December 09, 2009,
K.C. asks from Dayton, OH on December 07, 2009
Four Year Old Daughter Peeing on the Floor
My daughter is solidly potty trained and has been since she was 2.5 years old. Months will pass without incident and then suddenly she will go through several weeks of having accidents at home. Specifically, she pees on the floor in front of the toilet or on the floor in front of her bed. She literally shrieks with fury when I remind her to use the bathroom. She lies about using the potty and then has an accident. I do not know what to do anymore. We talk a lot about "listening" to her body, but she still ignores the urge in favor of whatever it is she's doing. I feel like this is a power struggle, but I'm not sure how to end it. I don't want her to be "that kid who smells like pee".
So What Happened?™
Sorry to take so long. The problem has resolved itself, again, but your responses gave me some ideas about what might be the root of the problem. I am going to pay attention to the constipation issue for sure. It makes a lot of sense. My daughter has always had constipation issues.
A.G. answers from South Bend on December 08, 2009
Just as a devil's advocate: I agree that you need to rule out any medical concerns first and keep your patience. But, here is my story if all else fails. My son was fully potty trained between 3 and 3 1/2. Then, a year later, he started peeing his pants. He did this until part way into his Kindergarten year. That is frustrating! We did the whole rewards thing again. Didn't change anything. Eventually, I noticed that it was only at home that he peed his pants and most of the time had something to do with being denied something, like candy, playdates, etc. (although not always). He was controlling when and where and around whom he would pee his pants. Hmmmm.....so, I started punishing him for the behavior. Took things away, cancelled playdates, took away dessert, etc. It would only work for so long, then he would revert to his old ways. It slowed down drastically when I told him his punishment would be random (that way he couldn't plot and plan his punishment based on what exciting things were happening or what he was playing with). But, the thing that stopped it for good (he is now in 3rd grade) was threatening to tell his teacher. You see, he came home from school one day saying that he almost pee'd his pants when he had to walk home from the bus stop, so I should come pick him up in the car (our driveway is 1/4 mile). I told him he should have gone to the bathroom before he left school and that wouldn't be an issue. The next day, he peed his pants on the way home. I then wrote a note to his teacher explaining what happened and asked if she would allow him to go to the bathroom before getting on the bus. He came home the next day with dry pants and asked me if it was okay if he didn't give the teacher the note as long as he stayed dry.
Unfortunately, he had to decide to do it on his own.......nothing I could do would stop him it was completely under his control. I just had to help him find a reason to want to.
E.W. answers from Cleveland on December 08, 2009
I just wonder if there is something else going on. Maybe some changes in her routine or the people around her. It is normal for kids to have accidents. I would try to avoid making the bathroom a negative experience for her. I like what the woman said about bathroom before doing something. I always have to remind my son who is 11. He gets so focused he doesn't realize he's hungry or needs to use the bathroom. Kids who are potty trained before they are ready also have more accidents or follow up issues. Just be patient with her. Yoou both will work it out. You also did not say how old your child is, could there be any medical issues? Power struggles are only a way a child communicates when they are "not comfortable" about something. This is not a situation where someone is trying to win, all she knows is that she feels uncomfortable and things are uncontrollable and she is trying to figure out how to make things better herself by controlling whatever situation she is in. You need to find the root of the trouble.
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J.C. answers from Fort Wayne on December 09, 2009
She is definitely old enough to know better....I would take an important toy away each time she does this. Tell her she can earn it back after a week with no accidents. Unless you find something that she really doesn't want to happen as a punishment, it's just easier to pee on yourself and have mom clean it up. Another option would be to have her clean it up herself. This would include taking off her clothes and putting them in the washer, wiping up the pee, and getting new clothes on. Of course she isn't going to do a good job, but you can always go in when she's done and not paying attention and clean it up properly. After a few times of cleaning up, she'd probably realize it takes less time to use the potty then it does to clean up her peeing on herself.
C.W. answers from Austin on December 07, 2009
my little cousin kenny lived with us and did the same thing for attention... we just put him back in diapers (or pull ups) and told him that only big boys who used the big boy potty were allowed to wear big boy underwear... whenever he would start peeing on the floor we would say something along the lines of "uh oh! time for the baby diapers again" eventually his pride won out his need for attention.
L.C. answers from Dayton on December 08, 2009
Something you might consider is constipation. My friend went through this with their daughter with she was about the same age as yours. They were so frustrated because they knew she knew what to do and how to do it. One time she peed in the floor right in front of them. They thought it was a power struggle or she was just not stopping what she needed to do to go in time and they tried everything they could think of. Finally they took her to the pediatrician and it turns out she was constipated. They had never considered it because she was having bowel movements every day. They problem was the size and firmness of her bm's. She wasn't ever completely voiding her bowel. What remained got harder and larger and she was impacted and it was putting pressure on her bladder causing her to either need to go urgently and instantly or to have accidents because she went unexpectedly. They had to put her on a stool softener and totally change her diet.
Before you do anything else, I would consider a trip to the pediatrician to rule out any physical problem like constipation or even UTI. My friend's daughter gets UTI's and doesn't feel any of the expected discomfort or get the fever. They just know she has one because she starts having accidents.
Hope this helps.
B.B. answers from Indianapolis on December 08, 2009
It is definitely a power struggle. Think like a kid for a minute: Is it fun to go potty? More fun than watching a movie or playing with your toys? What's fun about it? NOTHING. It's just something you have to do that nobody ever really "wants" to do - a "necessary evil" if you will.
We had to instill the "potty first" rule. About every 20 minutes or whenever our oldest wanted to change activities, "potty first". You can have a glass of juice, but "potty first". You can watch a movie instead of coloring, but "potty first". If it's been about 20 minutes, and she hasn't gone, "You can play with your toys, but potty first".
When she complains, remind her that if she were going potty "like she knows how to" then you wouldn't be doing this.
That's how we resolved our pottying issues.
For what it's worth, and good luck!