There is a lot of information about the signs of readiness when it comes to potty training. However, when it comes to recognizing incontinence in a toddler, little can be found. This is because society by and large views the condition of incontinence to be very shameful, and no parent wants to believe that their child could be affected with such a shameful thing, so they deny it, even if there is an apparent problem present. They feel that if they scold, spank, or punish the child, he will somehow heal and the accidence will cease, since he does not want to experience unpleasant consequences. Another reason that parents may overlook there being a problem with continence in the toddler is because such a health condition is believed to only be associated with aging, which is ever so far from the truth (You’d be amazed as to how many people in the medical profession also believe this nonsensical myth, and you’d think they’d know better, since they’ve had professional training.). Because many hold onto the belief of this myth, they assume that there are no medical problems present, since children are young, vibrant, and healthy; hence it is automatically assumed that the tot is normal and that all accidents are an act of defiance. Any of these circumstances causes the child to suffer when this happens. The toddler suffers in more ways than one. He suffers psychologically because he loses his confidence from being scolded day in and day out by his parents for something he has no control over. This loss of confidence causes him to experience feelings of low self-worth, and then he becomes doubtful about doing anything, as he feels he has failed his parents in everything. It is every toddler’s ambition to make his parents pleased with him. Failing to make is parents pleased can be very devastating to a toddler because his world depends on pleasing his parents. When he fails to do this, his world is shattered. The toddler is affected emotionally because he is overcome with sadness, as he feels he is unable to win his parents love. Then, he is affected physically, should his parents decide to inflict pain on him for missing the mark of pottying correctly through physical punishment. On top of all of this suffering, he is confused because he does not understand why he is being treated in such a way. All he knows is that he keeps messing up, and he has no idea why. A toddler is not able to reason in the way that we do, thus he cannot understand that he is unable to control his bladder or bowels or both if both are affected. And if he is asked why he did not go in the potty, he will not be able to provide a good enough reason, so he is yelled at, dealt with in a punitive fashion, and even beaten or punished. Often times, parents fail to think about how such treatment effects toddlers, and they do not bother to put themselves in the toddler’s shoes, since all they are focused on is hurrying up an getting the child out of diapers as quickly as possible and are frustrated at the task of changing wet and smelly diapers day in and day out. So your toddler never has to endure such a fate, it is good to know the signs that your toddler may be incontinent. Knowing the signs will not only help you to better understand your toddler, as you will know he is not doing such a thing on purpose but is truly experiencing trouble, you will be able to be proactive in providing him with the best care and extending your love to him in such a way that will cause him to flourish and feel good.
One of the signs that your toddler may be incontinent is that he is not able to keep the diaper or training pants dry for longer than an hour or two. A toddler that has no problems with continence is able to stay dry up to two hours, which is one of the signs of readiness for potty training. However, if your toddler is past the age of three and is still not staying dry for that length of time, this is a good indication that something is wrong
Another of the signs that your toddler may be incontinent is that he is urinating eight plus times a day. If even an adult is urinating more than eight times daily, this means that the problem is definitely being caused by overactive bladder if an undersized bladder, under developed urinary tract, urinary tract infection, a kidney infection, or some other type of infection of the urinary tract has been ruled out. While meds can be taken to control overactive bladder, they wear off after awhile and quit working, as the body becomes immune to them. And from personal experience, I will tell you that when the meds stop working, diapers are your only option next to surgeries that are not effective in the long term, hence the importance of not making diapers seem like a negative thing to your toddler in case he needs to depend on them. If parents have humiliated their child and have done the damage of painting the image into their toddler’s mind of diapers being only for babies and that they are yucky, their toddler is going to feel like he is babyish and yucky, and he will then feel undesirable to his parents and worthless.
Furthermore, despite an extremely hardy effort that you put forth putting your toddler on the potty very regularly and following the regimen of very frequent potty visits to the letter, there are still a very high number of wetting accidents if the bladder is affected and fecal accidents if the problem is with the bowels.
Something else you need to take note of is that after awhile of training, let’s say two months, there is not an ounce of progress, or very little progress can be spotted. Your tot continues to have more accidents than normal. When I say more accidents than normal, I mean a number of accidents that is so high that the parents feel like killing the kid, possibly one or two or more daily without any letup or any sign of the accidents decreasing. This goes for both the bladder and bowels.
A good way that you know your toddler is having problems with his bowels is if he is having more bowel movements in his pants than the potty. If he is rarely making it to the potty to poop, this is a good indication that he may be lacking bowel control or something else is wrong. While it is normal for the child to go in his pants in the early stages of potty training, it is abnormal if it is continuous for a long period of time.
Another good indicator that something is wrong is that your toddler may tell you he has to go potty and tries with all his little innocent heart to make it there, but he fails frequently. This is not a sign of laziness. This is a sign of a bladder making someone urinate urgently or a digestive tract that is malfunctioning. Food allergies can also be a contributing factor if the problem is in the bowels. So, please do not confuse this with laziness or defiance. Parents often make this mistake, and the results are devastating to the child.
When the bladder makes someone urinate urgently and frequently, I will assure you from personal experience that there is a very small window of opportunity to make it to the toilet. And depending on how bad the bladder is overactive, the window of opportunity may not be present at all, as once the urge to urinate is felt, instant urination follows making the person feel helpless since there is nothing that can be done. The same goes for the bowels. If something is wrong that is causing the child to pass bowel movements frequently, or if it is noticed that he is not able to control them, he will not get it into the potty. Scolding your toddler for such things will make him feel even more helpless. Furthermore, your toddler will feel ashamed for having accidents in his pants and may hide from you in fear of being disapproved by you or getting into trouble; however, many parents mistake this behavior for the child doing it on purpose and being naughty. This is not the case. The child knows you disapprove of him having accidents in his pants, but because he cannot help it, it happens. When it happens, he gets scared and hides. He knows what he did and feels horribly ashamed beyond what words can
describe: yet, there is nothing he can do to stop it. He just hides in wait for the eventual scolding, whipping, or disciplinary measure that is to be dealt to him. The same goes for an incontinent adult. He knows when he has urinated or defecated on himself, thus he does something about it. Because the adult knows what has happened and clearly possesses the mental faculties of reasoning enough to know better, does this make him naughty and deserving of a punishment? No, it does not. The adult knows he has control issues. He knows he has had an accident, and he does what he needs to take care of it. The same goes for the toddler. The toddler is not able to take care of his own accidents because he is still dependent on his parents, hence the reason he just hides while still wearing his wet and soiled clothing. Wouldn’t you be afraid if you are so disabled that you had to depend on someone to clean you up that you know does not approve of you having accidents even though you cannot help it? Sure you would. The toddler feels this way also.
If you suspect that your toddler’s bladder may be overactive, or that there is trouble with his bowels, there are some things you can do to get ahead of your doctor and come to him prepared. Being prepared is very important since there are doctors out there that will refuse to test small children, just settling on the reasoning that they are just lazy and not applying themselves during potty training. So, having enough to state your case is important. I do want to note that if you have a doctor that suggests that this is your tots fault for reasons of laziness or defiance without any testing of intricate detail, you need to run for the hills. A good physician will do all that he can to get to the bottom of things rather than assume that your child is doing this on purpose and that he could not experience such troubles because he is not elderly.
One thing you can do is to make a bladder diary. This is done by recording how many times your child urinates in a day along with what foods he is eating and what types of fluids he is drinking. This diary will help the doctor to determine if there are any foods or drinks that are causing your child to urinate more often. If the doctor sees any foods or drinks that are triggers for making the bladder work more, he will advise you to remove them from your child’s diet and record everything in the bladder diary again with the triggering foods and drinks omitted. This will allow your doctor to compare notes to see if there is, in fact, a real problem. It is definite that caffeine containing foods and drinks will cause one to urinate, so when making the bladder diary for the first time; it is advisable that you remove such foods and drinks from your child’s diet. If he is still urinating urgently and frequently after these foods and beverages have been removed from the diet, this is a tell tale sign of overactive bladder.
Along with the diary, you may want to take note of how your child’s urine looks and write it down. For instance, is it dark? Do you see any blood? Paying attention to such details and putting them into writing will assist the doctor in coming closer to figuring out what is troubling your child.
It is also important that you research as much as you can about urinary incontinence. While there is not much information in regards to incontinence in children, you can use the literature pertaining to adults to help you comprise a list of questions to ask your doctor concerning your child. For instance, the literature will enable you to know what types of tests that are needed to diagnose urinary incontinence, and you could ask your doctor about these tests. The more informed you are, the better off you and your child will be, as you will see to it that your doctor is thorough in diagnosing your child.
Bowel incontinence is handled similar to urinary incontinence in that you will need to make a bowel movement chart. The information that is to be recorded in this chart is how many bowel movements he has a day, whether or not they end up in the potty or in his pants, what he has eaten, the color and appearance of his bowels, and the consistency, such as if it is hard, soft, loose or runny. Just like with urinary incontinence, the caffeine containing foods and beverages will make the bowels pass faster, so it is a good idea to omit them in this case as well. When you take this chart to the doctor containing all of the necessary information, he may suggest that additional foods be removed and that you start over fresh with another chart to see if the problems persist. If the problem is solved, then you and your toddler are good to go. If not, additional tests will need to be run.
It is a good idea that you research all that you can on fecal incontinence so you will know what to ask your doctor. You will know what more to look for, as well as what sorts of tests may need to be run. It never hurts to be too informed.
Knowing the signs of incontinence in your toddler will not only help you to get to the bottom of what is happening, it will help you to have a different attitude concerning your child. Because you have a better understanding and a different attitude about your toddler, you will not feel the need to treat him in a punitive fashion. Your toddler will thank you for your understanding of him, thus he will feel loved and his confidence and dignity will be preserved.