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.

More Answers

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.

V.

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

J.,

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.

T.

Hi J.,

I would take him to his pediatrician for a checkup. It may be something medical.

Sincerely,
S.

This is a new one on me, but I'm a firm believer in rewarding positive behavior as much as possible. Make an incentive chart for each day your son doesn't pee on the carpet or anywhere other than the toilet. Then sit down and talk to him about it. I'm sure you've already had this talk, but explain again to him that it's inappopriate to pee anywhere other than the toilet, and you've made this chart, etc.,etc., and he'll get stars and prizes, etc. Play it up big and exciting! Put a star for each day he pees only in the toilet, and after 3 stars he gets a reward--like a bike ride for an ice-cream. But it has to be right away---not 2 days after the 3rd star!! Try to revolve it around special time with you or better yet, you and daddy. You might want to make a list of 3 star rewards and let him choose the one he wants. Things like "Go Fish" card game w/mommy and daddy, checkers w/daddy, bug hunt outside w/mom, whatever. You get the idea. Then have another level---say 7 stars (one full week)--that'd be a bigger incentive--maybe a picnic lunch at his favorite park, a trip to the beach, kite flying outside, etc. In the meantime, don't show any anger over peeing elsewhere, but CALMLY have him help you clean it up and put him in time out for 4 minutes. At the end of time out, hug and kiss and it's over. Make sure he gets less of your time and attention over peeing in the wrong spots than in the toilet. Get it? Some kids thrive on negative attention.

My cousins son did the same thing around that age. But she and the dad had just reconciled and moved back in together, so there were some emotional changes happening. She sat her son down and talked about why he was doing this and explained that it was unacceptable. They talked about being a family and appropriate actions, ways to get positive attention, etc. He's a smart boy and that seemed to work. He stopped peeing in the house after that and she's made more of an effort to be open with him about the new family dynamic...that took some adjustment. Good luck to you!

Dear J.,
Sounds like it could be secret anger issues he may be going through (could be any # of BIG things - a death in the family, a recent divorce, parents spending more time with work and chores, or a feeling that everything is more important others than he is, just to name a few). People who feel powerless often resort to behind the scenes tactics to get back. If he feels like he wants to be a 'good boy' in one way, but he may feel overcontrolled and helpless to change his situation, whatever that may be. He may literally be 'pissed off, and expressing his frustrations in a way he knows will make you upset. Any relationship with you (even an upset one) is better than no relationship at all . In any case you are right to pay attention to it. And try to have a heart to heart with him. I'm sure you'll get to the bottom of what's bothering him. If it's something little, you can find ways to help him there. When my kids were small I remember giving them choices, so they would feel like they had a choice. It might be something like, "Do you want to brush your teeth now, or after your shower?" - both things I wanted them to do anyway - but in giving them a choice as to when, they were empowered to feel less stomped on by outside forces. I know you'll think of some good ideas on your own, and then you can feel so empowered in YOUR life!
Best,
R.

My grandson is 4 1/2 and I have been involved in his life. I don't live with them but visit often. This last visit I was told he had been peeing in his pants even though he had been potty trained for about a year. I told him if he did it again, he couldn't watch TV. I made sure he understood and he knows I follow through. No more wet pants. I don't know if this will help in your situation, but follow through with consequences is most important.

I would put a diaper (not pull ups) on him until he shows control again. At his age, it sounds like manipulation and you need to show him who's in control without getting upset.
good luck

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.

I second talking to him and then, if that doesn't work, ignoring the behavior but asking him to clean it up.

But PLEASE do not follow Shirley's suggestion - it's emotionally abusive to pour "pee" on a child's head, and it only teaches him that that kind of behavior is OK.

Good luck!

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.

after consulting with your pediatrician (rule out anything medical) you are most likely dealing with behavioral issues. he is literally "peeing on you"-- essentially "marking" his territory (not so different from a pet almost) you may want to address any anger issues, anxiety, issues of control, childhood depression issues. have you spoken to his teacher to see if anything is going on at school? any changes that are occurring at home or anywhere else that he spends time? just some thoughts on what you might need to look into-- i think it goes deeper than just asking him to stop doing it- since you feel he is capable of using the bathroom--

Good morning J.,

Have you tried asking your son WHY? Has he seen someone else act this way? His Dad, classmate, cartoons, or movies? Coming from a farming family I know that men sometimes relieve themselves out of doors. (You know--use a bush or a tree.) If he has no explaination, the call the doctor and ask if this is just a bad phase or if he has deeper issues that need medical help. Good luck.

M.

Hey J.,

Is he seeking some sort of attention or trying to get your attention or maybe he just doesn't know the difference!! Try putting him on a training pot next time you put him in time out!! Good luck!!

V.

Obviously I can't tell from the limited amount of information that you gave, but that sounds like something that is either A)he sees someone else, maybe in a slightly more appropriate context, doing (like does dad or other male figure pee outside?) B) He is sleepwalking, or C) there is something much deeper and much more serious going on and this is his way of getting your attention. Look at anything that could be going on in his life that might do this, and good luck! Oh, and calm down a little on discipline- when he does it, make him clean it up, though!

I also have a 4 1/2 year old son who from time to time urinates on the carpet. I was wondering, do you have any pets? I have a cat who is trained to use the litter box but for some odd reason urinates on the corner of furnitures or on the floor. For a while we blamed our dog who sleeps outside but we let him be inside from time to time. My son started urinating and blamed the cat so it's like the cat was framing the dog and my son was framing the cat! My point is it's possible your son mimics a pet's behavior. You should ask him "Why" he urinates outside the bathroom? Listen to his reasons, children have wild imaginations!

My 3.5 year old son started doing it too at the end of my pregnancy when I was not 100% involved with him as I should have been. We were farming him out on his grandma all the time and he also started a new pre-school that was way too structered for him. We pulled him out of that program and now that the baby has been here for a while things have gotten back to normal. He has not urinated on the floor for months.
Try to talk to him but really he is sort of young to be able to express what he may be feeling. He may not even know. Try to think of what may be causing stress in his life. He probably won't do it forever, it will stop.

I would for sure not punish him. That did not work at all for us. It worked a lot better if we ignored it and did not even let him see us clean it up. The less attention for it the better.

Good Luck!

He may just be fascinated with the sound it makes as it puddles onto the carpet. Ewww, seriously though, little kids can be so fascinated with the world around them. I'm glad mine didn't do that. HE did like to pee in the garden though, it was a new kind of freedom for him. And why not? He was taught to do that while on a hiking trip by daddy.
Is he jealous of the new carpet getting all the attention?
Ok, that is a weird thought, sorry.
I do agree he may be feeling like being ornery because of not getting enough attention though. I would have probably tried a swat on the fanny at first. Like training a cat or dog, let them know this behavior is not favorable by showing what happens each time it's done. A little swat says to him, "Hey, that's not ok. And look what it gets you, a little pain in the butt. You don't want that do you?" Then he'll think twice before doing it again.

J.,

Your little boy may be upset about something but maybe doesn't know how to communicate. It sounds like something I would ask a professional about. I would watch him carefully to see if there are any signs of him feeling anxious about anything. Also, could he have been exposed to anything inappropriate?

Hi J.,

I have read many of the comments below from other people. I would agree that you need to assess your sons emotional needs. Has he had some stresses lately? What changes or new skills has he been learning? Is he concerned about changes that will be soon happening (kindergarten? or changing schools?) Does he witness these kinds of behaviors at other peoples homes? Might he be pretending, does he have a really active imagination (he might be playing dogs or something?) Is his IQ normal (you are sure he understands that it is not right?)

I chose to reply to this issue because I wanted you to see a light at the end of the tunnel. My son (now 22) did this a few times when he was between 3-4 years old too. He is extremely bright, so he could not use the excuse that he didnt understand it was wrong. For some reason, he peed in a friends closet (I never did understand or find out why). needless to say, he was not invited back anymore ---a logical consequence.
The other time he did it was when he was super super angry at his older sister. I dont remember why he was so mad. But he peed in her new pair of soccer shoes! I was not happy at all! So, he needed to pay restitution to his sister for ruining her shoes...he had to do chores to pay for a new pair of soccer cleats! Try to make your consequence a logical one. The weird thing was when sister went to put on her soccer shoes, she said, "Mom, my shoes are all wet." I wondered how that happened and when I figured it out, I was not a happy mom! I could tell it was pee cuz of how it smelled! It had sat in there for a few days! Anyway, the good part of this whole story is that right now, it is a yucky terrible thing to deal with, but he will still grow up and be a productive member of society who has parents who love him! Keep being patient and loving him, he will outgrow this too. But do try to make his consequences logical ones...if he pees, the least he could do is clean up his mess, then clean up a toilet or two. Maybe even tell him after he cleans up his pee mess, he will need to be responsible for cleaning a few toilets...Maybe every day for 3 days. (so what if your toilet is the cleanest toilet in the state!) I would buy some of those clorox wipes for him to wipe the outside of the toilet and seat and lid. (Be sure he uses gloves and remind him not to touch his face while cleaning.) Teach him how to scrub it with the toilet brush too. Make sure he understands that he needs to wash his hands carefully once he is done cleaning. I would bet that he will stop peeing on the floor so he will not need to clean up his own mess then the toilet too. Does that sound like a logical consequence. It really isnt a punishment, you are not beating him, swatting him, belittling him or anything bad. Just expecting him to clean up the thing that he should be using, right? Making him get up close and personal with the thing he should be using! If this makes sense to you, I would sit him down when things are calm and explain to him the consequence of what will happen if he pees on the carpet again. That way, all you or dad need to do is enforce the rule that has already been put in place.

Best of luck and keep being patient.
T.

apparently my brother used to do that. My parents said that they kept punishing the dog until one day they finally saw my brother. So maybe it's not too unusual.

This is a new one to me, never ever heard of a kid doing this inside, maybe out in the garden, I don't really believe in the good ole swat on the bare butt, but this one might need a little swat... he is old enough to know better, once is an accident twice is on purpose, he is peeing on the carpet, instead of going potty, you might have to go back to potty training, I swear kids these days, come up with the darnest things,

I wonder if you have an animal and he watched it pee on the carpet, or he is watching some sort of cartoon that did that, he learned it some place,

sorry about the swat advice, this is just plain odd !!
I know I am gonna get hate mail on this advice I left....

Is there an emotional problem going on in the home or some major changes in your son's life? Sometimes children can regress and need your help and support in working out their feelings. If there is a bigger problem in the household you may need to consider counseling. I have worked with other children, who have had behavior similar to your situation, and have been as a result of various scenarios; parental conflict, new sibling, frightened, broken family, etc... Try to find your son's point of view, he is probably reacting to a situation and not purposely trying to make life difficult for you. Good luck.

I saw this same exact problem on Super Nanny t.v. show once... sorry I don't remember how it was solved. The boy on the show even pee'd outside too. Maybe if the show has a website, they may have back issues to look at?
Good luck,
~Susan
www.cafepress.com/littlegoogoo

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