14 answers

Still Having Accidents! - Columbus,OH

My daughter is five years old. While she is perfectly capable of staying dry throughout the day we are still having issues with accidents. She knows when she needs to go, when I ask her why she didn't she usually says something like she was having too much fun to stop even though she could feel she needed to go. We've talked (endlessly!) about how she can use the bathroom then go back to having fun but with no results. Taking away toys, games, tv, etc seems to have no effect.
Any ideas?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

My son still has issues at 11. We have identified it as sensory issues. SOmetimes he can't tell he is full plus when he is focused on something fun it makes it even harder. I would not punish but use positive reinforement as much as possible otherwise you might create some control issues.

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I can say that I have very personal experience with this. As a kid I had accidents well past 5 years old. I had night accidents into high school. I finally asked my doctor during high school and she said it was most likely a hormone deficiency and gave me a nose spray and the night-wetting tapered off. Because of this I am extremely sympathetic to your daughter.

Even to this day (a 30 year old woman), I can't tell you WHY I had accidents for so long. For some reason, I didn't go and couldn't go on time. I was a high-achieving child who wanted to please. I followed the rules, etc etc. It was not a personality or distraction thing. It was simply that my body didn't tell me I needed to go until it was too late. I also remember one time in school where I had just asked to go to the bathroom and had gone, and then felt like I needed to go again. I knew my teacher wouldn't let me go so soon so I just tried to hold it. It ended with a puddle on the floor I tried to explain away...very embarrassing!

Unfortunately, most doctors are on the "wait it out" bandwagon even for bedwetting now, which I understand. But when I KNOW it was a hormone deficiency that I'm sure at least one of my kids also has at this point. He is better than me during day time (5 year old) but he still wears a pull-up every night and has had maybe 5 dry nights his entire life.

Unfortunately all of this story-telling is basically coming to this. Punishments, deterrents might not work. I know it's frustrating (I can't imagine how frustrated my parents were but they rarely showed it). It might be that her body doesn't tell her in enough time. If that's the case, I think it's a "wait and see" and try to be supportive and ensure that she's not getting a message that she's bad so that when she grows up she will remember how graciously you handled the entire situation. :) And if it still happening in school, consider sending her with extra pants. :D

2 moms found this helpful

Hello D.,

In a non-punishment based way, have her clean herself up. Explain to her it's her job to go potty, and since she knows how, it's her job to clean herself up, including washing the floor and her clothes.

I suggest don't force the issue about WHEN she cleans it up, because it will become a power stuggle, but frankly state, she can go and play as soon as her job is done. That we all must do our jobs before we can play, and let it be her choice when she does it, but don't let her play until she finishes her job.

Additionally, make sure this is something she can control, and it's just a lack of focusing. It wouldn't be right to punish for something she cannot control.

Good Luck-

R. Magby

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter still has the occasional accident too (at 6!). When she seems to have a lot of them, I do a reward chart for NOT having accidents. She gets a little gift for going a week without an accident. Usually that's all we need to do for a while anyway. She'll be accident free for about 6 months thereafter. Unfortunately, I think she has a hard time listening to her body. Sometimes, she has to be motivated to do it!


Set an alarm/timer for 90 minutes, 60 minutes or however long it is between times that she goes to the bathroom. This takes a little time, but is an AUDIO reminder that she needs to STOP whatever she is doing and go...even if she says she doesn't have to. If she refuses, whatever she is doing STOPS and she does not get to continue playing or watching the movie or whatever, Give her some responsibility. When she hears the timer, alarm clock or whatever, she knows this is what it means. It will get her into the habit of going on a somewhat regular basis.

Paus the movie, leave all toys, etc exactly as they were, etc. until she goes and returns. You need to remind her that in spite of having fun, she has to take the responsbility to do what needs to be done. We started talking about responsibility and priorities at 4 so that they can start making good choices.

Talk about good choices and bad choices and the consequences and/or benefits of each. Don't know if when you let her have the toys again after you've taken them away, but if you give them back.....even a week or so later, she realizes the consequences are short lived and she gets toys back anyway, etc. Once it's gone.....it goes to Goodwill, a charity, or whatever. If she wants to play and keep what she has, then she has to take the responsibility to go to the bathroom in order to keep it. Otherwise, it's gone for good. Giving it back after a certain amount of time won't work. It needs to be given away or EARNED back.

Okay, so when my daughter was in Kindergarten at that same age, the Teacher said this is normal still and happens. The kids have accidents. then by 1st grade or so... it starts to taper off.
My girl had a few accidents at that age too... she simply "thought" she could hold it... but then it was too late by the time she went to the toilet and made a puddle.
It is either an urge to go... or they think they can hold it... but by the time they realize they can't hold it, it is too late. So they don't have total control seemingly, yet.
And no, punishments don't work with this. It is also a maturity thing... psychologically and biologically. And those 2 don't work in unison often times.

If for night-time... Night-time dryness... can even take until 7+ years old. Normal.
And per our Pediatrician.

Here is a helpful link:

My daughter is 7... she still has an accident at night every blue moon.

Sorry, I didn't know if you meant accidents in terms of daytime or night-time.

All the best,

Take her to the doctor to rule out bladder/kidney infections and encopresis (with girls it mainly results in pee leakage/accidents).

Once you know it's not medically out of her control then do positive rewards. Use a sticker chart when she goes on her own, remove 2 for accidents and, very important, make her rinse out her own underwear. The reward can be free, like staying up an extra hour on Friday night. Start low like 15 stars and then as she gets it 1-2 weeks in a row move it up to 19 or 21 or whatever until she's dry all the time. This method usually works in 1-2 months.

My son is nearly 8 and it's the same with him. Punishment is pointless and perhaps damaging. Every doctor we went to on this same issue said "make him go to the toilet every two hours." The kid has no ability to judge whether or not it's needed, so don't focus on whether or not he/she needs to go, but rather, "it's time to go." My son has a checklist for when he comes home from school that indicates he has to go right when he gets home, again before dinner, again before bed, and his teacher also knows he needs opportunities at approx. every two hours through the day. Since we got serious about this he's been dry and also goes unprompted and without arguments.

If you figure this one out, you should write a book because we are in the same boat with our 5 yr. old. What's really driving us crazy is that she did much better when she was 4. Somehow this year she has regressed. Our doctor said that she is fine, but may have stretched her bladder out, so that she can't tell that she has to go until it's too late. She told us to make her go every 2 hours whether she feels like it or not, and that has helped - but not completely. Plus we forget sometimes, and so does her preschool. We are currently working on 'positive reinforcements' or bribes for overnight success. Taking away her PBS time seems to motivate her a little for daytime success, but not always. Good luck, and take comfort that you are not alone.

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