It’s not uncommon for children who are potty trained and reliably clean and dry at home to start having accidents when they start nursery or school. We look at the reasons why and how to help your child get back on track.

New routine

There’s a whole new routine to get used to - your child will be meeting new people and adjusting to a different environment and schedule. Whilst exciting, this can also be very tiring for them. Accidents are more likely to happen when they get tired and forget to listen out for their body’s signals and respond in time. This should settle down as they get used to nursery life.

Accidents are more likely to happen when they get tired.

Managing on their own

Without you there to remind them to do a wee or poo and be able to react quickly if they show signs of getting desperate, your child is learning how to manage their wee and poo independently for the first time. Check with staff what the toilet routine and policy is - are they letting the children have free access to the toilet at all times? Some children get so engrossed in what they’re doing that they find it hard to break off and get to the toilet in time. Let them know they need to go when they first feel their wee or poo coming as holding on to it is likely to result in an accident.

Some children get so engrossed in what they’re doing that they find it hard to break off and get to the toilet in time.

Regular drinks

Girl drinking from bottleWith a busy routine to adjust to it can be easy for a young child to forget to drink as well as they do at home with you not there to prompt them. Check with staff that the children are given regular reminders about drinking and have ready access to their water bottles.

It can be easy for a young child to forget to drink.

Different toilets

Lots of us would prefer to use the toilet in the comfort of our own home and young children are no different. There could be something about the toilets your child finds difficult – a different type of flush perhaps from the one they’re used to or a hand drier they are scared by. Ask to visit the toilets with your child to see if there’s a reason why they may be avoiding going.
If children hold on to their wee and poo for longer than they should they are more likely to have an accident and possibly become constipated.

There could be something about the toilets your child finds difficult.

Settling down

Children usually stop having accidents as they get used to the hustle and bustle of nursery /school life. Their bodies are still maturing and accidents are all part of the process of learning to manage their bladder and bowels. If the accidents don’t settle down however or get worse, it could be a sign that your child has become constipated. For more help with spotting the signs of constipation and how it should be treated, download ERIC’s guide to children’s bowel problems.