Bodily Elimination Needs: No Laughing Matter

Soon after school starts many young children begin complaining of stomachaches and a constant need to use the bathroom. Incidents of bed-wetting and accidents in class also rise. Could the stress of school be too much for the kids or is there a medical problem?

"It’s very possible the child is not going to the bathroom often enough during the day," said Dr. William Strand, a pediatric urologist at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. "Some children would rather play and socialize during bathroom breaks at school and tend to ‘hold it.’ This infrequent urination can result in accidents during class, bed-wetting and frequent bladder infections."

"Parents should try to find out about their child’s bathroom habits during the school day," Strand said. He recommends that parents first find out if there are issues that prevent a child from using a public bathroom, such as fear for their safety or feeling self-conscious when others are around.

"Once those possible problems are dealt with, parents should consult a pediatrician and work with the child to create a bathroom schedule that incorporates established bathroom breaks while at school," Strand said. "Infrequent, hard or painful bowel movements may result from this holding behavior and further contribute to bladder problems."