Accidents Will Happen: Coping with the Perils of Leaving the House with a Not-Yet Potty-Trained Toddler

Filed under: Potty Training, Opinions

I once forced my daughter to have an accident. Yes, I insisted that she pee in her pants. She was around three and we were stuck in traffic on NYC's West Side Highway, along with everyone else desperate to escape the steamy concrete jungle on a Friday afternoon in July.

It actually turned into a shouting match, with Lucy, on the verge of tears, yelling "Mommy, I have to pee really badly!' and me growling: "Just go in your panties! Do you see a bathroom anywhere? Do you?!"

It was not one of my shining moments as a parent, and by the time we made it to a bathroom, Lucy was a soaking, sobbing mess. Fortunately, we had a suitcase full of dry clothes in the trunk.

OK, so it's possible that other moms don't actually encourage their kids to soil themselves -- though to be fair to me, what else could I have done in that situation? The fact is that every day, all over the world, toddlers are having accidents, authorized or not. It's just a part of the toilet-training process. While it's tempting to remain housebound during this phase, it's not realistic. Here's a round-up of tips from moms who've been in the potty-training trenches:
  • Insist that your child use the bathroom before you go out. She'll say she doesn't have to, but make her try anyway. There's no guarantee she won't announce that she has to go 10 minutes after you depart (or worse, forget to announce it and wet herself) but at least you'll know you did what you could.
  • Always carry extra underwear and at least one change of clothes. Seems pretty obvious, doesn't it?
  • Choose outfits that will cooperate when time is of the essence. Skip the overalls and go with easy-to-remove pants -- or dresses for girls. Dark-colored clothes will better camouflage wet spots than light ones.
  • Learn where the toilets are at places you frequent so when he's gotta go, he can -- and not in his pants.
  • Curb your child if you must. Personally, I've always been a little annoyed by parents who let their kids drop their pants anywhere. The idea is for them to learn to hold it until a toilet becomes available. But sometimes there's no other way -- in fact, both of my daughters have peed in parks and on the side of the road on more than one occasion; we even had a name for this -- the "grass pee." Just try to be discreet.
  • Consider keeping a small wastebasket lined with a plastic bag in the car for long trips. In a pinch, it can become a makeshift toilet; you simply toss the plastic bag.
  • Don't get angry or make your child feel ashamed if he has an accident; be calm and matter-of-fact about it, clean it up and move on.
**Check out more from Christina Frank on her blog, Living in Splitsville.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.