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Re-Potty Training Your Child

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

It seems like I have been seeing lots of kids recently with issues about the potty and either regression with potty training and accidents, or “weird new frequent voiding habits”. Now I have always firmly believed that children are very astute, sensitive and pick up a lot about what is happening around them, and maybe some of our parental stress with the economy and world issues may be “trickling” (no pun intended) down to the toddler crowd.

Once children are potty trained, typically before the age of three, you think you are home free in that area. Not always the case, as this crowd may sometimes decide to become “lazy” and have accidents during the day that they previously did not have. They need to be reminded that they need to use the bathroom, as they have become engrossed in games, and playtime, and are not really as interested in going to the bathroom for a sticker as they were six months ago. They need to be gently reminded that it is time to go to the bathroom, and remind their brains and bladder of being full. Several weeks after these reminders they are back on track and taking themselves to the bathroom before it is too late.

On the other extreme are the children who decide they need to potty all of the time, even after they have just gone. No other symptoms of burning, irritation or fever, just the need to go a lot. If they are already nighttime trained they continue to be dry all night, but go every 10 – 30 minutes during the day. Where did this come from? Anxiety, stress, changing situations like a new your-baby or just mixed up feedback bladder to brain. This is called dysfunctional voiding and is more common than one thinks and will drive parents crazy while the child feels perfectly fine if they can just go to the bathroom all of the time.

This too requires a little re-potty training and letting the child relax after voiding and try and empty the bladder again. It may be aggravated by caffeine, carbonation or bubble baths. These children are otherwise totally well. You have to re-teach them what it feels like to have a full bladder. Some say stress and anxiety may start the cycle, but often there seem to be no apparent factors. If you continue to have problems, see your doctor for an exam and urinalysis and some more tips about dysfunctional voiding.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow!

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