28 answers

5 Year Old Constantly Wetting His Pants- I Cant Take It Any More!!!

I really hope someone here can help me!
My 5 year old boy is constantly wetting his pants. At least once a day but usually 2-3x. He also wets at night (but I am more concerned about tackling the daytime wetting first). This has been going on for at least 3 years- he was potty trained for about 6 months but we have been dealing with this since then. He has been checked by doctors at least 4 times now for this, but there are no urinary tract infecions, bladder abnormalities, extra urethra or anything else that they can find that would lead to this. the doc figures he may not be able to control the bladder muscles. he is on oxybutinin but it is not helping. We have tried reward systems, praise, punishment, constant reminding... I am at a loss as to what to do. I am so tired of the constant laundry and bathing, not to mention he is in kindergarten and i fear he wont have any friends due to this (he has wet 3 times at school and at least 6 on the bus so far. we do send him with extra clothes in case). this is causing problems too in the family as my huband thinks he is being lazy, so he is all for punishment... where I go back and forth and really dont know what to think. please help!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

it has been a while since I posted and boy, how things have changed. I think this is a good time for me to add on to the "what happened" section.
I finally took my boy to a pediatric urolgist. We has to drive down to Primary Childrens in SLC. With insurance, we didnt even have to pay anything for the apptmt!
The doctor put him on a voiding schedule, every 2 hours. We had to remind him every 2 hours to go to the bathroom, no matter what. We had a chart by the toilet so he could mark off each time he went. If he went at each appointed time that day, he got a treat. the doctor recommended a daily reward and suggested that at age 5-7, they are too young to be motivated by a long-term reward. She also recommended no punishment. If he had an accident, just remind him to change clothes is all.
This is a medical issue, in a nutshell the child has "held it" for so long and so many times that the bladder muscles bulk up. over time, the bladder wall may reach 2-3 times normal thicjness because of the enlarged muscle fibers. it now becomes dificult for the child to hold back such a powerful bladder. the voiding schedule not only helps avoid accidents and reminds them to take time out of their busy play schedule, but also helps relieve those bladder muscles so they can start getting back to a regular size.
We bought a 10.00 watch for my boy and taught him how to set the alarm for every 2 hours, also talked to his teacher so she knew he needed to be allowed bathroom breaks whenever needed, and i requested a classroom schedule and told him over and over at what times he needed to go to the bathroom each day. As a result, he rarely has accidents anymore. This changed from 3-4 accidents daily over the last few years to maybe 1 accident every 2-3 weeks. He still wets at night but I have been told this is a seperate issue and also that about 75% of the time once the daytime issue is resolved, the nightime accidents will go away in their own.

I should also add that the medications (oxybutinin) my pediatrician had him on apparantly do more harm than good in this particular situation. Oxybutinin is good for children who are experiencing "urgency" as it makes the bladder less sensitive, however this is NO GOOD if the problem is your child cannot actually feel when he or she needs to use the bathroom!

Featured Answers

Here are two options my pediatrician gave me about this issue after we ruled out infection:

Dry Time Clinic at Childrens Hospital ###-###-####

PEEP Clinic - Pediatric Effective Elimination Program Clinic ###-###-#### or www.peepclinic.com

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A., My son had a similar problem. You are not alone. Just remember he won't go to college wetting his pants. I know this is a hard thing to deal with. I had to put my son back in pull-ups until he decided to use the toilet. I also made him do his own laundry. When he started pooping in the tub, I had him wash the tub. It really helped me. I hope these suggestions help you too.

T.

More Answers

I know that this question was posted a while ago, but I have the exact problem with my 5 year old. Almost your same story. This helps me so much as I have had a rough day with this, and wondering what I can do for him. Thank you.
M

1 mom found this helpful

Here are two options my pediatrician gave me about this issue after we ruled out infection:

Dry Time Clinic at Childrens Hospital ###-###-####

PEEP Clinic - Pediatric Effective Elimination Program Clinic ###-###-#### or www.peepclinic.com

1 mom found this helpful

Please don't punish this boy -- he is humiliated enough by this problem! Doesn't anybody have compassion anymore?

Go directly to Children's Hospital, where they have a specific program for this problem. And for God's sake, put him in pull-ups so that he doesn't pee at school. Nobody will know.

My niece has had this problem -- also has a very unusual condition which might mean that she wears pads/etc. forever. You need to be prepared to accept such a possibility.

Counseling couldn't hurt. May I delicately suggest that IF your husband is hostile on other topics as well, the hostility could be contributing to this problem. Certainly he may not be, but it's a slam dunk source of the problem if he's one of those ANGRY people.

A.,

I'm not sure if this will help you, but my girlfriend had this problem with her daughter. She ended up getting some sort of monitor that went in her daughters panties that sounded an alarm when they got wet. Basically reminding her to head for the bathroom. With this (it was all medically supervised, but in CA, so I don't know who the Dr was), they did fluid challenges. Her daughter would drink a set amount of liquid, but then she would need to hold it for a set time to help her learn to control the muscles. The time would increase as her ability increased. I know it sounds funny, but it worked. It was a very large time investment on her part, but it sounds like you are already spending a lot of time on this. Maybe ask your ped about it? Good luck! J

My daughter just turned six and has several accidents a day. She too was potty trained (for over a year!) and then in the space of a week suddenly started having multiple accidents daily. We tried many things and what seems to (finally) be helping her is an increase in fiber. Apparently she is constipated, which causes the bladder to get squished and leak urine, and which if left untreated can take months to get entirely under control so that supplements are not neccessary. We got the Fiber Choice chewable tablets and give her one morning and night. We started with just giving her one in the morning and that helped a little, but it wasn't 'til we went to two a day that we really saw improvement. Now the problem is remembering to give them to her. Hope this helps.

I am going to recommend Holistic Chiropractic. It's not usually covered by insurance but it's really worth it. It is long term so expect 3 months of extensive visits and continuing follow up care. I am participating myself even though I was really really skeptical. I can't believe what a difference it's made. My chronic sleep problems have compeletly disappeared and my asthma is getting better. My sister turned me onto it when they used it for her son's bedwetting problem.

Hi A.,
I have an son who is almost 12 and is still having problems during the day and night. His dr. recommended that we have him on a timer. Every hour or so his timer goes off and that reminds him that he needs to go to the bathroom. The dr. thinks that when he has done this for awhile it will become habit and then we can stop the timing. I haven't tried it yet but I hope it will work.
Just thought I would share this with you.

C.

p.s. Punishment does not work! trust me I've been there done that!! I do agree that you can have him pull is bedding off and make his bed when he does have an accident, that will teach him to clean up after himself.

Andrea, I pray that you and your husband would not punish him anymore. I know that this your choice because he is your son but I have had two children; a girl and a boy that have had this problem and I have a friend that has a son that did this way into his teens and punishment is not the answer. With my daughter the issue was that her bladder was smaller and it could not hold all that she was drinking and unless I reminded her to go to the bathroom every two seconds she would often have problems either wetting herself at night or during the day "leaking" just a little bit out. I would get very frustrated beacuse as she went into middle school I was worried that the other kids would smell her and tease her. I believe her bladder is catching up with her now because the accidents are slowing down. My son was a very big kid for his age and had some sensory things and he just did not feel when he needed to go as quickly as me or you would and his accidents were all at night. He also grew out of this problem actually a little earlier then my daughter did. I know this can be very difficult and embarrassing, just remember that if you are embarrassed just think of how much more so your son probably is. Do not look at ihs reponse, my daughter acted as if she did not care but I could tell she did. It takes time and patience, may be letting your husband read some of the reponses you agree with will help him better understand. And if there are any ladies out there that have not responded that have a husband that was caring and understanding and had to go through this situation may be one of you could get your husband to write how he dealt with it so it could help Andrea's husband get a male perspective (just a thought)I am single so I cannot offer that help. One thing I did do with my kids is have them strip themselves down and the beds and wash the sheets themselves each time this happens. You can of course help with a younger child. This is as far as you should go; no yelling , no hitting, no demening, and absolutely do not say anything in front of your other kids, or anyone else. Help him clean up and that is the end of it. If it is for attention (which it does not sound like but I am not a doctor) then even negative attention will feed the problem. With the school you can talk to the teacher if you have not alredy have, and also the school nurse. Take extra clothes and leave them in the clinic along with wipes so he can clean the urine off of himself and have fresh underclothes and pants. I have found the school nurses (I hope they have these hear in Colorado schools) to be very open and helpful in how to handle this situation. You would be surprised at how many people have kids who do this. I hope I helped some. If you just need encouragement one day because you feel frustrated and overwhelmed and upset about the issue please feel free to send a message to me and we can just vent it out together:) A.

Do some research, the drugs help in less than 40% of cases and have some serious side effects! Night wetting is controlled by a hormone that concentrates the urine, not enough of this hormone, you wet. That's just how it works. This usually runs in families and is outgrown at some point before adulthood. The daytime could be several things. How many doctors have you seen? Any specialists? You've been told that he may not be able to control his bladder muscles, what exersizes is he doing for that? Males can do kegels too and those may help. Punishment Will Not Help.

Have you seen a naturepath or integrated medicine doctor? That may be a much better route that what you've done. Be prepared for a first visit of 45 - 60 mins, you'll be asked for a full history, not just bladder related, as well as a disscussion of what is going on in your son's life. They may recommed diet changes - this could be caused by an allergy, probably food, exersize, accupuncture, there are a lot of possiblities. But this drug can be bad news and may at some point keep nature from solving the problem.

In the meantime, calm down, so you have to do some extra laundry, it's not like you're slaving over a tub of water on top of a wood buring stove! Have you ever had incontinence? With three kids and stressing like you do, you probably will at some point, it's not fun and you can't control it just by wanting to, neihter can your child. Compassion and positive action to help his body do what it neeeds to is what is needed. Emotional stress can be a factor, so stressing at him won't help and might make it worse.

Andrea,
Try taking him off pasteurized dairy products. I don't know the biology of it, but it makes some bodies allergic and the bladder just has to purge. This happened to my neighbor's daughter, and taking her off milk fixed the problem.

http://www.notmilk.com/forum/376.html

You might also try raw milk - after you clear up the initial allergy. Raw goat milk may be the best. Just make sure you know your source. Just don't substitute soy milk.
http://www.realmilk.com/raw.html
Hope this helps,
-B.

Punishment doesn't sound like the best approach in the situation. Positive reinforcement when he does go on the potty would be a better way to encourage the behavior you want.

Also, before going the conventional route I would try a holistic approach like chiropractic. Several children have gotten great results and this is why: when a nerve is pinched in the spine it can cut off nerve signals, even the signals that go to the bladder. If all nerve interference is removed from the spine every part of the body has a better chance of responding properly. It could really be something as simple as this! You can google a chiropractor in your area and explain this concern so that they can help you address this. If my child were in this situation this is exactly where I would start. Chiropractic and positive reinforcement.

Andrea,
It looks like you got plenty of repsonses most of which is what I was going to say. Most of all I just want to repeat do not punish. Keep helping him instead of hindering. Try to find out and understand. There are too many things that can cause this. I'm sure he does not want to be embarrassed or wet and smelly. Poor guy. At least you asked for advice that is a good step. L.

Hang in there, Andrea. You're not alone in this problem. No great words of advice but know that there's many of us dealing with this and we need to band together and share advice. My daughter just turned five and started wetting her pants a year ago. She doesn't have bedtime accidents, just during the day. They say it's a mental thing, not a physical thing. I've tried it all, rewards, punishments and all I know is neither have worked. At the moment, I'm trying to just be nonchalent about it, no reaction or emotion. She now whispers to me that she's had an accident and I just state to go to the bathroom and put her clothes in the sink. I think it's an attention getting thing in our case, maybe in yours too. She does it worse when she's with her dad vs. home with me. Does your son seems to do it more with one parent vs. the other as it may be something he's trying to get attention for. I'll keep you posted how anything works and please do the same for me.
Thanks,
L.

A.,

What I see is a little boy that has a physical problem.
You yourself has said that the doctor believes that his bladder muscles are weak. Would you be so impatient with your child if he had MS or another muscular disorder?

Are there ways that you can assist him to have stronger muscles? It appears to me that you are treating this child like he is lazy yourself. Instead of a change of clothes perhaps he needs something that will assist him to feel safe around others.

I would be greatly surprised if your son feels like he is understood and appreciated by the way that you have presented this "problem".

With my whole heart,
C.

Punishment will make this worse not better. There is a difference of accountability vs punishment. Kids can and do regress. The newness of school and if they aren't reminding kids to go if they have to can cause issues. If he potty trained really early, it can cause regression at any given time. Sometimes, their bladder just cannot hold it for a long time and in school there are so many distractions.

Maybe something else is going on with him. Have you had him see a Pediatric urologist? One who actually specializes in bladder issues?
I would dig deeper, or just let it go. It isn't worth causing family problems, put on Big boy pullups at night, even during the day and step back a bit. He has control over this (or maybe he doesn't) and you cannot make him not do it, you just can't.
It is either a medical related problem or just a power struggle, the best thing you can do is step away and see what happens. I would tell him big boys have big boy priviledges and he has to earn those. He may be just under a lot of stress and changes, you had a baby three years ago, then another......stress can effect kids in different ways.
Just let it be for now if you feel there isn't anything medical going on. I watch a 7 year old that still has accidents on occassion. I don't agree about the dairy, unless he has other allergy symptoms I wouldn't worry about that.

My son has had this issue but not as bad. He is also 5 years old, potty trained fine at 2 1/2 then started to have issues later on. He was leaking a lot during the day (always has wet undies) and frequently got up all night to pee or wet the bed if he was in a deep sleep. He saw a urologist (mostly adult based) for one year (samples all free of infection) and was on oxybutinin for sbout 1 1/2 years before I was feed up. I couldn't get any answers from our urologist so I took him to see a specialist at The Children's Hospital in Denver. They have done so much! He started a clinic called the Dry Time clinic where they void every two hours all day. (There is more involovement as stool in the intestines can cause pressure on the bladder so they have a bowel regimen called poop sits.) At Childrens they also have some special equipment to take measurements of the urine stream which can give them more information about their parts without being so invasive. They calculate a water requirement and schedule his drinking habits so we avoid drinking a lot at night. Also we eliminated chocolate, citrus and carbonated beverages from his diet as they are irritating to the bladder. It is well worth the trip and the money to have our little guy comfy. I am so glad we took care of it before he started school because I can imagine how stressed and worried you must be. I really hope this helps and you guys can help him. It is so hard when they have no control and they already suffer enough without having to be punished.

I just wanted to share my experiences with one of my children to see if it might be a possible issue. My daughter had frequent accidents at an older age as well, although not quite as frequently as your son. But we did have them a couple times at school and lots at home, as well as several really close calls in public places. My daughter was diagnosed with sensory integration issues due to some other behaviors we were seeing, and finally realized it was a part of that. I don't know if you're familiar with SI, but kids can be on either end of the spectrum, and to varying degrees. There are those who are sensory avoidant, and get too stimulated by normal sensations, such as not being able to sort through multiple sounds around them, being too sensitive to sounds, not liking to be too crowded or touched too much by people, etc. and overstimulation can cause meltdowns. The other end, sensory seeking, is what my daughter has. She is fairly mild, but enough for us to notice. This child seeks out sensations in order to wake up the brain, and do not perceive certain things the same as others. They can be too rough with others, make lots of loud noises, etc. They may do things like spin around frequently and want things in their mouths all the time. Since they don't perceive things as strongly, they may want to dress opposite of what is appropriate for the season such as sweaters in the summer, tank tops in the winter. We also discovered they don't feel the sensation in their bladder as easily! She would be fine one minute, and suddenly racing for the bathroom in a panic where she may or may not make it! Kids with this can be greatly helped by occupational therapy. This may not fit your situation at all, but it came to mind as soon as I saw your note and I thought it was worth mentioning in case it applied. And by the way, she was completely accident free by 6-1/2, and dry at night by 7. I hope you are able to get at the root of what is going on, and able to get it under control. It might also be worth a simple conversation with him, asking questions about why he thinks he is doing it. Does he not feel it? Is he too busy? And, is he embarrassed by the accidents? You may gain some helpful insight that way, too. Good luck!

Where to start.... Hi, I have an 11 year old that had the same problem with his bladder from an early age also, we had all the testing done by his ped. and his bladder and kidneys were just fine. He does have a small bladder and was put on oxybutinin which he had to take two or three times a day and I found he had lots of side effects from that, the worst one being that he was unable to sweat, and he did competitive gymnastics so that was really bad.. I couldn't afford ditropan XL because its really expensive and we were students, so we ended up contacting the company directly and they were able to send samples to the doctor for us.. that was awesome, so my first question is, is he on Ditropan XL or just oxybutinin, and if he is just on oxybutinin have you tried Ditropan XL, it works way better... Next what medical tests have they done? My son, has had VCUG's, CT scans, ultrasounds...blood tests...the poor kid hates the hospital, but the tests were good and it wasn't until he was sent to ped. urologist that we found the problem. His bladder is small and just so slightly tilted, so when he pees, his bladder doesn't completely drain, and then when he least expects it he leaks... poor kid. So they upped his Ditropan XL because it does increase the size of his bladder and he was on it for a really, really long time. The other thing that we did was, hard as it was, we didn't talk about it, other than like a weekly check to see how things are going, we didn't discuss accidents, we just dealt with them. I know how you feel because I dealt with this problem with not one but 2 of my sons and have been for 8 years now. It does get better, it just takes time and patience. There is really no point in frustrating your self and embarrassing him when he really may have no control over the situation. I don;t agree with the pull up idea, it is really demeaning to put him back in them, (except at night, my son wears good nights and has never had an issue with it), but at school, or in public, it would be really self-esteem crushing. I found that once my son was on the right medication and the right dose and we stopped making any deal about it, good or bad, the situation got WAY better, not gone by better. Hang in there, its a hard one to deal with but just know that he won't go to highschool with the problem so be patient.

S. ~ SAHM of 4 sons, aged 11,9,7,and 3. They are a handful and oh so much fun.. I love the excitement of everyday life!

Oh, I am sorry you're struggling wit this. We've dealt with nighttime enuresis and even though there are certainly worse problems in the world, extra laundry *is* a pain.
I found some information and help at www.bedwettingstore.com. Yes, it's a retail outlet for bedwetting alarms, but there are links to some resources. I learned that constipation can be a trigger for enuresis, which is something to consider.
This can't be easy for your boy, either. He'd probably really like to put all this behind him and enjoy kindergarten without all the bathroom drama. Being wet and smelly at his age is so unpleasant I highly, highly doubt this problem can be blamed on laziness.
I know some children respond to timers or watches that signal reminders to use the toilet--there's probably something like that at that site.
My sincere best wishes. Please keep us posted.

Make him clean up everything himself. If that seems too easy for him make him scrub something else too, the kitchen floor or something. Make him fold ALL the laundry that he makes from this. Plus more. Make him realize how much work it is. Don't tell him "that's ok sweetie". It's not ok. You don't have to tell him bad things or scold him if you don't feel like parenting that way, but don't comfort him. At 5 this is a power issue.

Good luck, i know it must be hard.

Since you know it isn't medical, then it can very well be lazyness, or it could be that he is just an active boy and isn't paying attention to the his bodies cue's. Even knowing that I don't think I would go the route of punishment, I would put him back in pull-up's even at school. I know some might say that that would embarassed him, but since you have already tried rewards and "punishment" and have had no luck with it, maybe it's time to try a little vanity.That's probably the route I would take after trying other things and failing. GOOD LUCK!

Hi A., My son had a similar problem. You are not alone. Just remember he won't go to college wetting his pants. I know this is a hard thing to deal with. I had to put my son back in pull-ups until he decided to use the toilet. I also made him do his own laundry. When he started pooping in the tub, I had him wash the tub. It really helped me. I hope these suggestions help you too.

T.

A.,

I'm sorry, I know this can be frustrating. My son, who is now 7 years old, has just recently stopped wetting in his pants during the day. In his case, he suffers from the same problem that a lot of the boys in my family have suffered from. Spinal Tethering. He is tall for his age, has always been long for his weight. He grows so fast that his spinal chord doesn't have the time to catch up with the rest of his body and pulls up on all the organs in the lower body. He will eventually grow out of it. Have you been to a neurosurgeon? A neurosurgeon could tell you if he is tethering. Also, my sister took her kids to a chiropracter and had them adjusted a few times, not only did her 3 boys stop wetting during the day, they stopped wetting at night too. A good chiropracter can help. Be patient, and remember that he may be getting punished for something he can't control. He'll remember that, he's 5. Love him over it. There has to be an answer, nobody really wants to feel wet or stink. If what you've tried isn't helping, try something else. A lot of times when parents are upset by something their child is doing, the parent is really upset by how they will look to other people. Good luck and show an increase in love.

My nephew had the same problem. We solved the problem with Pull-Ups - Big kid training pants. This solved several problems for us...no more wet sheets, clothes or accidents at school. My nephew hated the feeling of the pull-ups being wet more so than his clothes. We aren't sure why it worked but, it seems like he was no longer nervous or anxious about having an accident. Also, the pull-ups are no longer bulky like they used to be, so you can't tell when he's wearing them. You don't have to worry about other kids teasing him. Hope this helps...

Hi Andrea,
You have some good responses, especially from the mom with 2 kids with small tilted bladders. I don't agree with her on the pull ups though. My son responds to science. When he is told why his body is doing things he can't always control he is relieved and tries whatever it takes to make things less stressful for him. When he had problems with wetting at school he was so embarrassed, his teacher came to me and said his chair was starting to smell and she couldn't keep the smell out with cleaners and it was starting to permeate the room. I guarantee you it was a lot less embarrassing for my son to wear pull ups, no one else needed to know, and he didn't have to worry about smelling at school anymore. He also wasn't going much, it was just a enough that his underwear got wet and he smelled. When a friend did find out he was wearing pullups my son told him the scientific reason and that it wasn't that uncommon. His friend was ok with that and nothing was ever said about it again. He would try on the weekend to go without the pullups so he could not be completely reliant on them, but for school it helped so much.
Also don't punish him on this, kids are so hard on themselves when this is a problem that any more negative from family or friends just brings down his self esteem. Chances are he will grow out of this sooner than later. By the way, the pullups take care of the constant washing problem, also, use oxyclean with your laundry detergent to get the smell completely out when there are accidents.
Good luck and stay positive,
SarahMM

A.,
Even though you didn't give a lot of information, I see he is the oldest of the 3 children and just starting school pretty much. It sounds to me that it may be psychological instead of medical. He is not being lazy, but sadly he is unknowningly wetting himself for more attention. I know how difficult it is to raise three kids, especially 3 that are young I have 2 girls and a boy. You and your husband need to start giving him some one on one time for 1/2 a day each. One parent watches the other two while the other spends time with 5 year old, then switch. You may want to start doing this with the 3 year old also because normally it is the middle child who has the least attention and may start having or causing problems too. What you are doing is saying ok this is your time with me (use a egg timer, one that dings)what would you like to do, color, play catch, read a book together, play a game. But let the child choose, it's their time to do anything with mom & dad. It seems like a lot of time but between the three kids it would only be 1 1/2 hour for each of you so 3 hours of mom and dad's time only. In the end though it is worth it and the child feels special when they get that one on one time and get to basically be in charge of what kind of fun for that 1/2 hour. Eventually, your 5 year old should stop wetting himself because he's getting the extra attention he's craving. Well, hope this helps, and I hope you all start to enjoy your one on one times.
Good Luck
E. G

I had this problem when I was young. I had a weak muscle and couldn't "hold it". I had to practice tightening and loosening the muscle while I peed until I was able to develop that muscle. It took a while but I had no problems by the time I was 6. I was never on medication for this. How would medication develop a muscle in your body? Stephanie L.

My oldest wasn't trained until he was almost five and a half. I was told his bladder hadn't matured enough to handle staying dry for the whole day. Some kids need pull ups all the time. I'd switch to that for a while and see if he needs just a little more time. By the time my oldest was in the second part of the year, he was done with having accidents. It may be a power struggle too. Although if it's happening both day and night, I think he's not ready.

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