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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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How can a child be encouraged to empty their bladder or bowels?

Answered by
Dr. Ivo Ditah

Internal Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :2002

Answered : 3919 Questions

Posted on Fri, 12 Oct 2018 in General Health
Question: Thank you. Ipray you can help. My 5 year old grandson cannot respond to urges to go to the bathroom. I know this is not normal and paid close attention to his behavior this weekend. He just does not seem to have physically sense the urge. Ex: This afternoon we were ready to play a game and I instructed him to go to the bathroom first. He did and immediately had to return...then immediately had a bowel movement. Being his grandmother and a retired Kg teacher I am keenly aware between refusal and being unaware. He gets very upset and today said he did not want to live anymore. He explains repeatedly he does not know when to go. This has resulted in my son and hiswife (parents) having no patience, accepting no excuses, and even worse my grandson complies yes in to all the questioning he endures simply because it's what his parents expect....he fears their wrath and this issue is only getting worse. I fear his emotional health. His parents get angry if I try to tell them. Please, any advice that will help him will be greatly appreciated
Answered by Dr. Ivo Ditah 1 hour later
Brief Answer:

I recommend positive reinforcement for each time he stays dry!

Detailed Answer:


As a granny, I do understand how much worrisome this is to you. It is not uncommon in the growth of children to witness such lags or periods of regression.

The good news is that they often resolve spontaneously within a few weeks.

Being hard on the child doesn't help. It only makes the scenario worse.

I will encourage the parents to be patient with him, promise him a candy of something he loves each time he gets to empty the bladder/bowels without creating a mess.

This will help improve his performance.

Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if I can assist you further.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Ivo Ditah 2 hours later
Could there possibly be a physical developmental problem causing this?
All of your helful suggestions have been tried and they motivate my grandson but he continues having "accidents" He told me today he didn't want to live anymore. I forgot to mention he is spanked for these accidents. I am about to loose my mind. Thank you again
Answered by Dr. Ivo Ditah 20 hours later
Brief Answer:

Be calm. This will soon be resolved!

Detailed Answer:


These are not uncommon observation along the growth path of children. This is often referred to as regression and they often grow out of it sooner than later.

Kindly exercise patience and keep encouraging him as he traverses this rather turbulent but transient period. Hope the parents are getting more patient with him as well.

Hope I have answered your query.

Take care

Dr Ivo Ditah, Internal Medicine Specialist
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

The User accepted the expert's answer

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