by playtime. Lunch around noon, followed directly by nap time. Snack when they wake, then play time. Dinner, bath and bedtime. This age needs lots of sleep, and they will become hyper and cranky if not enough is given. Hope this helps. Good luck.

I understand your frustration. I am potty training a child right now. But I do have to say your method of punishing/dealing with this problem seems very harsh and antiproductive. Children NEED to play they need to be a child. Your child is going to start acting out in nasty nasty ways if you start treating him this way. It looks as though he may already be reacting to your methods. Another thing is you need to find the source of this "sudden" acting out. Then deal with the problem. What has changed in his/your life that is causing him stress? And I agree with another post you need to ask a professional opinion of how to deal with this situation. I think this may be a little more serious than you are putting on.

It sounds like you've handled it really really well!!! I don't know but it sounds like there is a big issue going on inside his head that he's trying to tell you about, in a round about way, acting out.

I'd seek some professional help here, and I would NOT go back to diapers! This happened to a friend of mine at about this age and he suffers from some sexual perversions which HE ties back to this instance - the false security of the diapers at a very vulnerable age. Also it is shaming, and shame can just make problems like this worse! I'd suggest finding someone who does play therapy with children, this would be perfect for his age!

This must be stressful, but you're doing the right thing, and I hope you can get to the bottom of the situation. Also I would recommend reading the 5 love languages for kids. Just in case you're missing out on one of his needs somehow. This book really helped me when my 18 month old started having behavioral problems completely out of the blue. Best wishes!!!!

A couple of random thoughts come to mind, reading your story. Just for background, this never happened to me.

In your telling, there is an obvious connection between having everything of 'his' removed and him starting to pee everywhere but the toilet. Since taking away everything seems to have started it, I'm not sure how it is logical to take things away to end it.

3yos are not capable of lying, because they don't understand that there is a difference between what is real and what is not. Their brains are not developed enough (and won't be until around 7) to know these are different. Just as a 5yo will think 'I killed my baby brother because I wanted him to not be alive,' a 3yo is incapable of discerning truth from preference, fantasy, imagination and pretend.

This is one reason for promising to do one thing and having no way of following through. But children are not legally able to sign binding contracts, and it is mostly because they do not understand the term 'binding' in any practical way.

Children are well aware of the fact that they are at the mercy of their parents, and have no way of entering into equitable negotiations with them, which drives them uncontrollably to 'say anything' to gain approval, cooperation or security. He gets that you're mad at him, and he can't cope with that reality emotionally, so he'll say or do anything (in the moment) to make that stop happening.

Children have a very keen sense of ownership, so your lad can't understand how something can simultaneously be 'his' and you be allowed to take it away. If it's yours, it's yours to control (take away, give back). If it's his, you've stolen it.

I would suggest reading Alfie Kohn's book, Unconditional Parenting, for an excellent explanation for why punishment and control simply do not work. It's not that they're bad or wrong tactics, it's that they are universally ineffective, and every single attempt to control another person, even if it appears to 'work' in front of your face in the moment, will have unintended consequences like those you are experiencing.

How about letting him pee outside? After all, there is probably some strange delight in peeing in strange places when you are a boy. I see why your bookshelves are right out, but perhaps if you could give him a few more choices, your strong willed little guy might find that he can have fun following the rules. Just a thought. Good luck.

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