30 answers

4 1/2 Year Old Son Keeps Urinating on Carpet

I don't know why, but my 4 1/2 year old son keeps urinating on our carpet. He had done it before about 2 months ago and we had put a brand new carpet. He just currently started again. He pees in different spots. It's not like he doesn't know how to use the bathroom. I have put him on time out, taken away toys,and told him repeatedly not to pee on the carpet and to go the the bathroom. If anyone can help with some advice it would be GREATLY Apprecitaed!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you everyone for all of your helpful advice. I talked with his preschool teacher and she said he always uses the potty at school and has never urinated on the carpet and neither do other children. I asked my son and he said he doesn't know why he does it. But he gets embaressed when i tell other people about what he did. I did make him get down on the carpet and clean up his pee, sent him to his room for a while for him to think about what he did and time for me to calm down. He said he was sorry and that he wouldn't pee on the carpet again. We'll see how it goes. Thanks so much for everyone's advice!!

Featured Answers

I'm wondering what excuse does he give you for doing this. He's 4 1/2 so should have good communicative skill at this age.

Could it be because he gets a lot of attention from doing this. I know it's negative attention, but that is better than no or little attention.

If he was mine at that age and you can't solve the problem then i would take him to a good pediatrician.

Hi J.,

Sometimes kids pee in places they're not supposed to because they're mad about something. And, sometimes it's a great way for them to symbolize ways they see their family members or others treating each other. To find out if he's upset about something and not just doing it because it's fun you might try offering him the opportunity to pee in the backyard (assuming you have one). This is only a good idea if you are completely comfortable with him peeing in the back yard. If he happily chooses to pee in the backyard even after he sees that it's fine with you and all other family members when he does so then you can most likely cross anger or some unresolved relational issue off the list of possible causes.

Good luck!
K. F.

If you have a dog or cat, I agree that it might have something to do with watching what they do. When my son was a toddler, we had a new puppy. We would always praise the puppy when he would go potty outside. I guess my son wanted some extra attention because one day, he went oustide and went #2 in the grass! I wasn't as happy about it as he thought I'd be, but I went easy on him because I understood why he did it. He never did it again.

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Hi J.,
I am not at all a child psychologist or anything but I think that when there are problems peeing it usually means something is bothering him - maybe at school or something new is going on at home. I would ask your pediatrician and see what he suggests.
Hope that wasn't intrusive, but Ive had younger brothers and usually a pee problem wasn't really a pee problem but a psychological one.

If you have a dog or cat, I agree that it might have something to do with watching what they do. When my son was a toddler, we had a new puppy. We would always praise the puppy when he would go potty outside. I guess my son wanted some extra attention because one day, he went oustide and went #2 in the grass! I wasn't as happy about it as he thought I'd be, but I went easy on him because I understood why he did it. He never did it again.

please ask your son if there is anything he hasn't told you...maybe something bothering him. any changes in your lifestyle/routine...maybe talk to his teacher, if he attends school, to make sure he hasn't had any problems of inadequacy. I was a child care provider for 5 years and sometimes odd things could be emotional instead of just physical...i could be wrong but always best to check all areas of your child's environment. could be something very simple like not getting along with other kids or something that you may not expect...also, talk to your pediatrician about it. he could give you some advice based on passed experiences with other children, maybe he's not doing it on purpose. please don't punish your child until you know for sure that this is not an emotional or uncontrollable physical problem. if absolutely none then maybe he is needing more attention and this is the way he knows to get it. hope this helps.

Peeing on the carpet sounds like a good way to get your attention. Of course, it's negative attention, but kids will get it anyway they can. Try sitting down with your son and tell him you've come up a new plan for his peeing in the toilet. Together you can make a fun chart, where he get's a sticker reward every time he pees in the toilet. Since he's only 4, you can tell him "he has to put his pee in the toilet 4 times in a row." he can get a reward, something small. Your kid will have a list of things he'd like -- getting ice cream, spending 5 minutes with mom playing. This list can be written on his chart. you don't need to go buy him toys. Atl this age, they're pretty simple to please. The two of you can come up with the list together. you can make suggestions and so can he. Put the chart up, we're he can see it. i find the kitchen to be the best place, since we're always in it. When he begins his day remind him that he's working on a reward (let him pick from the list) and tell him that he needs to "put his pee in the toilet" 4 times in a row. If he CHOOSES to pee on the rug you will ask him to clean it up with you. Do not admonish him when he pees on the rug. Just ask him help by getting you a towel. When he pees in the toilet, make a big deal out of it. Make sure to tell him "Thanks for putting your pee in the toilet." Put a sticker on his chart and tell him "what a great effort." Remind him that he has to pee 4 times in a row so he can get his icecream, a jelly bean or 5 minutes of television, etc. If you're not there and he pees in the toilet, have whoever is home with him should praise him the same way. That person can even call you on the phone so you can tell your little man what a great effort and he must be proud of himself for "putting his pee in the toilet." Just know that he will test you by peeing on the carpet and if you don't reward him with negative consequences, he'll stop doing it. There is no payoff for peeing on the carpet. There's a big payoff for peeing in the toilet. I find that you need to remind your kid what the plan is throughout the day. if you act as a team, and that you're doing this together he will stop peeing on your rug. Don't be obsessed about reminding him! If you know he's eating lunch and having a drink, you can just remind him about the chart and say look how well your doing you have two more times of putting your pee in the toilet so we can get icecream, etc. If he doesn't pee 4 times in a row. Tell him what a great effort he's making and that you know he'll be able to put his pee in the toilet 4 times in a row. If you're child sees you have anxiety or that your mad at him when he makes mistake, he'll continue to do exactly what you don't want him to do. good luck!!!!

Hi J.,

That's really a tough situation. There seems to be some underlying issue here. I recommend family counseling. Maybe you can get to the root of what is wrong. Often when kids act out it's because of something going on in the family as a whole.


my 4/12 yr. old is doing this it is very fustrating we saw a clinical child psychologist and she said my son is having some control issues so she said not to punish him or shame him just say in a calm voice this is the choice you made and now you need to clean it up cleaning it up is the conquence for the behavior. Then she said to do a sticker chart and the kid decides where he/she would like to hang it you the parent come up with 3-4 rewards and he/she gets to choose 1, so 10 stickers=the reward if he/she has to pee in the potty and each time they go in the potty they can put a sticker on their chart all by themselves if they don't go in the potty they loose the reward and have to clean it up(and they have to clean it up all by themselves-not you) please make sure you talk your pediatrician or a child psychologist to deal with the problem the correct way otherwise things could be worse for you and your child hang-in there I am dealing with this right now and it is so fustruting and stessful but we have been doing the chart for 2days and so far so good. remember your child deserves the best so get advice from a professional

I went through this with my daughter. It wasn't wetting her pants - she would drop her pants and squat on the floor. She wanted clean clothes, but didn't want to go to the bathroom. This started at about age four, but continued until she was 9. It was awful.

By that time it had become an extreme battle of wills. She kept doing it just to prove to us and herself that she would do whatever she wanted, regardless of what we said or did. (And no matter how we cleaned the carpet, the smell never quite went away.)

With her, it was a combination of not wanting to interrupt what she was doing to go to the bathroom and just plain acting out. Having to stop what she was doing to go into the bathroom annoyed her. Plus, this particular child was always my boundary pusher, always trying to see what she could get away with and what we could and would do in response.

We tried dozens of things, and finally did what author/lecturer John Rosemond calls, "kicking the child out of the Garden of Eden." We emptied her room of everything except clothes and her furniture. All her toys, books and games were given away. We chose one weekend and told her that she would spend the entire weekend in her room, except for meals and bathroom visits. Since we had church and a family dinner at her aunt's house on Sunday, she actually only spent Saturday in her room. It was the longest Saturday any of us have ever spent, and we agonized over whether it was the right thing. It must have been, because after 5 years the behavior FINALLY stopped.

She's an adult now, and a bright, funny, talented woman, but your letter reminded me that it was a long road getting there! ;P


I'd make him clean it up. In my experience, when kids start doing something like this, they are doing it for attention. So I'd quit making a big deal about it but make him clean it up. Once the "fun" is removed, he should quit.

Oh, and invest in some "Natures Miracle." You can get it in places like Petco and Petsmart. It is made for pet stains but works just as well on kid stains.


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