Is there anything more embarrassing or humiliating for a kindergartner or first grader than wetting themselves at school? It does happen. Such accidents can range from small wet spots in their underpants to needing a change of clothes. When a potty-trained child has wetting accidents during the day, it’s referred to by medical experts as diurnal enuresis. About 3 to 4 percent of children, more often than not school-aged girls, experience this problem. This is not an issue you should ignore as it can be a source of distress and embarrassment for the child, invite bullying from other students and lead to low self-esteem. Patience and support are needed to correct this problem and by following a few recommendations, you can help your little one overcome it.
Confide in Your Pediatrician
My first tip is that if your child is having frequent accidents, tell her pediatrician. Sometimes wetting problems indicate an underlying physical condition, such as a urinary tract infection, an overactive bladder or constipation. Prompt treatment may help your child become accident-free.
But it also may be that your child’s daytime accidents are a result of bad toileting habits. If accidents have been happening during the day for a while, it likely will take time to undo these habits. The important thing is to be patient, persistent and encouraging.
Tips to Consider
I usually recommend the following:
- Make sure your child stays on a timed potty schedule. Encourage your child to go at least every two hours during the day, even if he or she doesn’t feel the urge to go.
- Meet with their teacher and have her quietly remind your child to go to the restroom. Keep an extra set of clean underwear at school. Find out the classroom rules and routines for going to the bathroom.
- Talk to your child in a matter-of-fact way that that doesn’t make him or her feel embarrassed. Find out if they have any reservations about using the restroom, such as it’s dark, it’s a long way from the classroom, or they’ve been bothered by bullies.
Sometimes, a child is so focused on a classroom activity they don’t notice they have to go to the bathroom until it’s too late. Or, they’re afraid they’ll miss something fun by leaving the room to go to the restroom. Having the teacher periodically tell students to take a short bathroom break can help prevent this.
If your child responds well to rewards, giving small daily rewards for accident-free days may also help, though the best reward for staying dry should be his or her own sense of accomplishment.
Is this a problem your child is struggling with? Ask me questions!
Dr. Ghazala Abuazza is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Cypress Clinic. She has additional fellowship training in Pediatric Nephrology (kidney disease in kids) and would be happy to see and further evaluate and help manage your child’s bedwetting issues. She can also address other kidney diseases that might be associated with bedwetting. Her clinical interests include breastfeeding, healthy eating, immunizations, allergies, asthma, eczema and skin rashes, enuresis, urinary tract infections, dysfunctional voiding syndrome and other kidney diseases.