Working with kids, I’ve learned that daytime wetting is a relatively common problem, but it doesn’t have to be. Like bedwetting, daytime wetting is actually very easy to overcome given the right tools. Here are the stats: Twenty percent of 4- to 6-year-olds accidentally wet their pants and three percent wet twice or more during the week. The worst is when it happens at school, because it’s embarrassing for the child. So how do you overcome it?
1. Identify the Cause
There are three main causes of daytime wetting: medical, stress, and behavioral. Fortunately, medical causes are less common than the other two (I personally don’t know of any cases where daytime wetting was caused by a medical issue). Nonetheless, it’s something you want to rule out since it could be a serious issue such as a urinary tract infection or diabetes. (More likely it’s just constipation). Signs to look out for include abdominal pain, genital pain, or blood in the urine.
If the problem doesn’t seem to be medical, it could be caused by stress. Have there been any recent life changes for your child? Did they just start school? Is there a new sibling? Could family issues or fighting be causing stress? If you identify a stress trigger, do what you can to help your child feel better. Let them know that their feelings are normal and work with them to overcome their worries.
But the most common cause of daytime wetting is behavioral. Young kids get so wrapped up in what they’re doing that they simply forget to use the bathroom until it’s too late. The good news is this is not only the most common cause of daytime wetting, but also the easiest to treat.
2. Start a Timed Voiding Program
The most effective way to overcome daytime wetting is through a timed voiding program. This is a method of bladder retraining in which your child goes to the bathroom on a regular schedule. Consistently emptying the bladder keeps it from overfilling, effectively stopping accidents. This can be done at regular intervals throughout the day, such as every hour and a half, or at specific times to match your child’s school schedule. Just let your kid’s teacher know what’s up so we don’t think the frequent bathroom trips are just an excuse to get out of class. No teacher should have an issue with a timed voiding program– they have probably dealt with it before.
3. Get a Vibrating Watch
A lot of kids aren’t great at keeping track of time. I know I wasn’t. Generally, kids who use a vibrating watch are much more likely to follow through with their timed voiding programs. Vibrating watches, also called reminder watches, can be set to sound and/or vibrate at regular intervals or at specific times throughout the day, reminding your child to use the bathroom. (They can also be used as homework or medication reminders, once your child has completed the timed voiding program).
4. Create an Incentive Plan
Another effective way to get your child to stick to the timed voiding program is with an incentive plan. My experience has been that the best, simplest, and cheapest incentive for children is candy. Whatever incentive you choose, it will not only make the program fun instead of a hassle, but also help your child maintain self-confidence. Focus on and reward the progress your child is making and downplay any accidents that might occur along the way. This will make the process of overcoming daytime wetting more pleasant for everyone.