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My 5 Year Old Deliberately Wets Herself: How Can I Stop This?

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 26 Dec 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
My 5 Year Old Deliberately Wets Herself: How Can I Stop This?

Q.

My 5 year old daughter is constantly wetting herself both at home and at school and also at night. I have taken her to our GP and Health Visitor, but as there is no medical reason for this, they have put it down to sibling rivalry.

Her baby brother is now 2 1/2 and I really thought she would have grown out of this by now. I have watched her and it is not that she has an "accident" but that she deliberately does it in her pants. I am getting to the end if my tether. Her room smells like a toilet no matter how many times I clean it. My washing basket is permanently full. This really is causing unbelievable stress on the family. What can I do to stop this and help my daughter?

(C.R, 1 July 2009)

A.

Sorry to hear that your daughter is wetting herself, what a worry it must be for you.

Firstly, just to reassure you, it’s not entirely uncommon for five year olds to wet themselves. In fact, it can often start when they first go to school, often because they don’t like going to the school toilets, get embarrassed about asking to go to the toilet or simply forget and not go in time before they wet themselves.

Obviously, in your daughter’s case, it’s not just a case of her wetting herself at school, but also at home. It’s interesting to note that your GP and Health Visitor have both put it down to sibling rivalry. Wetting is known to be linked to anxiety and behavioural problems and can occur if a child is seeking attention, which is probably where the sibling rivalry theory comes from.

Although it is really annoying for you, especially with having to constantly clean your daughter’s room and do lots of washing, you may need to play it easy as far as getting cross goes. In the first instance, you could try implementing a rewards system – for example, a star or small treat for going to the toilet instead of wetting herself or a star for staying dry all day.

It might be worth just double-checking that child doesn’t have a phobia of going to the toilet, as some children can, and this may be the cause of it.

If the reward system doesn’t work, then some parents find getting stricter works. For example, if your child gets your attention after wetting herself, stop that and ignore it. Don’t get cross and walk away calmly. In extreme cases, some parents have even been known to make their children wash their own underwear and clothes after wetting themselves – which can make them less likely to wet themselves.

If all of this fails, then do go back to see your GP again. Extra help may be required with getting to the bottom of the issue and they’re the best person to help you, or refer you on to someone else who can help.

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A few yrs ago my wife and I was out shopping waiting for a bus when a child (boy) of about 7 yrs of agewet themselves he was clearly soaking and this mother pulled down his pants and underwear to his bear bottom and proceeded to smack him and then to further humiliation she pulled out of her bag a nappy and plastic pants and in full view of everyone proceeded to put a nappy and plastic pants on him saying he should have asked to go to the toilet .
Sapphiresdad - 26-Dec-16 @ 2:53 PM
My grandson came to stay with us after a few weeks we just had the odd accident during the day and after a few months was nearly dry at night .I go in to him every night at about 12 turn of as many lights as possible only using night light lift him and take him to the toilet then carry him back to bed and as a rule he is always dry . During the day at school he can wet up to 6 times and on other days not at all . When his mum and sister are here he will wet constantly till she goes home .if he is just with me and my husband he doesn't wet but I do have to put him on the toilet sometime as he won't go when asked .he has behavioural issues and this is why he is staying with me.he also has very bad eye sight the days that he wears his patch in school he seems to wet a lot but 4 days ago I stopped the patching in school and he has been dry . There are many reasons as to why a child can display upset ant at the younger ages it's hard for them to understand how to tell us .we have a tub of marbles 20 of them if he does wrong we take a marble away if he's good he can get it back .every week I buy a small toy and put it on display so he can see it or if he wants to go somewhere I write it in big colours and stick it to the wall if on Friday he has all his marbles he gets the reward .if he hasn't he can't have it . When he sees he has to change his clothes and put the dirty in the basket .he well tell me like he wants a reaction from me on don't say anything I just get his hand and take upstairs then tell him what he must do .when he starts shouting and banging I simply say do not come out of this room till you have changed your clothes then he has to take a marble out of good tub and put it in the bad tub .they have to learn that in life there are rules and punishment for there actions .
Jojo - 13-Oct-16 @ 7:29 AM
Some of these stories are close to mine,but not exactly the same. My child is (4) . potty training is the issue.his Dad & i have tried potty training on& off for a year. The last (3) months leading up to his 4th birthday. We got rid of pull-ups,only undearwear. He goes to preschool half day 1x per week. He only had (1) accident @ school. After that dry. He does not have accidents outside.@ home he peas & poops everywhere& anywhere. He has only poop 2x on the toielt. He does not seem to care if you praise him,let him stay wet, or have him clean it. He is the youngest& he has low muscle tone. Tried incentives. Being upset when he does it, ignoring it.What now or what's nexted.
Kel - 22-Aug-16 @ 12:05 AM
The common parental approach to handling deliberate urination or what appears to be procrastination in the use of bathroom facilities is usually so entrenched in our adult perspective, we are often unable to remember what it felt like to be a child. Carl Jung write (correctly) that civilization is a recently evolved thin layer over a more primitive and formerly dominant part of the brain. If we work hard enough, we may be able to remember the satisfaction that can come from a certain reckless rejection of what appears to be an excess of cultural rules. Some come from parents, some from school staff, and some from peers. It can feel overwhelming. We adults have very specific culturally acceptable ways of expressing our weariness with the pressure of societal restriction, but a child is not yet indoctrinated into the appropriate use of these little punches back at the world. (Some relief valves acquired later in life by teens and adults include saying "f- you" under our breath, having a few drinks, breaking something we own on purpose, abusing our authority in some slight or not so slight way, cutting off someone in traffic, non-violent protest, slapping someone, gossiping, a comedy show, secret moral transgressions, aggressive or extreme sports, or political activism.) To compound this limitation on a child's expression of discontentment with the conglomerate of restrictions, school staff members are not always nice or even sensible regarding bathroom policy during the school day. I remember a girl in my first grade class that wet herself because the teacher was just plain tyrannical and compassionless. A teacher may become frustrated with students or feel their lesson is more important than children staying properly hydrated. A facility may have insufficient porcelain to support the school year's class sizes. This is the reality. I don't have a sure fire remedy for you, but I will say that general practitioners and health visitors are not trained in child psychology. The sibling rivalry does not seem plausible to me, unless you are being grossly negligent toward her or grossly sexist (preferring boy children to girl children) which does not seem to be the issue in your case. The information I gave above may provide you a more enlightened perspective, greater compassion, and relief of some of the family tension as your daughter finds what must be mostly her own solution to the problem. Since her actions are deliberate, it will be her choice when to change, and it is likely she will if given the time to do so without unnecessarily amplified concern. Our job as parents is to make sure there is no safety issue creating unnecessary stress in the household and no threat to her well being (such as an adult with an addiction or the threat of molestation), conditions that are usually inexpressible for a child. Under such conditions, the only expressive option she may comprehend is to pee. You may also question the school (politely
Poochis - 29-Jul-16 @ 5:40 AM
JoJo - Your Question:
My 5 year old daughter would purposely wet her pants rather it was pee or poop so I started spanking her with a belt and put her in time out for two hours and took away all privileges for a week (such as) no going to the park, no playing out side in the back or front yard,no coloring or drawing on papper,no puzzles,no watching TV we also have a inside swimming pool and hot tub so no swimming or hot tub,the only things she was allowed to do was read or play with her baby dolls,or play with her leap frog or other toys (such as) her yoyo,bouncey ball,tops,beads,blocks,leggos,dollhouse, tea play set cooking kitchen play set,or her marbles. I would also make her go to bed two hours early tell one whole week had passed and when one whole week was over I would give all privileges back to her and I got her to quit purposely wetting her pants after 3 months

Our Response:
Smacking in some countries, including Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, has been banned, but in the UK smacking or 'reasonable chastisement' is acceptable in the eyes of the law. A light smack to the back of the legs is acceptable and many say this is the best way to discipline their child. However, any smack or punishment that leaves clear marks, welts, bruises or scratches is a prosecutable offence, and a parent could face up to five years in jail. While every parent has their own ideas as to how best control their child, for many, a light smack to the back of the legs or hands is sufficient for the child to know that what they are doing is wrong. This can be supported by a verbal scolding but really should not go any further than that, and a belt should never be used on a child. If you are in any doubt as to what the law says on the subject of disciplining your child, it is worth visiting the website of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) who offer practical advice and support on this rather tentative subject.
GrowingKids - 22-Jul-16 @ 10:26 AM
My 5 year old daughter would purposely wet her pants rather it was pee or poop so I started spanking her with a belt and put her in time out for two hours and took awayall privileges for a week (such as) no going to the park, no playing out side in the back or front yard,no coloring or drawing on papper,no puzzles,no watching TV we also have a inside swimming pool and hot tub so no swimming or hot tub,the only things she was allowed to do was read or play with her baby dolls,or play with her leap frog or other toys (such as) her yoyo,bouncey ball,tops,beads,blocks,leggos,dollhouse, tea play set cooking kitchen play set,or her marbles. I would also make her go to bed two hours early tell one whole week had passed and when one whole week was over I would give all privileges back to her and I got her to quit purposely wetting her pants after 3 months
JoJo - 21-Jul-16 @ 12:42 AM
I used to wet my bed when i was 5 my mother bought me large size nappy pants I wore them one night and never wet the bed again,as I didn't want to feel like a baby,that was not my mothers intensions she just wanted to keep my bed dry but it worked.
cat - 19-May-15 @ 2:19 AM
My daughter does the same thing, we have tried everything from rewards to stickers to days out. and also taking her toys off her.she doesnt seem to care. but also she will sit in the wet clothes all day if unnoticed. It seems to be getting worse and she smirks when being told off. She does it in school, we had a 22 day dry period but now it seems worse than ever.she still wears a pull up at night time as we have never been able to crack this yetshe has had medication to try and help and will be seeing a neurlogist soonany help please
pete - 15-Mar-12 @ 10:57 PM
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