My son is 5 (6 in a month) and is having accidents at school. He pees his pants, and not just a little bit but a lot. He is embarrassed. I have talked to the teacher and we are trying to work together to help my son. He does not have accidents at home. When I confronted him about having accidents at school his answer has been always different. The latest answer is “I am afraid the urinals will overflow.” He does not seem to take this seriously. I have tried talking to him; the teacher has shown him the toilets will not overflow. Right now I am trying to reward him when he does not have an accident. I am extremely concerned and not really sure what to do. It is becoming a big problem.There are a couple of possibilities here
One is that he really is afraid of the urinals. He isn’t used to urinals at home, and if they flush themselves regularly they make a frightening noise that he can’t control. Even I get scared of self-flushing toilets, afraid they might flush and splash me if I’m using them.
If this is the case it would help if his older brother or his dad or a male teacher can go with him a couple of times, and demonstrate how to use the urinals. They can stand there and watch them flushing and see just how much water comes out and how high it gets, etc.
If this doesn’t work, let him know he can use a cubicle even if he only has to pee. No one will know what he is doing in there.
It’s possible that your son doesn’t know the real reason he is having the accidents, and is making up reasons. In that case nothing you will do about the urinals will help. The most common reason that kids this age have accidents is that they are concentrating on something else and don’t notice what’s happening with their bladder. School is new to your son, and the school activities may be taking so much of his attention that he just doesn’t tune in to his body signals.
The solution to this is training him to “notice his bladder” at regular intervals, say every 15 minutes, and see whether he needs to pee. If he can get in the habit of noticing he will be able to get to the toilet in time.
A reader had this to add:
I just read your advice which was written to a reader whose 6-year-old son was having trouble with wetting his pants. My son had terrible (daily) trouble with this, until I took him to a very wise pediatrician when he was 8. The pediatrician said to stop using bubble bath. As my son is uncircumcised, the bubble bath was causing a minor infection which would desensitize his penis. (I am not sure if this problem would occur in a circumcised child). This cause him to not be able to tell when he was starting to have an accident. We stopped using bubble bath, and in four years we have had almost no accidents.