How to Handle Daytime Wetting

How to Handle Daytime Wetting

What is Daytime Wetting?

Dysfunctional voiding: Children with daytime wetting feel the urge at the last minute and may suddenly demonstrate holding postures or may "curtsey" using their heel to stop the flow of urine. When they get to the toilet the outlet valve may not relax fully and so stops the bladder from emptying fully. When they go back to their desk the outlet valve will relax and urine leaks out. This residual urine also leads to infections so all children with urinary tract infections should be asked if there are problems with daytime wetting.

Some other causes of daytime wetting are:

- a twitchy or "overactive" bladder which may lead to wet pants or urgency
- a weak outlet valve which may lead to wet pants when laughing, coughing or straining
- urinary tract infections
- constipation which can lead to wet pants as well as soiling
- structural abnormalities with the bladder or the tubes from the kidneys - suspicious symptoms include pain on passing urine, a poor urinary stream or continuous dribbling of urine
- problems with the nerves from the lower spinal cord; weakness in the legs may be associated

What can I do to help?


- be patient and understanding - reassure your child, especially if they are upset
- respond gently if your child is wet even if you feel angry; they do not want it to happen either
- give the child plenty of fluid during the day; children may try to drink less to reduce the amount of urine but the slow bladder filling makes it harder to feel the bladder filling up and makes the problem worse
- avoid caffeinated drinks such as tea, chocolate and fizzy drinks
- teach your child to relax and take time when passing urine; girls should learn to void with their legs apart and smaller girls may find a footstool helpful
- provide spare underwear or a panty-liner for school; the smell of urine may embarrass your child and lead to teasing


- punish your child for what they can’t control
- use diapers or plastic pants if the child is over four or is embarrassed

When should I seek help?

It is important that all children with daytime wetting are seen by a doctor experienced with children's problems. The doctor will take a detailed history of the problem and perform an examination. A diary of time and volume of urine output and fluid intake is very helpful. Your child may be referred to a pediatrician(child health specialist) or urologist (a doctor specially trained in conditions of the bladder and urinary system). If a psychological problem is suspected, your child may be referred for help in this area.

How is daytime wetting treated?

10 to 15 percent of children with daytime wetting become dry each year but it is very distressing and dysfunctional voiding can last for a long time. (Voiding means passing urine).

Daytime wetting can be brought under control with retraining, and occasionally suitable medication.

Timed voiding: The best approach is to encourage the child to pass urine on a timed basis before they feel the urge. This allows the bladder to empty while the outlet valve is still relaxed. This needs to be individually tailored for the child and family, especially one who is going to school. The child should also try to relax and empty the bladder without straining. Sympathetic and energetic management putting the child in control, offering reminder alarms and sticker chart strategies are often helpful especially as the program needs to be continued for at least six months.

Double voiding: After voiding urine children count to 20 and try to empty their bladders again. This reduces residual urine in the bladder.

Pelvic floor exercises and teaching control with relaxation of sphincter muscles can be helpful, but exercises that encourage holding on to urine make things worse.

Treatment of constipation is essential to reduce residual urine in the bladder and obstruction of the outflow.

Some medicines can be useful. Antibiotics control urinary tract infections and can reduce bladder instability. Antispasmodic drugs such as "oxybutinin" do not result in long-term benefits by themselves, but may help short-term to assist with bladder retraining.

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