Fostering Self-Care Skills in Children Dealing with Incontinence
As a parent of infants and toddlers, almost all of us look forward to the day when our children are potty trained and we can say goodbye to diapers and wipes. However, some children continue to struggle with toileting issues and incontinence well past the typical age of toilet training. This can be due to structural abnormalities, having a child who has physical or mental special needs, or even a child who has experienced trauma.
No matter what the reason for the incontinence, handling the issue can feel like an embarrassing and frustrating experience. Today, we are going to spend some time talking about incontinence in children and youth and how you can help to foster the skills and independence needed for these kiddos to take control of their continence struggles so that they can live joyfully and confidently to the best of their abilities.
As we mentioned, there are many reasons that a child may find themselves struggling with the issue of incontinence. When it comes to anatomical issues, children with Spina Bifida, misplaced ureters, or a bladder that spasms or fails to fully empty may find themselves very accident-prone. Children who have developmental delays or are on the spectrum for Autism may struggle with toileting and need continual support in this area. If a child is toilet trained and shows signs of regression after being dry for a significant period of time, it is important that they be evaluated by a pediatrician, as they may be dealing with emotional stress, trauma or unknown abuse, or an acute medical issue such as a urinary tract infection.
Additionally, there are different types of incontinence. Some children seem to only have accidents at night, which is known as enuresis. This often affects those who are extremely deep sleepers. Other children have more issues during the daytime, especially those with overactive bladders that spasm. Kiddos with anatomical issues, conditions like Spina Bifida, or those with developmental delays will potentially struggle around the clock.
So, you may be wondering what you can do to help your child cope with and handle their accidents as independently as possible. The first step is being as understanding and patient as possible. As much as the repetitive accidents may frustrate you as a parent or caregiver, they also frustrate your child. A child should never feel shame because they have had an accident.
The steps that you can take to give them control are numerous. One of the biggest help is sticking to a schedule. Assist your child with setting an alarm on their watch or phone to take regular trips to the restroom. When their bladder is empty, they will be less prone to leaks. If your child is school-age, meet with their teachers and make them aware of the issue. Then, practice with your child how to approach their teacher discreetly if they have had an accident. Have them carry a spare set of clothes with them to make for easy changing.
Is your kiddo a nighttime bedwetter? Let them know that they are not alone, and thousands of children have this same issue. Set them up for success by making the bed with at least 2 layers of sheets and mattress protectors. Then, if they wake up wet, even a younger child can handle pulling the top layer off and have a dry bed waiting underneath. Teach them to place the wet bedding and clothing in the hamper and grab a change of underwear and PJs that are already laid out.
It is also vital to teach your child how to clean themselves after an accident and make sure they have wipes on hand. Explain the importance of this type of hygiene and how it will help them stay fresh and avoid potential infections. Another helpful addition to your child’s wardrobe is the incontinence briefs offered here at Tony & Ava. Our comfortable, leak-proof underwear appears no different than regular briefs and will trap accidents and odor so that your child can feel dry and clean until they can change.
Our leak-proof underwear is also the perfect solution for overnights and long car rides or outings. By filling your child’s drawer with these comfortable and functional undies, they can be confident that they are protected every time they get dressed, and that confidence can go a long way in helping them feel great about themselves.
Here at Tony & Ava, we understand that every child has unique needs. We are here to help by providing incontinence underwear and other adaptive products to give your child the confidence and independence to live their best life.