Poor bladder and bowel control is very common in children. It can, however, cause a lot of worry for both parents and children.
Good toilet habits are important for everyone so it is important to teach your children from a young age.
Some common bladder and bowel problems that children experience are:
- wetting their pants during the day
- soiling (pooing their pants)
Bedwetting in childhood is very common. More than 100,000 children in Australia wet the bed every night. It’s more common in boys than girls and can often run in the family.
Most children stop wetting the bed without any help or treatment. However, if your child is over 7 or 8 years old and still wetting the bed, you should see your doctor.
Learning to use the toilet is a big step for young children. Most children are ready to start toilet training when they are around 2 to 3 years old.
Trying to toilet train too early can lead to problems with toileting. It’s important to wait for signs that your child is ready.
Toilet training requires patience. Girls are usually faster to train than boys, but not always.
Even when toilet trained, many children still wet the bed. Bedwetting may continue until about 5 years of age (or older for some children).
raisingchildren.net.au and SA Women and Children's Health Network have advice to help with toileting and toilet training.
Toileting and school
Children need to feel comfortable about using the toilet at school. This is important during primary school because this is when healthy bladder and bowel habits start. These habits will continue throughout your child’s life.
Going to the toilet at school can be a problem for some children. They might 'hold on' and not use the toilet at all. This can lead to problems like constipation.
For more advice see Toilet Tactics for schools.
What can you do to help?
There are some simple things you can do to help your child with bladder and bowel problems:
- talk to your child about what it’s like for them to go to the toilet at school
- encourage them to use the toilet when they need to
- explain how ‘holding on' isn’t good for their body
- make sure they drink enough water throughout the day
- maintain good bladder and bowel habits
- get a bladder check up
- get a management plan from your doctor