My 10 year old son has ADHD. He has some severe issues with focus and memory. We've tried various things to help him focus and remember but they all seem to arbitrarily stick or fail.

For now he constantly leaves the toilet seat up. With a mother, a 1-yr younger sister and a toddler in our house it's become a somewhat serious issue. I'm wondering what the healthiest, smartest, most sensical means of teaching him to either not raise the toilet seat or to at least return it to closed would be?

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    If you do figure it out, my wife says she would like know too. Although we only have girls. Wait... Commented May 4, 2014 at 7:19
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    Your son has ADHD; do you really need to make an issue out of such a trivial thing? Just keep encouraging him; love endures all things, right?
    – Jongosi
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 20:43
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    This isn't about making an issue out of trivial matters. With a toddler that could fall in and drown, an an 8 year old sister that falls in on a fairly regular basis soiling her clothes in the process, this is a health and safety concern in my household. Commented May 5, 2014 at 19:56

13 Answers 13


To agree with several of the above non-answers, and actually answer the question, as posted:

the healthiest, smartest, most sensical means of teaching him to either not raise the toilet seat or to at least return it to closed would be

...to be a good example.

For the several reasons already mentioned about gender roles, health, toddler safety, etc, just follow the simple rule that the toilet seat AND LID ALWAYS stays all the way down and closed. When you arrive, lift the amount of lid/seat that you need to, and when you are finished, close the entire lid/seat again. EVERYONE does it the same.

As far as your ADHD son, teaching a habit of putting things back where he found them in the first place will be a lifelong, useful skill. It will save him a lot of trouble by preventing lost items, school work, etc -- both his stuff and other people's, including yours.


Am I the only person who thinks that it's entirely trivial for the next person to use the toilet to correct the seat position for their needs?

I don't see why this is worth complaining about.

Just teach your kids to make sure the seat is where they need it to be so that they can do what they need to do, and leave it at that. The whole "men must be the only ones who move a toilet seat, women are incapable of doing this" thing is a subtle and often overlooked gender equality issue that we as a society should stop perpetuating.

  • Definitely agree with you - in my opinion there are two ideal positions: seat and lid down, or seat and lid up. Either is simple to change to the other position. The only important thing is for each user of the toilet to keep it clean.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 19:03
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    Asking a question is not complaining.
    – Cypher
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 17:27

As a person with ADD, I can tell you what helps with me. Post-it notes! Put a post-it note or a bright colored sheet on the wall reminding everyone (don't single him out) to "Please close the toilet seat when you have finished your business". Bright colors! I use neon yellow post-its to remind me of things I have to do consistently.


Be consistent. Rather than making the toilet a "special case", focus on teaching your child to close things he's opened when he's done with them. If you open the fridge, you close the door when you're done. When you open the door to go outside, you close it when you've gone through it. If you open a jar of pickles, you close the lid when you're done. If you open the valve that makes water come out of the faucet, you close it when you're done using water. And when you open the toilet, you close it when you're done - by putting the whole lid down, not just the seat. If the toilet is not in use, it's not open.

Teach the women in your house the same thing. ;) "Open, use, close." is a pattern that can be applied to pretty much everything, and consistency is key to retention. :)

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    I like this, it deals with the issue without creating a subtle inequality which shouldn't be overlooked Commented May 2, 2014 at 21:37
  • This is the best answer so far, IMO. There really isn't anything in the house that needs to be left open when not in used, except possibly interior doors (between rooms).
    – Brian S
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 22:45

There are seats that come down on their own, like a slow spring, it's down a few minutes later. I would not put this kind of emotional pressure on a 10 year old, even without ADHD. But for your son, I'd choose very carefully what to make an issue.

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    We have one that lowers on its own, slowly, but you still have to pull it slightly forward to start it closing. Are there other varieties that close without assistance? If so (and how can I put this delicately?)... do they go slowly enough to not drop in front of a guy unloading a particularly full bladder?
    – user420
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 19:19
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    @Beofett worst case, you can probably DIY a rod to the flush lever so when the toilet is flushed, it pushes the seat enough to get it started. This may even be enough to solve the issue even without the spring-loaded seat. So long as everyone flushes when they're done (!) issue solved.
    – Doc
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 20:37
  • What's so hard about asking the son if he put the seat down after he went to the bathroom? If the parent keeps asking enough, eventually it will sink in. I don't see how it's emotional pressure. Commented May 5, 2014 at 14:14
  • I ask as often as I notice it and whenever the 1-yr younger sibling complains about it because she's now soaking wet. The problem is he either blatantly lies about it or else he doesn't honestly remember (ADHD). I want something that will stick. I believe that informing him of the health risks (flushing sprays germs into the air) might be enough to clear up this issue. Commented May 6, 2014 at 13:31

I believe one of the original points about putting the "seat" down (actually the entire lid) is so that it doesn't spray stuff everywhere when you flush.

When you flush, polluted water vapour escapes and takes ages to settle - and there are probably things in any bathroom you don't want all those germs on.

Dr Charles Gerba PhD did a study on this which is often quoted.

In 1975, Gerba published a scientific article describing the phenomenon of bacterial and viral aerosols due to toilet flushing. When this aerosol of contaminated water is ejected into the air, it lands on everything in the bathroom, including your toothbrush. According to Gerba, this isn’t just another scare tactic to get men to put the top down.

During the study, gauze pads were placed around the experimental bathroom. Close-up photos of the germy ejecta, according to Gerba, looked like “Baghdad at night during an air attack.” The study showed that significant quantities of microbes floated around the bathroom for at least two hours after each flush. Gerba discovered that a lot of virus fell on those gauze pads.

With this in mind, I would encourage your son to put the lid down each time (and the rest of you for that matter). Maybe you could invest in a small reward scheme that your other children can take part in as well?

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    Note that the quoted text is not from the study but from a press release about it. Commented May 1, 2014 at 15:03
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    Note also: studies have shown that 1) the contaminants aren't particularly dangerous and 2) the contaminants spread even with the toilet seat down. Even putting the lid down isn't enough.
    – Doc
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 20:39
  • @Doc Cite sources.
    – Travis
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 14:40
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    @Travis First source I could find that mentions it (though it isn't a direct source of research) from the Straight Dope. Unfortunately, Dr. Gerba's original paper is (AFAIK) not available for free access, else I'd link direct passages from it. The highlights? Your kitchen is worse than your bathroom, as is your laundry room. WebMD verifies.
    – Doc
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 18:52
  • @Doc Interesting information. I'll need to look around some. That sounds like a fair number of assumptions and generalizations were, but it definitely is interesting. It still doesn't mean that the bacteria coming from the toilet isn't harmful - just that the stuff in your kitchen is worse. But it's new info - thanks.
    – Travis
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 21:38

I'm always amused in these discussions, where women take the view that men are "at fault" because we leave the seat up. Excuse me? I'm responsible for you not watching where you're putting your butt? I never even heard of this "issue" until my girlfriend gave an anguished squawk one morning and "accused" me of leaving the seat up. My response? "Yup. So?". This was never mentioned to me growing up. NEV-ER.

There are several options here:

  1. Chastise son about leaving toilet seat up ad infinitum.
  2. Teach son to always sit on toilet.
  3. Let son pee all over toilet seat.
  4. Look before you sit down.

Allow me to suggest that option (4) is the most reasonable. You really don't want him to do (3), you're unlikely to manage to teach (2), and (1) is totally pointless.

Honestly, there are some things you want to take responsibility for, and apparently having the toilet seat in the correct position before sitting down is one of them. Guys sit down too sometimes, and y'know what? We make golly-gosh-darned sure that the seat is down! It's not rocket science! You do not need an advanced degree or special training of any sort! You look at the toilet. You note the position of the seat. You change the position of the seat if it's not where you want it!

Look before you sit. Learn it, live it, love it.

Your mileage may vary.

Share and enjoy.


When my Son was about 5 yrs old and asked why put the lid down, I replied "to keep the snakes from getting out". "Really Dad?" "No Son, but it is fun to think of that way". Lid has been closed ever since.


While not speaking directly to this specific issue, I have found that this Reddit does a wonderful job of explaining ADHD to the non-sufferer. As an adult survivor of ADD, and having an ADHD child myself, I can say it resonates strongly with us and reflects our experiences quite well.

Patience and acceptance go a long way, and being willing to examine and change your own habits is essential. It's a relationship. Enjoy the many glorious qualities ADD brings to a personality and make allowances, where possible, for the foibles that come along too. :D



Beyond the "consideration for your family" angle, try taking a health approach.

In order for you to smell something, little particles of that something must be floating around in the air and drift into your nose, for you to detect it. That means if you can smell poop or pee, poop or pee is drifting through the air.

Now, a 10 year old boy is probably not going to respond to "it's better for your health" arguments, but he just might respond to "You don't want to dry your face in your pee, or brush your teeth with your poop, do you?"

Explain to him how smelling works, then give him the "do you want to rub poop on your teeth" talk. It's all about talking on their level.

  • So many mental images associated with this answer. Not the good kind either. Commented May 2, 2014 at 15:54
  • Which is exactly what I would hope to conjure in the child. :) Even if he doesn't care about his sister falling into the toilet (and probably thinks it's funny), brushing your teeth with feces is gross.
    – Travis
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 16:00
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    This could have consequences, similar to getting your child to stop opening the kitchen cupboards by telling then there are monsters inside. Short term effective, long term; therapy Commented May 2, 2014 at 16:59
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    I guess. The difference being that mine is based in fact, whereas the monsters story is an outright lie. It's maybe putting things in a more "gross" light than one would prefer, but I don't see this being the cause of a therapy issue. Those kinds of things are rarely about the monsters, and more about the betrayal of trust.
    – Travis
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 21:41
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    @Travis it's a lie wrapped in a truth. These things won't harm you (and may actually help you but research seems to flip flop on that point). There is everything on everything and we have evolved to live in that world. My consern with therapy is that if you instill an irrational need for absolute cleanliness and seeing invisible contamination everywhere you are setting someone up for a life of paranoia Commented May 3, 2014 at 21:36

Two step solution: 1) Everyone puts the seat and lid down 2) Everyone shuts the bathroom door

OR Get a lid lock for your toilet seat

OR Put a baby gate across your bathroom doorway


I'm not sure if this is age appropriate, but much of the advice I've received around teaching bathroom habits has been using prominently displayed picture schedules. You could easily adapt this to be focused on the behavior you want re-enforced (putting the seat down). These seem to help a lot of kids that have trouble focusing and memorizing multi-step processes.

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I wish my parents had taught me to pee sitting down whenever possible. Only in my early 20s did I realise that it was the best way to keep the toilets clean, and also more respectful of everyone I was living with.

Here is a short piece at Mamas on Call on the topic, and a funny comic at The Oatmeal, too.

Maybe there is still time for your son to be taught these facts?

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    This... sort of doesn't answer the question.
    – Waterseas
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 21:41
  • It does, but not directly. If everyone sits down, no one raises the seat so it never gets left up. It eliminates the problem altogether. And, in fact, is a wonderful way to keep the bathroom cleaner.
    – Jax
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 2:17
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    My downvote is from the fact that it doesn't provide a means of teaching. (Perhaps the link(s) do, but StackExchange answers should be valuable independent of any content contained behind links.) Your answer is basically a comment.
    – Joe
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 13:46
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    @SamHocevar I am not capable of downvoting, so no thanks for your spiteful response, however, I would if I could. Your question doesn't mention a single time how to teach the son to put the toilet seat done, only that you agree with the concept. It actually doesn't address the question directly at all.
    – Waterseas
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 14:14
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    I've never understood why people use a sit down toilet standing up. Under what other circumstance do people choose standing over sitting; on the bus? on a train? watching tv? eating dinner? Commented May 2, 2014 at 16:11

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