Almost 5 Year Old Peeing in Pants Again.

Updated on March 18, 2011
L.C. asks from Longs, SC
19 answers

I am about to be in tears this is so frustrating. My son will be 5 in June and has been potty trained since he was 3. He has been in day care since he was a baby and now goes to the 4K program at school which he loves. He started mostly doing this at school. He is only peeing a little bit, enough that his teacher does not even notice. After he comes home I find his underwear damp and a tiny bit of pee on his pants. He wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and never wets the bed any more which makes me think that this could not possible by something medical or that he cannot control. We have talked him to death, to the point where he knows exaclty what we are going to say before we say it. He knows the lecture, it does not help at all he keeps doing it. We recently decided that we would take the tv away, if he pees in his pants he cannot watch the normal 30 minutes or so we usually let him watch before bed. This has not worked and he has a love for tv and movies. Today is the last straw for me, I am so frustrated wth him. We were at church this morning and he used the bathroom there, then lunch after where he also used the bathroom. We then went to the store where he used the bathroom as well. We get home and I discover he is wet while we are changing out of our church clothes. So we have the talk again and I tell him he cannot watch TV tonight. Then I decide to impliment an idea my girl friend gave me to give him a sticker for each day he can stay dry and when he gets 5 in a row we can go to Chic fil a or somewhere of his choice to eat and play on the playground. So I tell hm about this and he is very excited. We change underwear and he goes outside to play for probably about 15 minutes. When he comes back in to show me a stick he found I discover a wet spot on his pants and he has done it again!!! This time I wiped him with a baby wipe and put a pull on him. He is not alllowed to go outside and play for the rest of today and he also is not getting TV. I am so very frustrated right now. Please tell me that someone else has been through this. I hve threatened him with making wear a pull up to school even. This would break my heart and is defiantly not something that I want to do. Please help.

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So What Happened?

I really really appreciate all of the responses I recieved. Most of you said you would take him to the doctor and I may do that just to rule it out but as I said he makes it through the night with no issues and even wakes up to go so I am thinking that is not it. I do think that he does get busy and does not want to stop what he is doing to go to the bathroom. I of course have asked him about it over and over and all he says is I don't know. We do have conversations and not just lectures about it. This is a big deal to me because it is disrupting our lives, plus he has had accidents at school and what breaks my heart is that he may be picked on for it. I realize accidents are normal but this is an every day issue that is more than justs drops in the underwear but not always full blown accidents either. I think it is normal for boy to put it off as long as possible and after feeling like I am at the end of my rope yes I did decide to punish him by taking the tv away. Thanks again to those of you who offered supportive suggestions.

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answers from Atlanta on

My reply's a little late:) My daughter who's 7 still has trouble asking to use the restroom in school, and sometimes will cut it VERY close and miss for the potty... and she's 7 in gifted classes, almost skipped a grade... Doc's a good reaction, and he'll see how concerned you are when you ask for another "expert adult opinion" -- maybe he could talk with the Dr alone to see if anything else to discover. Perhaps just waiting too long, and perhaps you could ask the teacher to assist a bit, without his knowledge.

Good luck and good patience:)

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answers from Austin on

So you think he is doing this on purpose? Or do you think they are accidents? I do not understand why you would give him a punishment for having accidents.

Instead you may want to try to do the opposite, let him know he will be rewarded for going through each day at school without an accident. Make it something amazing.

Could be he is having so much fun he is not paying attention? I wonder if there is any way to figure out if maybe this is happening at a certain time of day like when they are at recess and he does not want to stop and go inside?

I agree with Amalthea, ask him when do these accidents happen. If he does not know today, ask him to think about it tomorrow at school. Also in the morning as you drop him off, whisper to him to try to remember what he is doing when these accidents happen.
I am sending you strength and patience.

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answers from Atlanta on

Never ever punish a child for urinating or defecating on themselves. You will cause emotional trauma for later years.If her is not responding to positive reinforcement, is happy at school, home life has been stable, he may have an infection or some other medical issue, Take him to the doctor It may be something he cannot control. J. Gordon

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answers from Boston on

I just wanted to lend another voice to the "take him to the doctor camp." My 4.5 year old daughter did the same thing, but went into a period where she was having full on accidents almost every day. I was at my wit's end (she was a nightmare to potty train in the first place). I brought her to the doctor 2 times to check for a UTI, and there was nothing. Finally I brought her to a urologist who thought that she probably had a bacterial count that was low enough to not count as a UTI but high enough that it was irritating her. She also was _constantly_ picking at her underware. Long story short, she now showers instead of bathes and has to sit very wide when she pees, and the accidents have stopped. I don't know if your son is circumsised, but if he's not, it could very well be the same thing. Good luck.

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answers from Honolulu on

I really do NOT think he is doing this on purpose.... and he is still young. Sure, he's been potty trained. But that has nothing to do with it.

My girl, is now 7 year old. When she was in Preschool and Kindergarten and 1st Grade... she and other kids had accidents. I"m not talking a little squirt of a leak on the underwear. I'm talking real pee accidents. The Teachers said, this is normal. Normal.

Next, there are many kids, adults included... that when they laugh or if they are horsing around or having fun... a little pee leaks out. Not because they did it on purpose. It just leaks out INVOLUNTARILY.

You said yourself, that the wetness on his underwear is only "damp"... but not enough where other people/the Teacher can tell. Right? So, its not a full-blown pee 'accident.' It is pee seepage or pee dribbling or leaking out, a bit. It is NOT like he is emptying his entire bladder and then creating a huge puddle of pee on the floor beneath him. Right?
SO, this is a BIG difference.... because he is NOT peeing a puddle on the ground... his is a "leaking" of a SMALL amount of pee, onto his underwear.

Next, MANY kids, do that. MY daughter included. And she is 7. Or, whenever her bladder is real full and she goes to the bathroom, a tad little pee may escape out. But it is NOT her doing it willfully... it is just a leak. A SMALL leak. Not anything to punish her about... because it is involuntary. INvoluntary. I know she is NOT doing it on purpose... and besides, why would a child continue to leak pee on purpose... if it only brought them punishment and nagging and lectures and scolding by the parent???? NO child would do that on purpose.

Your son's situation, to me... is not him doing it on purpose. Nor consciously. I think, that when he is awake and active (as most kids and boys are), and when he laughs or what not, a little pee just leaks out. NO biggie.

all the best,

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answers from Portland on

I think you are being a bit mean to him over a bodily function. Heck, I am almost 35 years old and I will spot my underpants a little if I sneeze really hard. Go to the doctor already. Oh, and the age maturation of the bladder/impulses is not 5 years old, it's generally between 7-11 years old. Sorry, but there is lots more in the world worth a heartbreak than supporting your son's bodily functions by allowing him to use a pull-up. Development is not always linear, it tends to ebb and flow:)

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answers from Provo on

I think sometimes we tend to talk too much at our children and not listen to them. Have you asked him why. It may be a simple thing that a little bit of encouragement can help him through. If he has to pee all the time, maybe he has some medical issue. It may be a sense of urgency that he can not control. Maybe he is having such a good time at school that he forgets. There could be a lot of "maybes" but you should speak to your doctor about this.

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answers from Atlanta on

Hi there,
I have read what you worte very carefully.I have two kids. Son is 6 years old and daughter is two and half years old. I can't see any serious problem in it. Your son is potty trained and he gets up at night to go to pee which shows his intentions, to keep him self dry. What i think that he might have a weak bladder or when he plays he does not pay attention on the pressure builds up on his bladder, mostly children often ignore it because they don't want to miss out anything they do,which is understandable, going to pee is not very exciting for them I guess, my son is the same way but he does not wet his cloths but he likes to hold on to his pee for the longest possible time or i just find out by his actions . I will suggest that observe your son closely and try to read his expressions and spend more time with him and after every 15 or 20 minutes take him to the toilet . I think you need to try relax your self first because its not a big problem which you can not solve. Be friendly with him and don't stop him watching tv or playing out side in that way his confidence will get shattered. You are forgetting some thing that he is only a 5 year old boy. He is still in a learning process. your scolding and hardness will make him stubborn and he will not pay attention on thing you will ask him to do. You can't achieve any thing by being strict, but your loving touch and friendly manner towards him can make a whole lot of difference.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Sometimes little boys will do that, just because they are so busy. I would not put him in a pull up personally for fear of hurting him, and possibly making him completely stop going in the potty.
My son just turned 5 last weekend and is also in a 4yr old K class and due to him being able to read he visits the K class for that each day, he began having accidents bc he was missing bathroom breaks for both classes and was too scared to tell anyone he needed to go. I spoke with him and e-mailed his teacher about it and he has not had anymore since. So maybe talk to his teacher and try not to get so upset about it, maybe he is just being stubborn(which my son would do). I do also think taking him to a dr might be a good idea or possibly having Daddy go over 'the rules' of going pee and make sure he is pushing it all out before pulling up his pants...

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answers from Detroit on

It sounds liek this is not that big of a deal and you are very upset about it.. his pants are a tiny bit wet.. his teacher doesnt know.. your son is not bothered by this.. there is no puddle on the floor.

Have him checked by the dr.. is there a medical reason.. does he have a bladder infection. If thre is no medical reason.. I would ignore it for a while and see if it doenst just go away.. he could be doing it for the attention that you are giving it..

I would not put pullups on a trained child.

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answers from Denver on

You might consider taking him to a doctor. It is possible he has a uti. It is also possible that he's dribbling because he hasn't gotten the last drops out at the end of using the toilet, so those are ending up in his underwear over the course of multiple trips to the bathroom.

What does he say when you ask him about it? Or are you just lecturing? I firmly believe in asking the kid first what's going on. Sometimes they can give you the answer or at least a clue.

In any case, I suspect it may not be in his control if all attempts to get him to work toward not doing it are getting no where and he's amassing punishments to no use. Generally kids want to please for the most part. If they get to the point that incentives and punishments are equally useless, you're probably missing the cause that is beyond his control.

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answers from Atlanta on

Get him a bracelet or something that will help remind him to go to the bathroom when he's busy at school. As the others said don't make him feel bad and have the doctor check him. This would be frustrating for any mom. Take a deep breath.



answers from Savannah on

When my daughter was that age, she would have an accident where I would have to pick her up from school. She was busy, too busy to stop what she was doing and listen to her body. Drove me crazy!!! She was potty trained since she was 3 and never wet the bed either. She would dribble from time to time when she would wait till the last minute and get her underwear damp. Now my son is 3, almost 4yrs old and he hasn't had an accident at PreK yet or at home but he does tend to wait till the last minute and will get his underwear wet. Also, don't forget boys don't wipe afterwards and they can dribble into their underwear as well sometimes.
I feel your frustrations because when I had to deal with my daughter and trying to understand why it was so hard for her to stop what she was doing to go pee. And to this day I still don't know why it was!! I agree with the other moms to take him to the DR and check for UTI and all. But you might want to easy up on him as well. He IS still a child and IS still learning about his body. Try to be understanding that he is having fun at school and wants to play but teach him that the fun will still be there after he goes pee. Threats of pull ups aren't going to do anything by bring him down mentally. Also, try talking to his teacher and see how they approach him. If he is doing the potty dance/grab are they asking him if he needs to go and when he says no letting him be or are they telling him to go when he shows signs of needing to go potty??? There are times I've got to tell my son to go when we are doing something or outside playing because he doesn't want to stop but I tell him to go potty, I don't ask him.

Good luck!



answers from Victoria on

oh how crazy it can get. I would have him checked for a bladder infection or other problem, since this just started back up, but otherwise here is what i did & do to transitionmy kids with out the power struggles & frustrations. He has to choose the behavior you want & you have to persuade him it is the best choice. Most times we loose site of the big picture as we get so caught up in the steps. It is different for every child cuz every child is different, but here is what I learned through the journey with my two. First, the training part is for parents not the kids. Kids only job is to poop & pee & they have plenty of practice at it. He will do it on the potty when he wants it as much as you. So, now your job is to find his currency, this will change as he does, but this basic principal can be used for more the potty training, transitions through your kids life. works pretty good with husbands too. :) 1. Simply take him in the bathroom & let him know that he isn't a baby anymore and that means no more diapers/pull ups. Let him know that cleaning pee & poop isn't fun and that from now on if he chooses to pee in his undies instead of the potty where big kids & grownups go, then he will have to help clean them. Here is where you make it uncomfortable and icky for him to go in his undies. When he pees in his undies, and he will, take him to the bathroom, take off the undies and turn on the tub. Have water temperature be slightly cooler than room temp. this in no way hurts him but is uncomfortable. Let him know warm water is for bathtime only. Now during the day when he asks for his currency thing (examples, tv, sweet drinks, certain toy (not nightime lovies) - (if he has a currerncy, then just use it at first & if problem continues then increase it to all things not essential to his health & well being), then answer him with a question, "have you kept your undies dry today?" he says no & you say, well you have your answer don't you? Let me tell you, my 2 year old got it loud and clear! daughter tested me 4 days and she made it happen and nothing will describe my joy when she called out for me to come & see. I walked in the room & she yelled, "I did it, I did it!" She was so proud of herself and next words were, "Can I have chocolate milk now?" I asked the all important ? "did you poop in the potty? and with big smiles I got a resounding "YES, I DID!!!!" No looking back. My son I think tested a day. His transition was very uneventful and smoother. For night time I had them go before bed at 8/8:30 then I & woke them at 10/11 when I went to bed. I got up again at 1am and got them to go again. they would make it till 6:30am at which time I got up for the day as did they. After about 2 months, they begged me not to wake them that they would do it themselves and we tested it at the 1:00 and they did it! then I slowly cut out the 10 waking and now both my 4 & 5 year get up & go without help or waking up anyone else & go back to bed on their own. Yes you loose a little sleep for a few months, but you do not have to deal with loads of laundry huge nasty pullups in trash and most importantly, you get your kids to want it as much as you did. They feel proud of the achievement as they should because they earned that currency. they get a big heaping dose of self confidence and it is all done without frustration, anger, resentment, control. TIPS for on the go..... go to a garage sale and buy a weeks worth of clothing (about $5.00) and put in a bag to keep in your car. Buy zip bags, 1 gallon size to store ick clothes till you get home, pack wipes, and buy and keep in car puppy pads. Use these for carseat. just lay puppy pad down in seat and it works great. You can afford these supplies cuz you won't be buying pull ups! :) hope this helps & best of luck.



answers from San Francisco on

I am going through the same thing with my 5 year old son i feel bad cause i feel like im yelling at him every day almost no one would even know he pee'd unless you check his underwear and its just because he is to busy playing he does not want to stop and go ive taken video games away for a whole week and he LOVES his games but will go one day and be so excited to tell me he is dry and then start all over the next day. Im starting to wonder am i making a big deal out of nothing and let it cure its self or do i keep fighting with him everyday and having these "talks" im frustrated to and have no idea what to about this i know its not medical its laziness!!



answers from Macon on

I am really concerned. Unless you have his urine tested, you can't be sure that he doesn't have a UTI (urinary tract infection); so, first things first... please rule this out!!! IF he is haveing a UTI for this long it can affect him in multiiple ways. So take care of this before he recieves any more scolding or shaming (punnishments). Once you have ruled this out, then realize that there are other medical problems that could cause him to have a decreased sensation to anticipate that he is about to urinate; he might not realize it until he gets the 'wet' feedback after he has let a little urine out. If this is 'out of his controll', you might be harming your relationship with him. So if the urine test comes back negative talk with your doctor to see if it could be something else. Your son needs at least 1 person in the world who will love him and offer a gentil responce with each accident. So try to see the situation from his point of view. He's only 5 and this is too much pressure. I would not give him punnishments. I would give him hugs and love and say; 'mommy doesn't understand why you are having pee in your pants, but I love you and I am going to try to help you with this'. Give him a nice supply of underpants and ask him to change his underpants whenever they are wet. If you step back from trying to controll when he goes to the bathroom, and sstop giving punnishments for accidents, and just let him manage his needs, maybe the situation will provide you with more information so that you can try to understand what is going on. Usually when the parent changes their strategy on how to deal with an issue, the problem get worse before it gets better. But try to be patient with him, and ride it out. You will reap a life time of rewards for handling this difficult issue in a mature and loving manner.



answers from Atlanta on

I have had the same problem and my boy's are fine now. If you think about it, it is a power and controle thing and your five year old feels your frustration and he is in controle. I am no doctor I have had a lot of counseling. You may want to bring it up to your pediatrician so you know it is nothing serious.



answers from Atlanta on

Well, I don't have any great advice but just wanted to let you know you're not alone. My 4 1/2 year old son has also been potty trained since he was 3 and he does the same thing. It has happened 4 or 5 times. Usually he stops when he realizes what is happening so he is not completely soaked. Then if I am there I have him finish going in the potty. I'm not sure why he does this. I don't punish him if he does in fact stop before completely wetting himself. I think he just doesn't want to go to the bathroom so he holds it until it's too late. It has happened a couple of times at night - in fact 2 nights ago. I'm hoping that he will just grow out of it. If your son is not completely wetting himself I think maybe you shouldn't punish him, but I DO understand your being at your wit's end about something. Been there! Maybe just tell him that he needs to get to the potty before it's too late. I like the sticker/reward idea. Try to be patient. As another mom on this site once wrote there are few people in college that accidentally wet themselves!! They will both grow out of it I think :)

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