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I have a 6-year-old grandson who pees on the toilet, around the toilet and down the front of the toilet every single time he uses the bathroom. My daughter insists he is too young to clean the toilet. I say hand him a rag and make him clean it. I believe it is laziness making him not try to get it in the water. What age should a boy be able to clean up after himself?

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    Or teach him to aim better? – user20343 Jan 2 at 22:50
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To put my personal experience here, and to directly answer the question: yes, a six year old can clean up his urine from the toilet and the floor. My children (7 and 5) both are expected to if they do anything out of the ordinary - that is, a little spot or two is to be expected from splashback, but if they miss the bowl or play around, they clean it up. It's no harder to clean up than the milk they spill pouring their own bowls of cereal in the morning, as they've been doing since they were 4 (and usually do unprompted). It can be challenging sometimes as the only time they really make messes like you describe are when they're out of control (overtired at bedtime, typically); so that doesn't always work out so well. But they certainly are capable of cleaning up when they're in control of their behavior, and I've more than once seen them do it without prompting (though sometimes an awful lot of toilet paper disappears...)

I will say that some kids around that age are very sensitive to bodily fluids. My 7 year old is, and so he's pretty nervous about cleaning urine. He does it, but he has to use a big rag or a lot of toilet paper to avoid it touching him. On the other hand, some kids don't care in the slightest, I'm pretty sure my 5 year old would paint pictures with his finger in the urine if he felt like it, and is happy to clean it up without any worry with a single square of TP.

As to how you should handle the situation, that's really up to you and your daughter to work out. To draw from my own experience again, I certainly don't mind if my mother in law tells my children to clean up after themselves, so long as she does it politely; and I certainly don't mind if she politely points out that my kids are making a mess.

I would mind if she put it the way you're putting it above, though. Obviously you're asking a question here and not talking to her in this question - so hopefully the discussion is handled in a more tactful manner. And if your daughter doesn't want to raise her child to be someone who cleans up after himself, such is her choice; or if she has a different reason that she is not sharing with you.

If the thing that is upsetting you is that the toilet is a mess, then just let her know that it's frustrating that the toilet's a mess, and she can handle it - either by cleaning it for you, or by having him sit down, or by having him clean it up; that's her choice, so long as it's clean.

If the thing that's upsetting you is you don't her parenting choices, though, then my suggestion is to empower and not criticize. Make small steps, find messes that he can clean up and praise him for cleaning them up, and perhaps he'll get there on his own; and similarly point out to her how good of a job he's doing at cleaning up his spilled milk or whatever. But don't make it about her parenting choices, because that's something you won't win.

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What age should a boy be able to clean up after himself?

This is certainly a matter of opinion. I think that at 6, he can't clean the toilet; he's much more likely to just spread the urine around into a thinner layer and get some on himself. Eventually it (and he) will smell and an adult will need to intervene.

I taught each of my children how to clean a bathroom (the whole thing, and very thoroughly) by the time they were 10. After a cleaning, I would inspect it, and what they missed, they had to do over. If it was more than a few lapses, they had to pretty much start over. However, I was the parent, and I had everyday authority over my children. I drove them to their friends' houses, I hosted sleepovers, I controlled their television and computer time, I took them to paintball, the pool, ultimate frisbee and other fun activities, I controlled what they ate, etc.. If they didn't do what I expected them to do, there were potential consequences for them.

What consequences can you issue to your grandson (if you believe 6 year olds are coordinated and conscientious enough to clean a toilet, which, as I said, I do not)? Can you withhold food, love, visits, or playing with him? Do you want to do that? Why isn't your daughter cleaning up after him? And if she is, why does it matter to you how it gets done?

I would suggest that all your discussions be with your daughter. You raised your children (hopefully) the way you wanted to raise them. This is a privilege that should be accorded to your children as well.

So what can you do? This is a "my house, my rules" kind of option.

You can ask that people using your bathroom go while sitting down. Or, you can ask that when he goes to the bathroom, one of his parents accompany him to supervise. If you go in after and there's urine everywhere, you can ask your daughter (or son-in-law, whatever) to please see to cleaning it up and point them to the cleaning supplies under the sink/wherever. If they aren't mortified about their son spreading urine everywhere (I certainly would be), why is that? That's a topic for some honest and difficult conversation.

Or, you can just accept that your daughter has flaws, that you had some small part in that matter, cut everyone (including yourself) some slack, and clean the bathroom after they leave. Fresh urine from a child is sterile. Maybe it helps to know that.

When my kids were little, we would often vacation with others in the family, sometimes almost everyone! One family in particular let their boy pee everywhere, and they would never clean it up. It was gross, but I never mentioned it to anyone but my then-husband. This boy is an adult now, and I have nothing - nothing - but praise for what a kind, thoughtful, giving, intelligent, hard-working and delightful person he is. I'm really glad I kept my opinions to myself!

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With my 3 kids I have good experience with letting them clean up their own mess. Of cause, it will not be really clean after a 6 year old kid cleaned something. But this is not the point.

Make him clean up and he will finally notice that he actually made it dirty. It is possible to go to the toilett and not making it dirty. This is the point he needs to learn I think.

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Is there an age when a child should be able to clean up after themself? This is something that clearly depends on the individual and both their physical and psychological development. A relatively "normal" girl, could reasonably be expected to be able to clean a bathroom around puberty. A relatively "normal" boy, probably won't be motivated to properly clean a bathroom until high school graduation. But then, there is no scientific backing for an answer to such a quesiton.

Cleaning up after oneself is certainly an important thing to learn as a child, but handing a 6yo boy a rag won't get the area as "clean and sanitary" as an adult would want. Unless, of course, you are planning on using the concept of cleaning the bathroom as a punishment for not knowing how to control himself. A better solution, and more appropriate, would be a game of 'hit the mark'. Obviously, once he masters this skill, there will be no more mess to clean up.

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    I really need to ask you how many boys and girls you've raised. Take away a PS3 and a boy will be more highly motivated to clean the BR than an adult. – anongoodnurse Jan 4 at 21:15

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