Do you have a bedwetter? I have a little four year old who has had trouble mastering the fineries of toilet training. Not a lot of trouble, but just enough that when I drop him off in a kids class, I am wondering whether he’ll be embarrassed that no other kids in there need spare shorts and underwear in their cubby.
He’s got a couple problems. One, he still thinks he’s a victim of his pee pee =) I’m not sure if he realizes that he controls his own muscles, but at least he talks like he’s not sure about that. “It just came out” he’ll say. So while he has good bladder control (he only needs to go to the bathroom about six times a day), he sometimes doesn’t make it to the bowl. He has a lot of those accidents where he’s standing in front of the toilet but the pee pee came before he could aim.
He still also wets the bed. Not a lot, but about once a week or a couple times a month. Sometimes he has just some “off” days where he has a couple accidents in a row and then he’ll go two weeks without one. Having helped a different child of mine through sensory processing disorder, I chalk this up to the brain’s differences each day. I never realized how much just one day can make things “on” or “off” for a preschooler. So I understand that to be normal for a still-developing child.
That said, it still is frustrating! Who likes cleaning carpets and sheets all the time? Who likes walking into their child’s room with that familiar but pungent smell of urine in the morning? Worse still, my four year old is embarrassed! He’s not so self-consciuos as a first grader would be, but he still HATES wetting himself. Or getting a little bit of stool in his pants.
So here’s some things we’ve adopted that have helped a little bit.
1) Make sure your carseat is water resistant and easy to take off. (We’ve been using the Graco booster)
2) Make sure the child’s mattress is waterproofed. The easiest thing to get is one of those $5 plastic mattress protectors at Walmart. The plastic is soft enough that the kids don’t mind sleeping over it, and then you can just use a Clorox wipe post-accident.
3) Keep the child out of socks. Nothing makes cleaning up accidents worse than urinated socks. Plus, it ends up making more places on your carpet you have to clean. (Some people make the same argument for shorts and swear by sweatpants for accident-prone kids.)
4) Keep a sticker chart for awhile. My little guy was having trouble recognizing if he was going through a problem season or having a good season. So we kept a chart so he could see if he was doing well or not.
5) Reward and punish as appropriate. I don’t believe in punishing accidents as a rule since a lot of training is biological and takes practice. But since the accidents mainly started a couple months after toilet training was successful, my husband and I now use some kind of positive and negative reinforcement at times. I give my guy a jelly bean if he wakes up dry or has some kind of small victory like clean underwear for the day, and I take away his special Lightning McQueen blanket if he has an accident overnight (mainly because it’s so puffy that I hate washing it!). You can use the excuse like “Lightning McQueen HATES getting wet. He wants to stay away until he knows his paint will stay dry.” He then has to wake up dry for 14 days in a row to get it back. If he goes 14 days without a daytime accident, I let him go to a special kids club on Wednesday nights that my older boys go to. (Mainly because the teachers there aren’t equipped to deal with toileting problems).
6) Probably doesn’t need to be said but, baths every day. A new toilet trainer or accident-prone child really ought to have a bath every day until they have a strong record of handling their own bums in private. Also teach washing hands after EVERY trip to the toilet. I used to make my boys only wash after a bowel movement (mainly because it seemed like they were always peeing), but I have learned with my third boy that their hands rest everywhere when they go to the toilet… like they hold onto the bowl to balance while they get their pants back on, or the sink. They might inspect their underwear to see if it’s dry but their might be a small stool mark in there from not wiping all the way, etc etc. Plus, it’s good practice for being in public when they should wash every time anyway.
Spend a good amount of time teaching good washing habits and you’ll have a lot less worry in your life. (NOTE: it’s perfectly normal for little kids to wash too long, use too much water, too much soap, etc. Don’t stress it until about a year later.) Make sure they can wash without your help or it will be too annoying.