How should child care providers handle toileting accidents in young children?

In general, toileting accidents in the child care setting should be handled casually. Children who have learned to use the toilet may feel embarrassed if they wet their pants. Shaming or scolding the child will only make him more uncomfortable. Here are some quick tips for handling toileting accidents in the child care setting:

  • Help the child change clothes. If the child is old enough to dress himself independently, have him take responsibility for changing his own clothes.
  • Seal the soiled clothes in a plastic bag, and send them home with parents to wash.
  • Remind the child that he is not wearing a diaper and needs to use the toilet. Encourage the child to tell you when he needs to go. Toilet learning is challenging for young children because it requires both the motor skills to control the bladder and bowels and the cognitive skills to understand and act on the urge to go.
  • Help the child avoid accidents by reminding him to use the toilet every few hours. Many young children just learning to use the toilet may not recognize the need to go until it’s too late.

If a child who was once using the toilet regularly begins having frequent accidents, talk with the parents to find out if something unusual is happening in the child’s life. Loss of bowel and bladder control is sometimes a sign of stress in young children. Work with the parents to find ways to help the child cope with the stress.

For more information on supporting toilet learning in the child care setting, check out the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles: