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What is a good way to help a child who wets his pants during the day?

ALISHA [a parent]: My six year old has been potty trained for over three years, but he still wets his pants quite often, especially when he's out playing. Any suggestions?

KEVIN [Dr. Kevin Leman]: The Reality Discipline "standard order of procedure" is to give the child one pair of underwear a day. If he gets them wet, he comes in and the end of his day draws nigh, no matter what time it might be. He puts on his pajamas or his robe and he is to stay in the house. The idea is not to be punitive but you firmly but gently tell him his day has come to an end.

RANDY [Randy Carlson]: The one pair of underwear a day approach often works, but not always. Some friends of ours had a child who would wet his pants during the day, particularly when he got excited at school. They tried Reality Discipline and gave him only one pair of underwear a day. He didn't like that, but it still didn't change his total pattern. He'd still wet his pants fairly often.

So, they took him to a pediatrician who checked him out for any neurological impairment, which often is tied to lack of bladder control. There wasn't any, but then the doctor suggested that they look at any stress the boy might have in his life. They pinpointed his routine at school and made an agreement with their son's teacher that he be permitted to take regular breaks during the school day to use the rest room. This helped the problem, at least while he was in school.

Another thing the doctor suggested was to try to have their son hold more urine in his bladder before going to the bathroom. In this way he could stretch the bladder so that it would actually hold more and he'd have a greater sense of control. The bottom line is that their child is simply going through a stage. They have learned to take it in stride and the problem has decreased quite a bit.

KEVIN: I've also counseled kids who continued to wet their pants, even though the one pair of pants a day rule was invoked. But I still think that's the place to start. Then, if they need to change their routine, for example going to the rest room more often during the day, that's great, but the point is, they are becoming responsible for their own problem.

Author: excerpt from Parent Talk by Dr. Kevin Leman and Randy Carlson of Family Life Communications

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