Occupational Therapy News: Toileting Troubles?

Bed wetting

Many families assume that when a child is in school that days of nappies and bed wetting are behind them, however did you know that 20% of 5-year-old children still regularly wet the bed. If you child is one of those children, then you are not alone!

Although it may be common, just letting the child “grow out of it” is not always the best approach. By delaying night-time bed dryness, an impact can be seen on the child’s self-esteem, but also really impact on the family as a whole, including financially, time pressures and laundry!  If your child is wetting the bed more then twice per week, and they are over 6, it is recommended you talk to your GP about factors that may be causing it.

Many factors may cause bed wetting including stress, fluid intake, constipation, weak bladder muscles, infections or production of too much urine. Just trying to reduce their fluid intake will not solve the problem so it is best you seek advice from your GP.

Using your bowels

Many children (and adults) will find it uncomfortable to use a toilet at school or in the community to pass a bowel motion. On occasion if children hold onto their poo, it may lead to constipation and this can cause lots of flow of effects for their child. Bowel health is really important so a balanced diet with lots of fibre and lots of water can help reduce the risk of constipation. If your child often mentions they have tummy pain, or say it is hard to do a poo, then perhaps ask the GP to check out their tummy on their next visit. Did you know that there is a scale which health professionals use to evaluate your poo! The gold standard in poo is “smooth and soft, like a sausage or snake”.

What you can do to help?

There are lots of things that can be done medically to assist in your childs bowel and bladder health and a really good resource is the Continence Advisory Service of WA. The provide free phone support and advice to families which can point you in the right direction and give you lots of handy hints. Check out their website or call 9386 9777

Occupational Therapy support

OT’s often provide support in setting up the toileting environment so it is accessible for the child (such as toilet step or rails if the child has mobility or balance difficulties), but also consider the toilet from a sensory perspective. To help minimise the sensory overload a toilet often presents with, OT’s can design social stories, visual schedules and reward charts to address these issues of toileting.  If you child is having difficulty with some of these aspects, chat to your GP, community nurse, or contact the continence advisory service.

Berry Johnston
Occupational Therapist