Thousands of Iowa children will be heading off to school for the first time next month and some of them will have trouble not having immediate access to a bathroom. Doctor Christopher Cooper, a pediatric urologist at the University of Iowa, says parents need to start working with their children now to prevent future accidents.
Cooper says “The best thing is to actively encourage a child to go to the bathroom with frequent scheduled breaks. Many children get used to holding off on urinating over time and this actually causes the bladder to become overactive. Many accidents and bladder problems can be prevented by having the child urinate about every two hours.” He says about 15-percent of children in the early grades have daytime accidents and some medications promise help, though Cooper recommends a solution aside from drugs.
Some children need the medications but a U-of-I study found it impossible to predict which children could get better just by increasing how often they go to the bathroom. Cooper recommends first treating all children who have accidents with scheduled bathroom breaks, using medications as a last resort. He says parents should never punish a child for having a wetting accident.
He says to reassure the child that it was an accident and that it happens to lots of children to minimize the stress, and get them into a change of clothes discreetly and as soon as possible to minimize the embarrassment. Cooper says a study found some children regard wetting themselves as the third worst possible thing that could happen to them, behind the death of a parent and going blind.