I Need Advice on How to Help My 8 Year Old to Stop Wetting His Pants!

Updated on March 15, 2011
M.S. asks from Spokane, WA
9 answers

My son has a form of high functioning autism and was very late in getting potty trained anyway, but lately he has been reverting back to wetting his pants. It's getting really bad to where he ends up wetting practically every pair he wears. And he doesn't tell me, he just hides them in his closet till I go looking for them because he has no more clean ones to wear. I have previously mentioned it to his pediatric neurologist during his autism check ups because he was mostly wetting the bed at night, but since our last appointment he has started doing it during the day too. He has yet to do it at school which I find encouraging but I cannot seem to get through to him that it really needs to stop no matter what I say or do. I have tried explaining to him why it is not ok to do that, I have taken away his tv time or time playing with friends, but nothing seems to make a difference. He says he's sorry and feels bad but then turns around and does it again. We are at our wits end and ready to put him into pull-ups just to avoid having our house smell like pee all the time. If you have any advice please help!

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answers from Los Angeles on

my oldest daughter, high functioning special needs, was toilet trained around 5. by 8, she didnt have accidents. At 14, she started wetting her pants again, with no reason, (at night though), and while she completly understood that I expected her to get up & use the washroom, she simply stated she either was too tired or it was too cold to get up, she also said she was comfortable in a wet bed, no the pee didnt get cold etc, didnt bother her, and didnt seem to get my point that her room smelled, that it was gross... what would her friends think.. she had a plastic sheet, had to wash her own sheets, but in the end she wouldnt budge and wears pullups (an adult version) at 21. it totally irks me, but thats the way she is. Shes had counselling, she isnt troubled. she just doesnt care.

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answers from Minneapolis on

My stepdaughter had a wetting problem that come up anytime the stress level in her mother's home went up. She does not have autism or any other issues. We came to understand that her wetting was an indicator and would then question her mother about what was happening. Most every time it was something identifiable (stepfather job loss, talk about moving again, stepfather hitting her brother, mother being abusive...). She, also, never wet her pants at school, only at home. (And yes, we fought for years for custody and eventually got it).

Has anything changed in your son's life that could be causing him extra stress?

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answers from Chicago on

I wouldn't punish him by taking away TV time or playing with friends. Since he's hiding his pants he knows he's not supposed to do it. Something else is wrong.

I would have him bring you his pants at the end of the day or in the evening. If they are wet then you can teach him how to rinse them out. You'll probably have to stand there and help him, and even if he doesn't do a good job the point is he's doing it.

You could do a sticker chart with a reward for a week with no wet pants! He might do well with a small reward for one day with no wet pants, like letting him have a little treat. Then the next day a small treat for having dry pants etc. One week and he gets a bigger treat! At least that focuses on the positive and it puts you and him on the same team. You're rooting for him to get the treat!

Good Luck!

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answers from Denver on

my chiropractor has stated that he has helped with bedwetting and other health issues? Not sure if I believe it totally but it might be worth looking into??????? I know he makes me feel better.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Have you visited a pediatric urologist? Please do- you need to know why this is happening so you can help him. In our case, our son would "hold it" because he was so busy having fun doing stuff. 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(which is how old my son was at the time) 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 thickness because of the enlarged muscle fibers. it now becomes difficult 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 months.
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!
Good luck, I know this is not an easy situation.

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answers from Chicago on

I say so far, thank goodness he hasn't been doing it at school. And sorry, I work at a school but for some reason people do not have much sympathy about needing to go to the bathroom (including when I have to go-it seems I am the only one who ever has to go) so I have seen, even with children like your son, lots of teachers say no and perhaps he waits and waits. I would talk to the teachers anyway and let them know to let him go. He might not do it at school because he knows the rules, and ouch I cannot follow those very well, hence my own bladder infections a lot quite probably from holding it in. For some reason we live in a society where it is shameful to have to use the bathroom. Haaalllo? We do. Anyway, back to your son-I think and I know it's tough but one more time he needs to know it's okay to go to the bathroom. he is ashamed because the world makes us (ME TOO) THINK it is wrong or something. Remind him and good luck

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answers from Modesto on

My hat is off to moms that will be taking care of kids even when they are adults. My sil has a 24 yr old son that wont ever be able to move out on his own. I'd go back to pull ups if it were me. Your son is letting you know that he isnt going to change. God bless you.

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answers from Spokane on

It's very likely the hormone that regulates urine production, especially at night (it allows us to sleep that long and not have overflowing bladders) probably hasn't kicked in for him like it does for most children. My oldest son (8.5) is in the same boat and that's what the doc told me. J doesn't have problems during the day thankfully, but he rarely has a dry night. There is also medication available but we've chosen to not go that route.

My lifesaver has been bedwettingstore.com. They have tons of stuff from alarms to mattress covers to special underpants. The underpants are especially good since they look like real underwear (for the most part) so my son isn't embarrassed to wear them to sleepovers (vs. a disposable pull-up). We tried the alarm but it didn't work for us. I think that's because we'd been given a much used model and it was just on it's last legs. We plan on buying a new one this summer and trying again.

Also, if he had stopped doing it during the day for a while but seems to have started again, I would have his bowels checked. My oldest daughter, a few years ago now, start wetting herself and the bed again after being completely trained after a year. We thought nothing of it, because she was still pooping. We were also thinking that she was doing it because it was spring and she was having too much fun to come inside. Well, it got worse and worse until we could go nowhere without a bag of extra clothing and she'd go through several outfits a day as well as wetting herself at night. I took her to the doc for her physical, happened to mention her peeing so much and after answering a few questions the doc sent me to have my daughter x-rayed. I could not BELIEVE how much she was backed up and I felt horrible that we'd been disciplining her for problem and it was actually completely out of her control. Because she was so backed up, it was putting pressure on her other organs, including her bladder. It actually weekend her bladder so now, even a couple of years later, although she rarely wets herself during the day (she does have diminished capacity though) she still wets herself at night.

Your son may also have a bladder infection. I think a visit to the doc is well warranted to just make sure it's not because of an infection, etc. It will help you make your choices better on how to handle the situation. I understand where you're coming from. Having two children that wet their beds almost every night (my daughter is especially bad at wetting her "pull-up" (not the disposable kind but that's what she calls them), removing it in her sleep and then peeing her bed. Sigh... My husband cares for the kids in the morning before school and he doesn't always check that soiled bedding & pull-ups made it to the washer. My house often smells like pee. >.< Good luck!


answers from Eugene on

He cannot stop. He'll stop when his male hormones kick in between ten and twelve years of age. He would love to stop and he's very embarrassed but he cannot control his urinary muscles.
What kind of doctor did you take him to that did not tell you this. Put him in Pull ups and stop talking about it. This is a common problem for boys. My daughter was an fool about it listening to her new husband who had lost custody of his own children. Still he wanted to use fascist methods on her son to force control. Until a real MD told them the truth about urinary control and the hormones of puberty they did not change.
If you let him drop his clothes in the machine your house won't stink as much as when he tries to hide his troubles.

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