Accidents will happen

You might breathe easier once your child figures out how to use the toilet, but expect occasional accidents and near misses. Here's help preventing — and handling — wet pants:

  • Offer reminders. Accidents often happen when kids are absorbed in activities that — for the moment — are more interesting than using the toilet. To fight this phenomenon, suggest regular bathroom trips, such as first thing in the morning, after each meal and snack, and before getting in the car or going to bed. Point out telltale signs of holding it, such as holding the genital area.
  • Stay calm. Kids don't have accidents to irritate their parents. If your child has an accident, don't scold, discipline or shame your child. You might say, "You forgot this time. Next time you'll get to the bathroom sooner."
  • Be prepared. If your child has frequent accidents, absorbent underwear might be best. Keep a change of underwear and clothing handy, especially at school or in child care.

When to seek help

Occasional accidents are harmless, but they can lead to teasing, embarrassment and alienation from peers. If your potty-trained child reverts or loses ground — especially at age 4 or older — or you're concerned about your child's accidents, contact his or her doctor.

Sometimes wetting problems indicate an underlying physical condition, such as a urinary tract infection or an overactive bladder. Prompt treatment can help your child become accident-free.

Nov. 15, 2014 See more In-depth