It’s not an exciting subject and it’s one that’s rarely talked about, yet it affects so many of our children. As parents we talk about whether our kids are sleeping, eating properly, developing, but not very often about post potty training accidents or bedwetting. So I’m going to talk about it today in the hope that it helps some of you out. And just to give you a heads up, poo will be mentioned a fair bit in this post.
I recently read a book that has changed the way I think about all of this. It has changed my son’s life, and by extension has changed mine, which sounds huge but it is no exaggeration. I read It’s No Accident by Dr Steve Hodges.
Now I’m going to go on here to share things that the book explores and I am going to repeatedly suggest you get the book if any of this resonates with you. Yes, I realise that this sounds a bit affiliate salesy, but I can assure you that that’s not why I’m writing this post. I bought this book after so many weeks and months of frustrations with my son’s accidents and lots of research. I want to save others from going through it all, too.
As a little background, my son toilet trained in just two days, when he was 3 years and 1 month old. He bypassed the potty and went straight to the toilet. He took to it well and was completely accident free from day three. Then after a little while, the accidents started. Usually wee, occasionally poo as well. Why was this happening as he was trained and understood it so well? I was in no doubt that he knew what to do, so on mentioning it to friends and nursery workers, the normal reasons came out and the reassurances that it was normal and he’d grow out of it in time. Well, I’d have to beg to differ on that one now.
Let me take you back to the night that I ordered the book, after stumbling across it during many hours of Google searches. It was a Friday night, I recall it well as my son had been to nursery that day. The previous day he’d been home with me and had had 5 accidents that day and I was struggling to remain patient. When I collected him from nursery I found him hiding near the toilets with pants and trousers so completely soiled and wet that I threw them all in the bin – he was covered up to his back with poo and wee and I just couldn’t understand why he’d done it in his pants when he was right by the toilets. Oh, and if you’re wondering why the staff hadn’t sorted it, it seems I arrived just as this deed was done. I was so frustrated and yes, I shouted at him, even though I knew it was not the thing to do. At this point I’d still believed it was as others had told me, behavioural attention-seeking or perhaps laziness as he was busy doing other things. I think these are common misconceptions around toileting accidents after potty training and I’d heard of so many cases of it, I accepted the reasons.
There was just something niggling at me, though. I felt I’d spotted a pattern that my son had more accidents the longer it had been between him going to the toilet for a poo. This made me search around that theme and lo and behold, this website popped up, Bedwetting and Accidents.
Poo is the Problem
It highlights these key points and looks to make them clear to parents:
Potty accidents are not normal
Virtually all bedwetting is caused by undiagnosed constipation
Chronically holding poop or pee makes a child’s bladder go haywire
Kids who potty trained earliest tend to develop the worst problems
Children can poop daily and still be constipated
School policies and bathroom conditions are making healthy kids sick
According to the book, more than 90% of accidents, day or night, pee (enuresis) or poop (encopresis), are caused by constipation. It is not normal to have accidents after kids are toiled trained, it is not a development stage to wet the bed, perhaps due to deep sleep or hormonal imbalance. Yet I’m pretty sure this is what many of us believe. Constipation is so often the cause, as the author of this book has found through his own daily work and research.
Now I think the big thing here to understand, and if you do read the book you’ll fully appreciate, is the definition of constipation. You see you may be reading this thinking that yes, your little one has accidents or wets the bed, but they’re not constipated. Well, as the book and website explain, this may not be the case. They may well go to the toilet daily, but they could still have a poop mass inside them that’s pressing against their bladder and causing sensations to dramatically reduce down there so that they are not receiving the messages to their brain that they need to go to the toilet. The examples of research done on this that are shared in the book are truly surprising, with so many cases where parents were adamant that their child was not constipated, yet X-rays showed a very different story. Pop over and read 7 Myths About Kids and Constipation if you’d like to understand this a little better. It seems to be a growing problem, with kids being potty trained early, change in diets and less active lifestyles over the years and also some school policies on making kids wait for toilet breaks and perhaps having less than salubrious bathrooms there, all being contributing factors.
Anyway, back to us, and how my son’s got on since I better understood his accidents. We followed the book’s advice and got some laxatives and gave him a big dose for an initial clear-out. And you know what? It worked. After doing this, my son did not have a single accident for three weeks, that’s a full 21 days he went, having been having them several times a day for weeks. A huge change and one that left no doubt whatsoever in my mind that constipation was the cause, not attention-seeking or laziness, but a genuine medical issue. After the three weeks, the odd one started to creep in, always after he’d not been to the toilet for a little while for a poo, so we now ensure he has laxatives daily (we have visited a doctor who has assured us that this is safe for long term use) and we are working on improving his fibre intake, all longer term solutions as advised in the book, along with encouraging regular times for visiting the toilet to form good habits. It’s working. My boy is so much happier, as there are no more tummy aches or getting upset by his accidents. We’re all more relaxed as his accidents are practically non-existent now and he’s more comfortable.
So what I’d say is that if your child is having issues post toilet training with daytime accidents, bedwetting or holding and UTIs, check out the website and buy the book. It’s made such a difference here, so I’m hoping this post helps others, too.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links