Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wetting Pants and Sleep-Peeing! HELP! Connections and Solutions for Peeing Issues

By John and Diane.

I was just talking to someone who has a child with ADHD and has been wetting his pants during the day.  (As we know, kids with ADD or ADHD may have wetting issues as discussed in “Why are Her Pants Wet, but Her Bed Isn’t?” or The Link BetweenAttention Deficit, ADHD and Daytime Incontinent Episodes)

They have been trying to work with their son by telling him to go to the bathroom every hour to remind him and then follow up the bathroom visit with some positive reinforcement, “nice job!”  The problem they were running into was that other family members thought that the parents were treating the child like a dog… with the constant reminders to go to the bathroom, which made a difficult toileting situation even more difficult.

As I was talking to the parent, it was clear that reminders needed to happen in order to help the child deal with this wetting issue, so we came up with a solution that allowed the parent to remind the child to use the bathroom in a covert manner that wouldn’t embarrass the child or other family members.  Use a code word.

In this case, the parent would ask the child, “Is the moon out?” which would be the child’s cue to go to the bathroom. This not only solved the issue with the other family members, but made the situation less embarrassing for everyone else involved as well.

It is also important to let the child know that the wetting behavior is not a situation that the child is in alone. There are a lot of kids and parents that are going through the same thing, which helps take the stigma off the issue for the child.  The child must also be aware of his or her responsibility in the behavior though and making them assist with the consequences of pants or bed-wetting is a good way to do this.

If a child is resistive to using the restroom when you remind them, or of following rules as far as restricting beverages before bedtime, having them take care of their own wash is very effective in getting them to cooperate with the behavioral modifications. 

So, if the child refuses to use the bathroom after you ask him to or they told you they didn’t have to, then wet there pants, save there pants and underwear and don’t wash them. Make the child wash them, by hand, so they will learn what you have to go through.  Let them know that if they listen to you when you ask them nicely to use the bathroom and then they have an accident, you will wash their clothes for them and smile while you do it, because they listened to you.  

Peeing In Drawers and Hampers

I had another parent ask me about a son who peed in his dresser drawer and hampers. We determined that this was not intentional peeing, (see: Why is My Foster or Adopted Kid Urinating in The Closet (in a Jar, Towel,Hamper, Soda Can): The Red (or Yellow in this Case) Flag and How to Deal withIt.)

 But that the child was a very heavy sleeper, and actually would sleep walk. And pee!  He would dream he was peeing, and because he was a very heavy sleeper… he would actually sleep walk and pee in his room without waking up.  I have seen this happen with a foster child of mine who would sleepwalk. 

The solution in this case was over-the-counter sleeping pills.  The issue was, that even though the child was sleeping so deeply that he was sleepwalking and peeing, the reason for his deep sleep was because his sleep was irregular. He couldn’t fall asleep easily, and then would get up at a regular time, never really getting enough sleep. I kept his bedtime routine the same and with the use of a mild sleeping pill (with his doctors okay of course) he was able to fall asleep normally and sleep in a normal pattern through the night. He never sleep-walk-pee’d again.

I know that wetting behaviors are a big problem for many parents, foster, adoptive or bio, so I thought revisiting this topic was appropriate.  The use of a code-word to help with daytime reminders for ADD kids and the use of sleeping pills (with doctors approval) for unintentional nighttime sleepwalking peeing is another new solution that you might consider trying if you are having issues with your kids.

Do you have a solution that has worked with you and your kids? Please share!

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  1. There is a lot of good research on that topic. I'm a pediatric urologist and half my clinic is full of kids with these issues. We summarized the most up to date causes and treatments in a book, but even the website has useful info -

  2. Great! Thanks for sharing! I am sure our readers will appreciate all the help they can get!