Did you find this page helpful?
Helpline 0800 650 659 continence nz

Ask new question about Children's Continence

Wet undies


Hi there,
I have have just been reading your website which was suggested to me by our daughters preschool teacher and at last i feel like my daughter is not the only one, Anna is 3 1/4 and we started the toilet training at about 2 so we have been at this a while now with some success but mostly not. after reading under the section Enuresis where it describes "they suddenly demonstrate holding postures e.g. ‘curtsey’" i thought this is Anna she will do this and i say do you need to go to the toilet and through gritted teeth she says no and a little time later i find that she is wet but she doesn't tell us and often refuses to go and get changed quite happy in her wet undies. If we ask her to go to the toilet 9 times out of 10 she will refuse and perform except before the bath or before and after swimming and i feel that if i force to go this won't help the situation either. She can even do it all perfectly as she demonstrated last weekend when we were camping by telling us every time and staying dry (the novelty was a friends bus which had a toilet on it), we were all excited and hoped it would continue when we got home but no. we have done sticker charts and rewards for going to the toilet but they all loose momentum even when we change rewards or she get to choose the lollies or reward. we never feel like we are progressing at all. i am trying to be calm about it but it gets very frustrating when you don't see an improvement and then she does it perfectly for someone else and then reverts back when we get home. She is the same at preschool she has started to refuse to go for the teachers and then they spot that she is wet.

I must say we do not have a problem with poos this we have had sorted since the beginning of TT at 2 ish and she will go every time no problem so i have a small mercy to be thankful for. The last time i went to the doctor a few months ago i addressed the problem with my GP and she said not to worry till she is 4 and we did a wee sample which was clear. but im just not sure what to do now, at the moment she is back in pullups which she is not happy about but it is to give us all a break i feel like i could be doing something to help her and i don't want to make the situation worse by doing or saying things i shouldn't

can any one help? or is this just something she will get eventually, people are very keen to tell me she wont still be having problems when she is 21



The biggest question for you is - who wants Anna to be dry? If Anna is not motivated to be dry then you are fighting an uphill battle! I would suggest having a quiet chat, take the pressure off, say that you can see that she is not ready yet and that is fine, you'll leave it to her. Let her know that she has a whole year to get dry before school, but that she will need to keep wearing a pull up in the meantime. Wait for her to come to you and say that she is ready to stop using the pull ups.

We don't consider that the pathways are fully operational between the brain and bladder until after the age of 7, although most children will gain control of bowel and bladder around 3 years of age. Prior to this they are trained on 'routine'. Until this control is obtained star charts will not work as the child cannot achieve the goal with which the reward is associated. It is ok to reward for going to the bathroom, or sitting on the toilet, but not for actually peeing in the toilet.

If she is 'witholding' - doing the curtsey as you suggest then it would be useful to work out why. Possible reasons include - being too busy and not wanting to stop play, having an overactive bladder that wants to go RIGHT NOW and cannot wait to get to a toilet (or in many cases they cant actually walk and hold on), or toilet fears. Keeping a diary for a week of when and where she went and roughly how much (guestimate is fine) as well as water intake would provide the GP with more information. If it continues to be a problem prior to school and she is enrolled at a primary school the Public Health Nurse associated with that school will be able to get involved