While many parents assume their children will be potty trained by the age of three, not all children achieve this developmental milestone by this age. Learning to use the bathroom can be particularly challenging for children with special needs or learning disabilities. Here are some tips for helping deal with incontinence in young children:
Reassure your child that occasional daytime wetting is a normal part of development. It's important that he understand that he's not the only one facing this problem.
Talk to your child about recognizing signals that it's time to use the bathroom. Give encouragement when he stops what he's doing (no matter how fun it is) to go.
Use protective underwear or pads to minimize your child's embarrassment. Products that look like regular underwear will help give your child confidence.
Talk to your child's teachers or caregivers. Let them know that your child might need to use the bathroom at certain times and arrange to leave an extra set of clothes at school or daycare in case of accidents that require changing.
Creating an Incentive Plan
Solving a daytime wetting problem should begin with a visit to your healthcare provider. Once any medical issues are ruled out or treated, you can come up with a treatment plan. An effective treatment plan requires cooperation from both parent and child.
If your child is uncooperative with your attempts to stop his daytime wetting, an appropriate incentive plan can help him get on board. Incontinence can be an emotional issue, so always be patient and remember that the problem is hard on your child. Here are some tips to help motivate him:
Relax. Because accidents can be triggered by stress, it's very important that everyone remain calm.
If you're trying to follow a timed voiding schedule, think of some age-appropriate rewards for going to the bathroom on time, such as an extra story before bedtime or a special trip to the movie theater at the end of the week.
Keep track of successes and downplay accidents.
Try to make home bathroom breaks fun. For example, choose a good book, designate it the "bathroom break book," and read it to your child during bathroom breaks. This way, he'll feel relaxed and less inclined to hurry, and if he likes the book enough, bathroom breaks might even become something to look forward to.
Empower Your Child
Daytime wetting can trigger many negative emotions. It's common for children who experience daytime accidents to feel embarrassed, alone, and immature.
As you work with your child and healthcare provider to rule out any medical causes of wetting and come up with a treatment strategy, assure him that it's not his fault. It's also important for him to understand that he's not alone and that there are solutions to the problem. A great way to restore confidence is to give your child the tools to help manage his wetting situation himself. Here are some ways to empower your child:
If your child is old enough to dress independently, make sure his dresser is well-stocked with protective undergarments. Many of these products, such as the washable absorbent brief, are made to look and feel like regular underwear. Having him put on his own undergarments will give him a feeling of control over his situation, and their resemblance to regular underwear will make him feel less like he has a problem. If your child tends to only wet a little, get him some protective vinyl pants, which can be worn over regular underwear. Because they look like regular underwear and help keep wetness from showing through, they can make your child feel more confident.
Have your child pick out his own timed voiding watch. They look just like regular watches and come in all sorts of colors and styles. Look at all the available features, brands, and styles and allow him to decide which one will work best for him. If he's old enough to recognize vibrations and get to the bathroom on his own, using a discreet vibrating wristwatch will give him a sense of responsibility that he can feel good about.
Find books about daytime or nighttime wetting that you can read with your child (or that he can read on his own, if he's old enough). Reading stories about kids who experience the same problem will assure your child that he's not alone.
Daytime Wetting and Enhancing Self-Esteem
Daytime wetting can have a negative effect on your child's self-esteem. Accidents are embarrassing, especially for children who feel like wetting is a problem that only they experience. Some children equate daytime wetting with being an undesirable person, so boosting self confidence is essential. Follow these tips to help improve your child's self-esteem:
Books about wetting will show your child that other children experience the same problem. Look for David’s Secret Soccer Goals, Prince Bravery & Grace, Sammy the Elephant, and Mr. Camel and Dippy’s Sleepover.
Try to make going to the bathroom a positive experience. Make the room and surroundings pleasant and child-friendly.
Have your child wear a vibrating reminder watch such as the VibraLITE. By heeding the reminders to go to the bathroom on schedule, your child will feel more in control of his situation.
Make sure your child understands that lots of people have daytime wetting issues.
Choose absorbent undergarments that look like regular underwear, such as protective vinyl pants over underwear.
When your child feels confident, it usually follows that he feels less stressed or anxious. Feeling relaxed is extremely important for any successful treatment program.
Removing Urine Smells and Stains
If your child experiences daytime or nighttime wetting, removing stains and odors from clothes, bedding, carpets, and furniture can be challenging. Here are some tips for making things fresh again:
Wash clothing, bedding, floors, and furniture as soon as possible following accidents. If you're unable to treat your child's mattress immediately, Urine-Erase works to eliminate set-in stains.
Use a stain remover and odor neutralizer designed specifically for urine. OdorZyme and Urine-Erase work to destroy stains and neutralize odors, rather than just cover them up. OdorZyme is great for pre-treating clothing and bedding, while Urine-Erase is particularly helpful for mattress and hardwood floor stains.
To ensure that you're targeting all of the urine (and to make sure that pesky odor doesn't reappear later on), use a black light to see the spots that might not be visible in regular lightning. The gallon-size Urine-Erase comes with a free black light.
To make things easier for you and to save money, always dress your child in washable fabrics like cotton. Fabrics that require hand-washing or dry cleaning are much harder and more expensive to care for.