Preventing Toddler Self Wetting a Study of Three Methods
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
KEMP, M. K. (1999). Preventing Toddler Self Wetting a Study of Three Methods. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 2. Available online at Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Preventing Toddler Self Wetting a Study of Three Methods
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (
Toddler self-wetting has been a problem for parents for many years. Researchers and parents have searched for an effective method of prevention. Research in the area has produced varied results and conclusions. Some have suggested that bladder control is a maturational process, which cannot be accelerated (Largo, Molinari, Von Siebenthal, & Wolfensberger 1996.) Others suggest that intensive intervention can be effective in curbing the problem (Luxem, Christophersen, Purvis & Baer 1997.) In this study I attempted to determine which of three conditions; tangible reward, emotional reward or threat will best aid in controlling the problem of toddler self-wetting. I will then compare that information from a survey asking parents if they use any of these methods and how effective they were for them. I predict that the tangible reward phase will be the most effective because the desire for a possible tangible reward will induce a conscious effort in the child to curb the behavior. I also predict that the threat and emotional reward phases will have the least effect.

Toddler self-wetting has been a serious problem for individuals and families since the beginning. There has been extensive research into how to best curb the problem. In one study researchers used longitudinal data from 309 subjects born between 1974 and 1984 followed up from one month to adulthood. Parents were asked about toilet training, bowel and bladder control and child behavior. Bowel and bladder control was observed by day and night during the month before the examination. The results suggest that the subject`s initiative was the most reliable indicator of the subject developmental readiness to be consistently clean and dry. (Largo, 1996.) The study also suggested that "bladder control is a maturational process which cannot be accelerated by early or high intensity toilet training." I disagree with this finding, I believe that parental intervention, in the form of coercion can have an effect on the child, effecting toddler self-wetting. Another study (Luxem, Christophersen, Purvis & Baer 1997.) suggested that intensive intervention could be effective in combating toddler self-wetting. In this study the researchers measured parental intervention and child behavior as a result of the intervention. Parental behavior (intervention) included enema usage, glycerin suppository usage, toilet-sitting shaping, positive reinforcement, and a clean pants rule. Child behavior measures included diet, liquid intake and mineral oil consumption. Results of this study suggest that manipulation of these variables in various combinations were effective in reducing toileting refusal. In another study, an eight-year of boy with pervasive development disorder was taught toileting skills within a public school setting. During baseline the subject never successfully urinated in the toilet and wore a disposable diaper. The training included scheduling toileting opportunities at times when urination was likely and positive reinforcement when successful. Luiselli (1997) showed that toileting skills were quickly established and maintained with the use of a toileting schedule even after primary reinforcement was eliminated. These studies along with many others suggest that parents can take a structured approach to the problem of toddler self-wetting and be effective.The purpose of this study is to determine the most effective means of preventing toddler self-wetting through use of one of these possible methods; threat, tangible reward or emotional reward.


The participants for this study were parents who will fill out surveys while either dropping children off or picking children up at a local day care center in St. Joseph MO.

Materials for this study were a survey circulated at local day care centers.

I compared the information from the results of the survey asking parents if they use any of the three methods; threat, tangible reward or emotional reward and how effective they were for them.

A Chi-square test of independent variables was performed on the results of the survey. The results indicate that there is not a significant difference in the perceived effectiveness of either condition, Shi-square (4) = 1.92, p = .75. Results however indicate that emotional rewards are by far the most popular method of choice for controlling self-wetting, 29 of 48 parents (60.4%) surveyed reported using emotional reward, 10 parents (20.8%) reported using Tangible reward and 9 parents (18.7%) reported using threat.

This study offers no insight into how to prevent or curb the problem of toddler self-wetting. The only significant information is that the majority of parents prefer emotional rewards, this may be a result of parents not being willing to admit that they threaten their children or offer gifts in an attempt to curb the problem. The only future research I see in this area is to measure the effectiveness of emotional reward in a controlled experiment to determine if it is good for controlling other types of behavior, if so, this could be useful to parents in any number of negative behaviors or habits.

Largo, Remo, H., (1996). Does a profound change in toiler training affect development of bowel & bladder control? Developmental-Medicine-and-Child-Neurology. 38, 1106-1116

Luiselli, James, K., (1997). Teaching toilet skills in a public school setting to a child with pervasive developmental disorder. Journal -of- Behavior -Therapy -and-Experimental-Psychiatry. 28, 163-168

Luxen, Michael, C., (1997). Behavioral medical treatment of pediatric toileting refusal. Journal -of- Developmental-and-Behavioral-Pediatrics. 18, 34-41

Submitted 12/2/99 12:50:32 PM
Last Edited 12/2/99 1:00:29 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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