Daytime wetting is a common difficulty in childhood

Research suggests that it occurs in approximately 1 in 7 children aged 4 ½, and 1 in 20 children aged 9. Some children have simply never mastered being fully dry during the day, whilst others are dry for a while and then begin to wet.

There are lots of reasons why children may wet in the day: perhaps their bladder is overactive, they are constipated or maybe they are feeling worried about something. Another common cause is that the child doesn’t fully relax when they go to the toilet and so the bladder isn’t able to empty completely. Whatever the reason, daytime wetting can be really embarrassing and stressful for children: although it is frustrating, try to be patient and gentle – remember they don’t want it to happen either.

Top tips

  • Keep a diary: This will help to identify if there are any patterns in when wetting occurs eg if you notice it always happens at a certain time you could start taking your child to the toilet just before.
  • Introduce a toilet routine: Start to schedule regular trips to the toilet every 1.5–2 hours. Children often need time to fully relax their muscles for a wee so try not to rush them.
  • It’s important to be drinking enough: Children should have 6–8 cups (approx. 200ml) of water day. Although it seems like it might make sense to drink less, this can actually make the problem worse.
  • Relax: This helps the bladder to empty completely. It is important to be sitting comfortably and securely with feet flat on a step or stool and knees above the hips – a toilet seat really helps children to feel safe too
  • Have fun on the toilet: Perhaps you could have a special toilet toy or book; you could pop a little food colouring in the toilet and allow your child to watch how the water changes colour when you wee, or for boys introduce targets to aim at e.g. a ping pong ball or stickers on the back of the bowl.
  • Praise and reward: Children love praise! Try encouraging your child with a reward chart and reinforce whatever step they are working towards, e.g. sitting on the toilet for 5 minutes.
  • Talk to your child: Often children wet when they are feeling worried or anxious about something, so try to talk to your child to see if there is anything on their mind.

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If you would like further support please speak to your GP, health visitor or school nurse.