Brandy Palmer notices when nature calls, even before her four daughters do.
The urge is most evident in her three year old, whose dead giveaway is the potty dance: “back and forth, hands down low.”
It’s the wiggle a lot of children tend to do, particularly when they don’t want pottytime to interrupt playtime. But an Edmonton pediatric urologist says waiting to use the washroom can cause all sorts of issues.
“The most common ones are they have an accident,” Dr. Peter Metcalfe said. “They have been holding it for too long and can’t get to the bathroom in time.
“Or infections. The nature of, certainly females, it’s very easy for bacteria to crawl up into their bladder so if it’s just sitting up in there too long then that’s going to set them up for an infection. The system is designed to continually flush things out.”
Dr. Metcalfe tells his patients to schedule bathroom breaks. Elementary school students can typically plan breaks into the school day as they coincide with recess breaks and lunchtime.
“We try to get away from, ‘Do you want to go pee?’ and just sort of set up a scheduled pee break.”
Dr. Metcalfe says parents can do other things to set their kids up with healthy bathroom habits. He recommends checking to ensure your children are hydrated. In some cases, the root cause of bladder issues is constipation.
“So a couple of soft bowel movements every day… getting them to poop regularly and making sure they get lots to drink,” he said. “I tell them, ‘You want to drink enough so your pee is clear.’ It looks like water.”
Dr. Metcalfe says potty training makes bathroom breaks fun for kids, but he notices when kids reach school age they tend to start waiting which causes a whole host of problems.