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Handling Accidents


Did you know that every time you make a mistake, new pathways are created in your brain from the experience? It’s true! Without making mistakes, we wouldn’t know what NOT to do the next time we try to master a new skill!


Thomas Edison once said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time.”


Potty training is a huge milestone for children to go through and it takes time to master this new skill. If your child never has an accident, they will never learn:

  • How long they can hold their bladder until they need to release it.

  • How long it takes to get to the nearest bathroom in time to go pee or poop.

  • How uncomfortable it feels to have pee or poop in their underwear and all over their body.


Making mistakes actually leads to enormous brain growth and development, especially for children! There are scientific studies that prove this theory. Of course, this doesn’t make accidents any less frustrating, but it can be encouraging to know that progress is being made, even if it is hard to tell at the moment!


Imagine that you’re hiking on a new trail with your family and there aren’t clear directions laid out. You will likely try several different routes before you find the one that leads you to your end goal which is getting back to the entrance where you started! Much like this, children have to experiment with their limits and with mastering what it takes to successfully accomplish this new skill.


It can be difficult to find anything constructive to say to your child when you are cleaning up the third mess of the day and it’s not even noon yet!


Here are a few helpful things you can say to your child after they have an accident:

  • “Oops, it looks like you’ve peed on the floor.”

  • “Remember, pee and poop ONLY go in the potty.”

  • “You can try again next time.”

  • “You’re still learning.”


Don’t get angry, but also don’t make it sound like it’s totally okay either, because this can open the door for your child to think it is okay to have accidents in the future.


Overall, it is very important that you don’t scold or shame your kiddo in any way because an accident is just that, an accident! However, it is also very important to keep your expectations very clear and to not (unintentionally) give them permission to have accidents by downplaying them with a comment like, “it’s okay”, or “accidents happen”.


It is important to set clear and easy-to-understand expectations but to also remain calm and use every accident as a teaching moment for our littles. They are learning and so are we! When children know what is expected of them, they won’t be confused or accidentally misunderstand your expectations which will allow them more opportunities for success.


So, next time you’re cleaning up a potty accident on the floor, take a deep breath and tell yourself that this is all part of the learning process and success is right about the corner! I know it can be overwhelming and disheartening sometimes, but this too shall pass and you all will experience many successes SO soon!


Don’t give up! You’ve got this!


Happy Pottying!


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