Skip Nav
Moms You Meet
The 13 Moms You Meet at the Grocery Store
13 First-Day-of-School Photos That Perfectly Capture the Way Kids Feel About School
100 Unique Yet Beautiful Girls' Names

Mommy Dearest: Is It Okay For Tots to Pee in Public?

Mommy Dearest,

I was downtown shopping with my friend and her two-and-a-half year old son, who is being potty trained. We were in a communal area admiring the city's Christmas tree when he announced he was about to have an accident. My friend knew he wouldn't make it to the department store across the street (where the closest restroom was) so fearing he would soil himself, she pulled down his pants and let him pee in the shrubbery. It took me a minute to realize what she was doing, but after he was finished and we continued on our way, I told her I thought it gross to let him pee on public property. She said I'd understand once I become a mother that it was an emergency and since he was wearing underwear, it was the only option other than letting him wet his pants. What do you think?

— Timid of Tots Tinkling in Public

To read the response from Mommy Dearest,


Dear Timid of Tots Tinkling in Public,

As a mom, I've encountered a few of these close calls myself so I sympathize with your friend. I have allowed my kids to pee on the rare occasion and in times of emergency in the trees when we were out in a rural area. But in a metropolitan situation, I always make a mad dash toward the nearest restroom. That said, I think we'll open this one up for our readers' feedback. Please chime in!

— Mommy Dearest

Submit a question for this feature at the Mommy Dearest Group on TeamSugar.


Join The Conversation
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
Alright, well, potty training is potty training. As a person who has worked with kids, and have potty trained kids and taught kids I think I have enough experience to comment. Training is something that needs to happen, but to train, you have to know where to start and when to end the whole fiasco of bringing extra socks, clothes, shoes, etc. Often times multiples of those items. Training is EASY as home and EASY at school, since they pee or poop, and they get changed. Not a big deal. It can turn into a disaster if you're going out for hours on end and aren't prepared. If you truly don't want to have to deal with the changing and cleaning up, then put your kid in a pull up. It's for a couple hours, you won't ruin everything you have taught him or her by doing it. As soon as you go home, underwear goes on. 2 and a half is definitely time to get a grasp on peeing in the potty, but 3 hours in a diaper isn't going to shoot all of your hard work to hell. You have to pick and choose what you're going to do. If you're going to be outside all day, wear a pullup. If you're going to a museum, it won't hurt to stop on a couple of bathroom breaks and bring a change of clothes. If you're going to be in a place with a bathroom all day, no need to wear a pullup. Anyway, is it okay for kids to pee in public? Just because I can stomach it, doesn't mean other people can. In an absolute emergency, fine. But making a habit out of it is not something you want to do. Some kids are old enough to grasp that you shouldn't pee in public...but some will see you letting them do it once as permission to do so again. You have to be the judge. There are people who get uppity about breastfeeding in public, where everything is covered. I imagine people will get uppity seeing someone's junk hanging out -- kids or not.
aembry396 aembry396 8 years
My friend came up with this lovely invention for just these situations:
skigurl skigurl 8 years
if her little guy said "i'm going to have an accident" and she knew that that meant SOON, too soon to run into the store, find the bathroom, and get in there and do his business, then she only acted the best way she could - she wants to instill confidence in this kid, and didn't want him to pee his pants. as long as she explained to him you can't just go anywhere and everywhere all the time, then it was okay just this once!
traceyroberts traceyroberts 8 years
Lazy mom. Hopefully this isn't a habit, although this mom sounds like she thinks she's above the rules. I don't want to walk through her child's pee. Stay at home until your kid is "trained" if you don't want to worry about accidents. I'm glad most of you are grossed out by this.
foxie foxie 8 years
Also, I agree whole heartedly with lucky chick. Comments like that are asinine, rude, and hurtful.
foxie foxie 8 years
I understand the concept of potty TRAINING, and how it takes some time before kids are able to hold it perfectly. Still, if you know you're going to a public, crowded place where you probably won't have access to restrooms, I think you should bust out the pull-ups. Better to let them practice being diaper free in the comfort of home.
nevadamtnbear nevadamtnbear 8 years
Hahah, well this is one of those subjects that I'll have to agree to disagree with some. With our son, one of the _key_ elements of success with him was understanding that sometimes he'd just have to pee outside a conventional bathroom. As someone else metioned, it's potty *training* and little bladders, despite your best efforts to get them to go at the right place at the right time, have minds of their own. Guess we're a bit *backwoods* in our approach, but I have no regrets or appologies for our methodology with our son. Wherever we were if he had to go, we made it so he could go. If his bladder told his brain "Hey, I'm full" I would not subject him to the embarassment of wetting himself when his body was doing all the right things - and yes, it was VERY embarassing for him to have an accident. And he was very proud of NOT being in pull-ups during the day. So, if we were out for a walk and nature called, a shrub it was. If we were in a parking lot, a tree worked beautifully. If it was our backyard, he was free to pee outside all he wanted. If we were someplace that didn't have a discrete place, we'd have him pee on our tire. A childs urine is not what I would call unsanitary given the very small quantity and in the case of most children, they are not typically as dehydrated as adults, so the dilution factor is there as well. But, I guess it just doesn't bother me much. However, we did have set boundaries, where he would ask permission to pee outside. So, now even at our house, he'll run inside to ask permission to pee outside. The rule now (he's 4, not 2) is that if he can make it in the house, he can pee in the house. So, the outside peeing happening much at all anymore. Now that we're expecting a girl, I've been pondering this, lamenting how much more difficult it is going to be with a girl. Potty training, especially pee potty training, was an absolute breeze with him. I don't see anything wrong with it. It's a child, children especially young children (under 3) have a very difficult time *holding* it because normally their brain doesn't recognize the fact that their bladder is full until it's FULL, especially if they are distracted or engaged in something else. It's a couple ounces at best, not like a grown person off loading a full bladder of concentrated goodness.
Greggie Greggie 8 years
I am a mother and still wouldn't do it. I wouldn't look down on this woman if I saw her, I wouldn't tell her not to do it, I just wouldn't do it with my own kids. Nor would they ever want to, I'm certain my oldest especially would have an absolute screaming meltdown before he'd ever pee in front of people.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
As a mother, I hate when non-mothers try to tell me what I should's annoying.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
But it's okay for dogs... please. Who cares? not me.
luckychick1 luckychick1 8 years
I would have to say not okay. Not because it's gross, but because it's disrespectful to the people around them. And I'd also like to comment on the woman's friend saying "I'd understand once I become a mother". I've been unsuccessfully trying to have a baby for a couple of years now, and comments like that are so incredibly hurtful. It's a very rude and condescending thing to say. Just because someone doesn't have a child yet doesn't mean they can't form their own opinion on issues such as this one.
facin8me facin8me 8 years
I live in a city where bums routinely relieve themselves on public transportation while sitting in their seat without a second thought, so I guess my standard to be grossed out is a lot higher. This isn't an ideal situation anyway you cut it: the mother may be weaning the child off the safety net of pullups or diapers, the mother may have been reluctant to "shame" the child by letting him sit in his own urine for any period of time, she may not have had a change of clothes with her, and when you're in a downtown area it can be hard to find a public bathroom (many are for paying customers). As far as being unsanitary and such, urine is sterile coming out. Plenty of places are breeding grounds for bacteria (including soil, where the kid eliminated). I think we need to distinguish between breeding pathogens and breeding things that won't hurt you at all. Healthwise, there isn't much to worry about here.
iieee_grrl iieee_grrl 8 years
Poor kid is being dragged around shopping by his mom and has to go. What's more unsanitary, letting a kid pee in a bush or having a kid with soiled pants sitting on a public transport train or bus and leaving pee all over the seat? So he peed in a bush - he didn't pee on the sidewalk or on the Christmas tree, geez. Lighten up. Some of you are so "cultured" it's coming out your ears as... oh wait, poop is a different subject.
Roux5582 Roux5582 8 years
I was feeling that it was really kind of gross and inappropriate until I read FFours comment... that we let dogs pee wherever they want. Good point. You won the argument in my opinion.
JennyJen2 JennyJen2 8 years
Urine contains large amounts of urea, an excellent source of nitrogen for plants. Either way - it was a little boy - what is the big deal. I honestly think this is totally a culture thing. And by culture I mean urban vs rural mindset.
katedavis katedavis 8 years
I actually think it's better for a little boy to have to pee in the bushes than to be walking through dog pee on the sidewalk. Clearly it was an emergency and maybe the mom thought pull-ups were unnecessary when in the city and around bathrooms (and I think they do hamper toilet training to a certain extent). She was discreet enough that her friend didn't even notice at first what was going on. I wouldn't make a habit of it, but it doesn't seem like this mom does.
Solo Cup Potty-Training Method For Boys
Toddler Wets Herself During Air Canada Flight
Girl Picks Out a Doll That Doesn't Look Like Her
Potty-Training Kids With Autism
From Our Partners
Latest Moms
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds