Helpful Tips for Older Kids Still in Diapers

Susie McGee

When is it time to worry about your child's potty training delay and older kids still in diapers? The experts don't always agree, and you certainly know your toddler better than anyone else. However, do you subconsciously make excuses for your older child's inability to use the potty?

Concerns About Older Kids Still in Diapers

Is it time to start worrying? Are older kids still in diapers considered developmentally delayed? Will your kid still be in diapers when he starts kindergarten?

While some of these questions may seem ridiculous, they really are legitimate concerns. If you've ever perused the Internet on this topic, you might be a bit astounded to read all of the entries from parents seeking help for their kids. Depending upon the site you visit, you might just run across these questions, and suddenly your worries may not seem so serious!

  • "What's with this thing with companies making diapers for kids who are 7-8 years old?"
  • "Do parents really put their older kids in diapers for a trip to Disney world?"
  • "What I would like to know is what is the big deal about diapers on older kids? My 10 year old wears Goodnites day/night--my 15 year old wears youth diapers day/night, and my kids are not babies. My 15 year old was wearing Goodnites, but they were leaking too much."

For many of you, the term older kids still in diapers actually refers to toddlers or preschoolers, maybe even kindergarteners. How old is too old?


Before you begin worrying and trying to remedy the fact that your older child wears diapers, you really need to consider his or her motivation. Are you unable to potty train your child because of physical problems, emotional problems, or a combination of the two?

In regards to physical problems, keep in mind that some kids have smaller or overactive bladders, causing them to have more accidents or to have difficulty staying dry at night. In this case, there are products, such as Goodnites, which are designed to keep your child comfortable and help him or her avoid an embarrassing situation when away from home.

Emotional problems may be a little more difficult to diagnose and handle. Take a look at what is going on in your life and the life of your child. Significant, life-changing events can have a direct bearing on the behavior of your child. While a three year old who suddenly reverts back to wearing diapers might be of little concern, a four or five year old who suddenly begs for a diapers or begins to mess his pants is more distressing.

  • Has someone close to your child moved, left, or even died recently?
  • Are you and your partner having problems, separated, or divorcing?
  • Have you recently had another baby?
  • Have you moved into a new home?
  • Have you gone back to work?
  • Has your child's daytime caregiver changed?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have just found your answer. Your child may feel the need to revert back to his younger days simply for emotional comfort. While you don't want this to last forever, the best step you can take is to be loving and patient. Eventually, you may want to discuss this with your pediatrician. He or she may recommend counseling for you and/or your child if the problem persists as your child grows.

Helpful Tips

Potty training problems can be frustrating for you and your child. You don't want to exaggerate the issue so much, however, that it becomes a power struggle. Keep a positive outlook. Be patient, and be loving. Consider a reward system, but don't beg, plead, or cajole your child into the behavior you want. This only gives him or her more power.

Be firm and consistent about your expectations. If your child is an older kid in diapers, then he is old enough for you to talk to, reason with, and explain the consequences of inappropriate actions to. However, if there is any doubt that his inability to potty train might be physical, seek the advice of your pediatrician!

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Helpful Tips for Older Kids Still in Diapers