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7 year old obsessed with pee

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Dr. Laura,

I'm currently at a loss, and I am not quite sure what is the next step.

My daughter is 7 years old, and she has a profound fascination with pee. She was potty trained around 4 years of age, and she never had any accidents during ages 4-6. During her seventh year she had her first accident. No major deal as she said she did not make it to the bathroom. Now she is doing this when she is awake. She claims that she doesn't want to leave, and its easier to pee on herself then go to the bathroom. My husband and I explained the importance of taking the time to use the bathroom. She seems to understand, but occasionally we run into this.

Lately I caught my daughter once, and my husband caught her another time in the bathroom with the door wide open. She is sitting on the toilet peeing into a paper dixie cup, and she is standing there staring at it as if she is entranced by it. When my husband caught her doing it he asked what was she doing. She kept saying nothing until she broke down into tears.

I don't know if I need to get her checked out by someone, but I don't currently trust the idea of having her spend the night at a friends house.

Thank you!


I can see why you're worried. Some people do grow up to be obsessed with urination, usually in a sexual way. But in those cases, the reason can usually be traced to spanking related to potty training, since spanking can stimulate nerve endings that trigger sexual arousal. I am making the assumption that this is not the case with your daughter. If it is, I would recommend therapy.

And if that isn't the case, then I'm not sure there is reason to worry just yet. I know it seems quite odd, maybe even shocking and disgusting. But in fact, for a seven year old who worries about accidents, the whole idea of her body creating this liquid and her having to work so hard to control it can be quite challenging. If she felt very pressured to be perfect about potty training, that anxiety could all be coming up again now. And if she's been to a doctor recently who had her pee into a cup, that could easily make her more aware of her pee.

So what can you do to help her resolve whatever is worrying her?

Obviously your daughter has some shame about this whole issue, or she wouldn't have said "nothing" and then begun crying when your husband confronted her in the bathroom. If your husband had not been taken by surprised, he could have had a lighter touch, and maybe gotten more diagnostic information. In such a case, he might have sat down on the edge of the tub, smiled at her, and said "Pee is cool, huh?"

She might have answered "Yes, it's such a beautiful gold color...Does everyone's " pee look like this?" or "Doesn't it seem like magic how this washes out our bodies?" or "I like the way it comes out warm on my clothes" or "Yes, but it smells funny...Do you think I'm sick inside?"

The goal of such a conversation is to understand what her fascination is, and to begin the process of melting away her shame. That helps melt whatever that sticky knot is that is obsessing her. You can still have that conversation.

But first you'll have to help your daughter dissolve her anxiety about the issue. The way to do that is to be playful about pee. Anything that gets her giggling. Make pee jokes, pretend you're going to have an accident, talk about how much you love to pee -- whatever gets her giggling about it. Once she offloads that anxiety by giggling, she should be open to a conversation.

As far as "trusting" her to spend the night at a friend's house, I think that's the least of your worries. If you don't find a way to make it safe for her to tell you what's going on with her, then how can she trust you to tell you anything that feels vulnerable to her? Once you do have that conversation, you should find that shining the light of day on her "obsession" helps clear it up.

Good luck!

Dr. Laura

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