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Indecent Exposure

Q. Why does my potty-trained 3-year-old need to pee on the spot when he's outside and the urge hits him? How can I get him to stop?

A. There are a number of reasons preschoolers  -- both boys and girls  -- relieve themselves outdoors:

  • Your child may have decided it's a lot easier to do his business right there near his sandbox or swing.

  • He may not yet be adept at reading his body's signals (or he's so involved in playing that he doesn't want to stop), so when nature suddenly calls and there's no toilet nearby, he does what he can to avoid an accident.

  • He may have seen others relieve themselves outside and thinks it's normal and acceptable.

  • He may just want a rise out of you.

    To put an end to his behavior, don't overreact, says Stephen Nold, M.D., head of pediatric urology at Advocate Hope Children's Hospital, in Oak Lawn, IL. Calmly explain that it's only okay to go to the bathroom in the bathroom. Remind him to let you know as soon as he feels he has to go, especially when you're not at home, then help him avoid slipups by taking him to the toilet every two to three hours  -- whether he admits he needs a bathroom break or not.

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