There are few other subjects that are more difficult to talk about, more confusing to deal with, or more frustrating to a parent than a child who is still bed wetting or having ‘accidents’ after being potty trained for some time. It seems being able to teach your child to control their bladder must be written into the imaginary ‘good parenting’ handbook and if your child is over a certain age then he shouldn’t be wetting the bed or having accidents pretty much EVER.
But we all know that just isn’t the case. It is not how typical kids work and it sure isn’t how sensory kids work.
I got into a conversation with a friend of mine just the other day about this exact thing. His daughter, who is typically developing (although I suspect some minor non-responsive and/or under-responsive sensory issues) turns 5 in just a few weeks, and had ‘regressed’ from his point of view (OMG I hate that word) and started peeing her pants again. He wasn’t happy. As a matter of fact, he was kind of angry with her. So, you know I intervened – respectfully and in private – but I had to bring some things to his attention.
The biggest thing here is that it is part of NORMAL development for kids to have bedwetting or pants-peeing episodes after they’ve been potty trained (even for years without accident). In my experience, it is extremely common for this to occur around age 5-6 or just about Kindergarten. Why? A couple of reasons I think…
First, children are growing physically. Their body is getting bigger, including their organs (and bladder) and the signals that they have grown accustomed to recognizing – the ones that let them know they have to pee, or are hungry, or are tired – are changing as they grow. Every growth spurt = new signals. This is for all kids – typically developing or otherwise. Add sensory issues, where signals from the child’s Interoceptive system are already a little jumbled up and having accidents or bed wetting should be expected. It is key to remember that the signals are interpreted by our children’s brains subconsciously. Meaning the signal may register in your child’s head that he/she has to pee, but perhaps the usual interpretation of that signal is that the child can wait an hour or more (so they can finish their Lego project or do ten more monkey bar runs), but since his/her body has been growing, they may not recognize the ‘you have to pee but it can wait’ signal and only clue in when the ‘it’s an emergency’ signal comes in. Interpreting new signals is like adding new words to their vocabulary – it takes time to get it right. …continue reading