July 07, 2010,
L.B. asks from Columbus, OH on July 06, 2010
My Son Keeps Wetting His Pants
Help! My 7 year old son started wetting his pants about 6 months ago. It began right about the same time that we started potty training his younger sister. He would wet his pants at school and at home. At first, he would wet his pants once a day and it wouldn't happen everyday. But the problem has gotten worse - somedays now he will wet his pants 4 or more times. We have taken him to the doctor, but they didn't find anything physically wrong with him. I think that he is doing it on purpose, because he can control it. He did not have any accidents recently when we had relatives visit from out of town, but an hour after they left he wet his pants again. We have talked to him about it, but he says he doesn't know why he does it. We have tried punishing him for doing it, rewarding him for not doing it, but nothing seems to be working. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
P.M. answers from Portland on July 06, 2010
I think you might be able to help him reach his own solution if you try the process outlined in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk. If it's not already in your parenting library, I recommend it enthusiastically. This is a book you'll reach for often, because it works for all sorts of common behavioral situations.
Briefly, what the book would recommend is that you empathize with your son's predicament. Let him know that you understand that he's probably embarrassed and uncomfortable when he wets himself at school. Don't go overboard with sympathy, just acknowledge how he must feel, and ask for his correction if you get his feelings wrong.
Then ask what he can do himself to deal with it, or what you can do to support his efforts. Write everything he says down in a list – give all his ideas dignity. Don't discount anything; just write. Add your own ideas as you go. Between you, the list may become quite brilliant and original.
After you get a good list, go through it together and cross out ideas that probably won't work. He will probably have one or two ideas left that he'll be willing to try. These may have to do with practical things he can do at school, like using the boys' room between each class, or things he'd like to see happen at home, like more attention from you, or more appreciation for ______, or an adjustment in some other family dynamic.
The beauty of this approach is that it supports and respects the child, gives him a chance to problem-solve in a more adult way, and reduces the pressure on him to succeed your way. The result is often not only success with the outstanding problem, but a new level of maturity. And the underlying "reasons" don't have to be spelled out in detail, just help your son find a pathway to success that works.
My best to you all.
J.V. answers from Chicago on July 06, 2010
I only have really little kids, so I don't know if this would work with a 7 year old, but I'd just say to him, "you are responsible for your body, and if you want to go in your pants and then have to change, etc. so be it. It's your body, your responsibility. The mess you create by not going in the toilet is also your responsibility." I'd then show him how to use the washer and dryer and tell him he needs to do a full load so as to not waste water and energy. I'd then wait and see what he does.
A.G. answers from South Bend on July 07, 2010
I feel for you......I went through almost the same thing with my oldest. I started paying attention to when he would do it and noticed a kind of pattern. He really only did it when it was "convenient" for him.....not me or teachers, but him. Kind of like your son not doing it while relatives were there, but as soon as they left. I came to realize that he had full control, although he would not admit it to me or anyone else. Rewards didn't seem to work a bit. So, I started punishments........didn't work either. The last thing I tried was variety. lol. I would change his punishment/reward at whim. He never knew what it would be, so therefore, he could not decide whether it was worth it or not. The reward side still didn't seem to make a difference, but the punishment side did. Sometimes, I would just take away a toy, other times I would be more harsh like........take away 7 days of fun activities (even trips to Grandma's or slumber parties, etc). No matter what punishment I chose at that time, I did so with a straight (not angry) face and stuck to my guns. After a couple of doozies that he didn't see coming, he came to me one day and said, "Mom, I have decided to not pee my pants anymore." And he didn't!
Good luck and remember that it is just a stage, no matter how frustrated you get!
J.R. answers from Columbus on July 07, 2010
I would think a good doctor would suggest speaking with a counselor. Someone who deals with Child behavior. Did anything else happen around the time yo started training your other child? There could be many reasons for why this started. I would suggest speaking with someone. I agree with the person who said to see another doctor. I believe you should also. One thing that might work - does he spend the night with friends? If so tell him he can't anymore until this is fixed. And then tell him he needs to tell his friends why he cannot. If it is something he is doing conciously I'm thinking he may stop. Just a thought
H.H. answers from Hartford on July 06, 2010
I am not really sure, I am not a professional on this topic. my first response was to go to the dr. I am glad you did...I would personally go to a second one just to be sure. you say that he started this around the time you were potty training your other kid and I am sure she is getting a lot of attention around this, as she should. but maybe that is the issue, he just wants some attention too so there must be something that he likes and a way that you can give him so attention so that he stops this negative behavior. kids of most ages just want attention, they dont care if it is bad or good (I as an adult do not want bad attention but children are not there developmentally yet and will act out for attention even if it results in punishment) so I think that is what it might be. so find a way to create some positive attention for something he does: sticker chart/treats and all...whatever you are giving as rewards for the potty training one duplicate it so that the 7 yr old gets equal attention. hope this helps!
S.P. answers from Indianapolis on July 07, 2010
Here is my suggestion to put the "ball in his court"...train him to bring his wet pants and underpants into the bathroom, put warm water and a little dish soap into the sink there, and to swish the garments around in the soapy water for a couple of minutes....teach him to wring out each garment, drain the water, and then repeat with clear water for the rinse.
After he is finished he must hang the garments to dry there in the bathroom.
He must do this EVERY time he wets.
I will bet you that after a couple of times of this interrupting his play or whatever, he will decide to act his age and will dispense with the "accidents".