Diaper-free, but what’s with the wet pants? How to stop recurring accidents
It’s always a happy time when your toddler finally starts using the potty and diapers are no longer part of your daily life. You’re thrilled that you don’t have to haul around overstuffed bags of diapers and wipes, and all that money you’re saving might even add up to having the extra cash for romantic date nights with your spouse. But sometimes when one challenge disappears, another pops up in its place.
So let’s say you’ve made the commitment to ditch the diapers for good and all seems well… except that for some reason that’s unfathomable to you, your child is consistently still wetting his pants. And the worst part is, he couldn’t care less. The sad truth is, some children just don’t mind having wet pants, won’t tell you when they’ve had an accident, and seem happy to walk around in wet, smelly pants all day! This seems to be the case in more boys than girls, but it can still happen with either.
In order to nip this problem in the bud, just follow some of the same basic rules from potty training:
- Gentle reminders: This is very important to ensuring success in potty training in general, and will help with the pants-wetting as well. As we all know, young children become very engaged in whatever they’re playing and it’s tough to pull them away. For some kids, that means they don’t want to stop making their play dough mountains or building their block tower (fun) to go to the potty (not fun), even if it means they have to do it with wet pants. Setting a timer can be helpful, partly because then the reminders aren’t coming from nagging Mom or Dad, but from an external source. It’s harder to argue with a little beeping machine, and kids can even find it fun. Just set the timer for one hour, in whatever room the child is playing in, and when it goes off, your child can evaluate whether she has to go or not.
- Make it inconvenient: If your toddler doesn’t want to take the 30 seconds to go pee in the potty, he certainly doesn’t want to take the five minutes to help clean up the mess if he doesn’t. If he wets his pants, gently remind him that he must now help out with the cleanup. He can remove his pants and underwear, bring them to the washing machine, and even help add the soap and turn it on. Then he can go to his room and choose clean clothes to put on. This will get very tiresome for him if he has to do it several times a day. Make sure you’re consistent and do it every single time he wets his pants.
- Reward for dryness: Create a sticker chart and let your child add a sticker for every time she goes pee in the potty, and also offer a reward for having an entire day with dry pants. It doesn’t have to be big, just a little treat that will make your child happy and feel proud of what she accomplished. If it’s really hard for your child to remember to go in the potty and there are many accidents a day, you can even offer a reward if she makes it to lunch with dry pants, and then offer another reward if she makes it to bedtime.
Sometimes your little one might not seem to respond to the reminders or rewards and you’ll have a day with many trips to the laundry room. But remember, like all parenting challenges, stick to the plan, be consistent and soon it will be over. And you’ll be on to the next one.