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The boy has been potty trained for more than 6 months and very seldom has had accidents in that time and never wets the bed, but in last couple weeks he's had several instances of getting to the bathroom, mounting the toilet successfully and then peeing all over the floor.

He treats these as accidents, but I'm a little skeptical. It has never happened so far when he is accompanied to the potty, and as a technical feet I'm unclear how it is possible. He sits to pee and there is a kid seat shaped to facilitate a reasonable posture.

So far I've gone along with the accident theory, sending him to get a towel and new pants as assistance with the clean up, but not taking any steps past chatting to establish facts and the appropriate reactions.

I'm uncertain of how to proceed. He seems happy and cooperative enough after the fact that I doubt it is planed malice and it isn't often enough that it is a serious problem, but I had him down as reliable.

My tentative plan is to watch him closer for signs and prompt and accompany him when I think he might need to go, but that seems like a lot of work and a reduction of a valued autonomy he generally uses correctly. I'm very reluctant to use video to monitor exactly what happens but that's the only other plan I have.

What might be done to minimize these events or to further investigate their cause?

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One of my boys did that too when he was the same age. I wouldn't worry if I were you. I think it wasn't really mischief but curiosity: what does it look like if I... It stopped very quickly. We told him it was very unpleasant if it really was an accident and that he had to put himself in our shoes, that we couldn't clean up the mess after him each time he went for a pee. It worked. Don't make it into an issue is my angle on this.

  • I hadn't considered this possibility. Perhaps we'll work on standing up, maybe in conjunction with cheerios or rubber duckies, to expand his ability to play while limiting his propensity for making a mess while doing so. – user26011 Dec 8 '17 at 20:52
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Pediatricians can be extremely helpful with this sort of thing -- I'd encourage you to ask him or her for guidance. S/he may want to test for a bladder infection, for instance, and may have some management suggestions for you.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has an article about regression at this age: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/toilet-training/Pages/Regression.aspx

Since it sounds like the accidents happen when your son is in the bathroom alone, and since I get the impression you may be tied up with a younger child, making it difficult for you to accompany him to the bathroom for each visit, an idea that occurs to me is that you ask him to use a portable potty. You could put one in the living room, one in the kitchen and one in the playroom -- whichever rooms you and your children spend the most time in. That way he will have the adult support he seems to need at this time, without humiliation.

Here's an idea: if you are part of a play group, you could work out an arrangement with the parent of a slightly younger child, who's getting ready for potty training, for your son to show his younger friend how one uses the potty or the toilet. In other words, give him an opportunity to show off and help someone else learn a skill -- appeal to his pride. This intervention would hook into his self esteem.

Related to this but slightly different: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/toilet-training/Pages/The-Benefits-of-Peer-Pressure-During-Toilet-Training.aspx

In terms of the puddles and the clean-up -- I think it's best when parent and child do the clean-up together, very calmly and matter-of-fact.

It might help to increase the amount of time your son has for water play (sink, bathtub, swimming pool, pouring activities in the kitchen, washing plastic dishes at the kitchen sink, etc.).

There's a fantastic book by Barbro Lindgren and Eva Eriksson, who made the Sam series. I can't find it in English. In German it's called Max und die Windel, in the original Swedish, it's called Svempa vill ha många nappar. It would be a great one to read together. Max gets into mischief, peeing on the floor, and putting the diaper on the dog. We see the boy mopping. It's silly and fun. I think it would help if you could get a copy.

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