Help with a 5 Year Old Having Toileting Accidents

Updated on September 28, 2009
K.P. asks from Delaware, OH
9 answers

I am at my wits end!

Our daughter has been potty trained for 2 years. In the last month or so, she started having wetting accidents. The wetting accidents increased over the last 2 weeks (but didn't seem to happen on the weekends-when we were doing special things for her birthday). She would try to hide them from us. At first, we thought she was just being lazy because she'd wiggle until someone told her to go to the bathroom. She also told us that she "just didn't feel like going" or she "thought she could get there." One night we even went back to setting the timer for every 20 minutes. She was going to the bathroom every 20 minutes and she STILL had an accident! She had no other symptoms of a UTI (she says it doesn't hurt to go potty, no fever, etc.), but I took her to the doctor on Friday. They did find evidence of an UTI and put her on antibiotics (Bactrim). They said we should notice a difference by tonight. We haven't noticed a difference in the wetting accidents yet, but I finally got her to not hide the accident for the first time last night. Now she's having poop accidents. There is a possibility of diahrrea with the antibiotic, but my husband, who helped her clean it up, said it was solid. He doesn't have a lot of patience anyway, and he totally lost it with her... so now I'm afraid we're going to go back to her hiding the accidents again which may have caused the UTI in the first place.

The doctor did mention that this could be related to the birth of her brother (he's 3 months old though).

I just don't know what to do or how we should handle this. I feel like a bad parent because I don't have any answers and don't know what to do. Please help! Thank you for reading this if you've gotten this far.

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answers from Canton on

No answers but I do have a thought. It is likely that with the new baby around who is getting more attention (babies require it) she may be regressing and looking for attention even ifbita negative attention. Try using positivereinforcment wen shedoes it correctly and have someone on one time with her too. Let dad feed or change the baby andspend some alone time with just her.
Good luck!

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answers from Indianapolis on

Potty training is such a chore!!! Good job getting her to the Doctor and getting the UTI treated. If she likes yogurt, let her have some - it'll help keep the diarrhea from being so bad.

The best thing we found that works with our 5 year old is the "potty first" rule. If she's coloring and decides she wants to watch a movie, "okay but potty first!" It doens't matter what activity she wants or if she wants a snack or drink - whatever it is, she can do it or have it as long as she goes "potty first!". That way, whatever it is she wants becomes the reward.

Then make a mental note of the time, and if in 15-20 minutes, if she hasn't gone, then "Hey, I need you to potty first before you do anything else!"

If it is a reaction to the new baby, then make sure you spend time with her, or find some way to give her positive attention too - she can help get the diaper or wipes for you, or can help prepare the bottle or get a burp rag - something, anything that you can include her and give her praise for helping out.

At night before she goes to bed, be sure to tell her 3 things she did that were good that day (even if she did wet her pants 5 times) - "Hey, that was a really big help when you got your brothers diaper! I really appreciated that. I really like it when you help. And you know how you went and got the pacifier for your brother, that was AWESOME! and you did a really good job eating your dinner too!"

Just some things that have helped us along the way....for what it's worth, and good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I wish I had an answer, but ...

Maybe her poop was solid but softer than usual? Maybe the beginning of diarrhea urges from the antibiotics? I'm hoping so anyway, so you have a reason.

As for the little brother (congratulations!), you said, "he's three months old though." BUT maybe it's just that now the novelty has worn off and that's why her behavior has started now?

Good luck. Sorry I don't have anything more useful.




answers from Columbus on

I feel your pain. You are not a bad parent, you just haven't dealt with this issue before. I feel awful with all the yelling, taking away privileges, etc that we did to my daughter. Turns out she had overactive bladder and constipation. And I think a systemic bacterial or yeast infection on top of that. We have been dealing with this for several years now. We had lots of hiding of the accidents (both kinds) until we stopped yelling at her. Now we only yell if she hides it.

Deb T gave a terrific explanation so I won't go over that again. You can ask your pediatrician for an xray, or you can just go to a pediatric urologist. (I recommend the specialist -- the pediatrician wasn't looking for constipation and missed it.) Plus, the prescription we got for overactive bladder from the pediatrician can result in nausea if the child also is constipated. Most peds won't know all the details.

I would NOT recommend a dose of 5-6 capfuls of Miralax unless you do not want to leave the bathroom all weekend. Each child has a different tolerance level. My daughter gets horrible diarrhea after 2 tsps/dose. She is extremely sensitive to it.

Is your daughter's stool very smelly -- or sometimes very smelly? That's when the stuff that's been stuck for a while comes out. You'll know you are having success if you must have the fan on. Also -- are her stools extra thick? Sometimes extra thick ones can also cause a problem -- you need something like Miralax to keep it moving.

My daughter is now on Oxybutinin (for overactive bladder). Miralax and Benefiber (for constipation which is made worse by the Oxybutnin). We have had great success with the combination. If she gets stomachaches, we are giving too much Benefiber. We have also figured out that she has a systemic yeast infection or bacterial infection that makes it hard for her to feel that she needs to go. (There are also other symptoms) A combination of probiotics and Olive Leaf Extract have been very successful.

Hopefully curing the UTI will solve your problem, even though it may not be quick. In fact, you may want to go ahead and get an appointment with a pediatric urologist just in case. It can take a while to get in to see them.

If you have any other questions, please contact me directly. Good luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

Take her to the doctor NOW and do NOT discipline her!!! It sounds like classic encopresis. I know, I know -- you've never heard of it even though 1 in 10 kids ages 4-12 have it at some time. With girls, it first shows up as leaking urine, with boys, it's mostly uncontrollable soiling (not "accidents" - they have no control!) due to the difference in anatomy. Get an x-ray and it'll probably show she's impacted (constipated) with a hard mass. It presses on the bladder (in girls, not as much in boys) and causes the urine to leak out. As her body makes new poop, it can ooze around the solid mass and leak out because once the body is impacted for awhile the colon stretches and the child will lose all control over it.

Most kids with it don't act/look constipated - that is they can poop several times a day. I was shocked the first time my son had an x-ray - he was severely impacted but we had no clue because of his solid poops several times a day! Don't be fooled, that's just the soft stuff around the hard mass. The only way to tell for sure is an x-ray. Usual fix is going on stool softeners (Miralax is a common one) after getting 'cleaned out' with a few doses of exlax. You can try cleaning out with Miralax but it takes 5-6 capfuls of the powder (it's dissolved in water/drinks) for 4-5 days in a row. We usually use exlax because it's quicker and done in a weekend.

Good luck and hopefully the doctor can rule it out for you... our son was first diagnosed with it 3 years ago and he's still struggling with it off and on. :-(



answers from Columbus on

Your Daughter has a UTI they do not disappear in just a couple of days.Give the medication time to work and talk to your daughter about the accidents, she is more than old enough to know when she has to go.Have you figured out why she got the UTI? Is she drinking enough water to flush her system of it? It could be her bladder instead, it could be small and not able to hold as much as it is suppose to.
It could be a jelousy thing about the new baby but I seriously doubt it as she was trying to hide it from you.Kids don't hide it when it was a accident unless they have been disaplined about it. Negative attention is not good. Maybe she just needs to know that you understand she is ill and when the accidents happen tell her to go clean herself up. My younger sister had problems for years and they came and went but many years later we found out she had a very small bladder and it had to be stretched periodically and that none of it was her fault.My Mom felt terrible for having disciplined her so many times thinking she was only wanting attention or was just being lazy. She is still having problems and is 48 years old. We also learned that she has a floating kidney and it was rubbing her bladder and causeing the UTI's.I would take your daughter to a Uriologist and have tests done to be sure there is nothing else causing her problems.



answers from Cleveland on

I knowat what your dealing daughter had her first bladder infection at 3 months and was put in the hospital for 4 days.
She was potty trained at a normal age. Then around 4 1/2 or 5 she started having accidents (pee and poop).
She kept getting two bladder infections a year.
They did an x-ray a while back and it showed she was very constipated (they too thought that was why she was having accidents and getting UTI's). They started her on Miralax and we also had to increase her fiber. She still continued having we had to go see a GI doctor. They did a procedure (a balloon in the rectum). It came back inconclusive because she still moved too much (she was a little sedated). The doctor didn't want to put her through that again right away. She sent us to a Peds. Psychologist. It has helped her a-lot. She's gone from 4 accidnts a day to maybe 2 a week. They taught her that everyone has a pause button...they asked her where hers was (mine is my belly button) my daughters is her forehead...everyone has to push their pause button and then go to the restroom. Even if they are busy playing.
The only time she really has an accident now is when she's outside playing with friends, she doesn't want to stop playing to come in.

Talk to your daughter about her pause button and show her where yours is (you can have a silly place) like your nose, etc... See if this helps. (her father and grandparents can show where their pause button is too).

Does your daughter like Cranberry Juice? They have several mixed flavors to try.
Try giving her a glass every day to help with the UTI's.

Good luck...hang in there!!!!



answers from Indianapolis on

If it continues seek medical advice again.



answers from Cleveland on

First off... your not a bad parent for not having all the answers, actually you wanting to help her and asking for help show how much you care for your little one.

My sisters boy had issues about a year ago... he was about 5 at the time & potty trained around 2 1/2. The doctors eventually ran test and found that his he really couldn't feel when he had to go. I believe they did some kind of theropy or treatment and now he is fine.

But it could be the birth of the baby also... did the accidents start around the time he was born? Maybe it is a "cry" for attention. I know a baby takes a lot of time & sometime older kids feel as if they aren't loved anymore... this doesn't make you a bad partent in anyway! I use to have story time when I nursed the youngest & would ask for help with little things so they were invaulve with the baby. Even if it "can you grab momma a diaper for the baby". Then give them prase for helping... makes them feel like really big kids, proud of helping, & also shows them attention when you are with the baby. Helping them to see you still love them and can pay attention to the baby & them at the same time.

Good luck & take care

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