How should I handle potty training accidents?

Real Mom Problem

“When my toddler has an accident because he didn't stop playing in time to get to the potty, should he be punished?”

by tobramerthanemo tobramerthanemo

Quick Tips

  • 1. It's normal for a toddler to continue having accidents up to 6 months after they're potty trained
  • 2. If accidents persist, you might consider that your toddler isn't ready to train and try coming back to it at a later time
  • 3. Wetting during the night is not considered an accident. It's common for children to be potty trained during the day while still wetting at night

Real Mom Solutions

Potty training can take a while, and setbacks are common. The way you deal with accidents depends on many factors including your child's age and personality. See what methods have worked for the moms of CafeMom before making the decision that's right for your toddler.

Never Punish for a Potty Accident

  • Luvmy2babies22

    When she has an accident stay cool and calm, reassure her that it's normal and okay and it can be cleaned up. And reinforce her running to the potty as soon as she feels something coming out. Don't ever get mad or shame her.

  • LovesFredric

    Be positive about accidents! They happen. Use them to encourage/remind your child to do better next time!

  • JillCA

    My husband made the mistake of getting upset at an accident and that totally set us back. We had a heart to heart and he changed his tune, which totally helped. So, make sure everyone has the same approach.

Use Age Appropriate Discipline

  • mypbandj

    My oldest was that way. It was just awful! I finally "gave up" so to speak and just let him be. No more prizes, no more bribes, no more anything. He was put in underwear and told (reminded) to use the toilet every so often. If he had an accident, he had to (by himself - but with my supervision) undress, put the dirty clothes in the hamper and take a bath to wash himself (especially after poop) but no playing in the tub, then get out, dry & dress. It wasn't a "punishment" and I wasn't mad at him. I had let it go. But it was a logical consequence. And I think that he finally decided that wetting/pooping himself was just too much work and using the toilet was a faster alternative.

  • PEEK05

    Put him in underwear and put him in charge of cleaning up the mess.

  • Mom2five77

    I would take away privileges; like TV time or the toy he was playing with when the accident happened. He can earn it back by being dry the rest of the day. Reward him when he does well with praise and hugs!

  • KayDziedzic

    When she has an accident and laughs or treats it like a game, make her wait in her yucky clothes in the tub while you clean up the mess. Have her stay in there while you rinse out and pre-treat her clothes. Clean her up last. She won't think it's funny for very long (I had to do this with my daughter who's 3 when she decided using the toilet was too much of a bother after months and months of having been potty trained.) And when she stops telling you, make her stop what she's doing at regular intervals to 'try' on the potty until she goes on her own again. Good luck!

Praise Might Be Better Than Punishment

  • MamaOfB

    I would NOT punish. He's still learning. Give him lots of praise, hugs, and rewards when he's doing well.

  • Mama_Mac

    Children are still learning. They have accidents, especially if the urge just comes all of a sudden. You could always bring praise back into the thing, whenever he goes on the potty he gets to put a sticker on his "good card" and when he doesn't he has to put one on the "naughty card"....that is what I do. I use a sticker system and my son understands!

  • sasprout98

    There wasn't really any punishment. We just get kept telling him that as soon as he started going in the potty, he'd get his big boy underwear. That's what worked for us. (He wanted the Spiderman underwear REALLY bad and I promised him those and soon as he was ready, I took him with me so he could pick out his own underwear. He was so excited!)

More Tips for Potty Accidents

  • bhwrn1

    If he had an accident, shorten the time between potty breaks. Don't ask if he needs to go, just take him and reward him for listening. Have him sit for 5-10 minutes. If nothing happens, try again in about 20 minutes. Get him a basket and put it next to the potty with small toys, books, bubbles. Things to keep him occupied. Or, better yet, if he has a stand alone potty, put it where he spends the most time. Give him a bigger reward if he actually gets something in the potty. Keep in mind accidents will happen. Don't punish for them, just explain and tell him you know he'll do better next time. I would not discipline. Makes it much harder in the long run. Kids must learn to control their bladder. It's a physical function and disciplining won't help that.

  • Feathers1974

    I think this is something that most kids go through and grow out of. My kids did it. Just got out of that stage with my now 4 year old daughter. I did not punish but let her know I was not happy to have to clean up the mess.

  • fallnangel3

    He's obviously not ready. Back off and let him decide when he's ready. Trust me, much easier way

  • Hisservent

    Never punish for an accident during the training process. Whenever my son had one, I took him to the bathroom and had him change himself. Then I told him, "next time, let's try to make it to the potty before you pee on yourself. Whenever you feel that little tingle, try to go to the potty." I didn't fuss at him at all. We also had a sticker chart that he loved. If he got had no accidents all day, he got a treat.

  • itsm3

    Just clean her up, don't make a big deal about it and then remind her that if she needs to go to the potty, to tell you. That's it.