Incontinence and School Children

In Australia over 4 million people live with incontinence and this is often associated with elderly people. However many children also suffer from various forms of incontinence and constipation.


Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine (wee) or faeces (poo).

Children’s Statistics

A 4 year old can initiate going to the toilet and hold on thus being dry day and night.

It is normal for children to void (wee) 4-7 times per day or every 2-3 hours.

Normal bladder capacity is 30ml + (age in years x 30) ml. For example: normal capacity for an 8 year old = 30ml + (8x 30) = 270ml.

4-5% of children have daytime urinary incontinence.

An estimated 22% of children suffer from constipation.

4% of children have faecal incontinence.

Bed Wetting

30% of children wet the bed at 54 months (4 ½ year old).

15.5% of 7 ½ year old children wet the bed.

2% of 12 year olds and 2.2% of 19 year olds wet the bed.

¼ of school aged children with bedwetting have associated day-time symptoms.


What Can Improve Incontinence?

  1. Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee, cola drinks and energy drinks).
  2. Maintain an age appropriate fluid intake. Age 4-8 years 1.2 litres (5 cups), Age 9-13 years 1.4-1.6 litres (5-6 cups).
  3. Maintain a normal weight for height.
  4. Avoid constipation and eat a high fibre diet with lots of fruit and vegetables.
  5. Engage in regular exercise.

Managing Incontinence at School

  1. Talk to your child’s teacher about the incontinence or constipation issues. Teachers are trained to treat all children’s needs with dignity and respect.
  2. Ensure relief teachers are also aware of the issues and management plans for your child.
  3. Plan for accidents. For example spare clothes in the school bag.
  4. Orientate the child to the toilet facilities at the school.
  5. Plan school excursions and toilet breaks.
  6. Encourage regular drinking of water whilst at school and discuss this with your child’s teacher.
  7. Talk to the parents of your child’s friends to encourage uneventful play dates.
  8. Encourage all children even those without incontinence to leave toilets clean and safe for all children to use.

Why Seek Help For Incontinence?

  1. Improve your child’s self esteem and confidence.
  2. Improve interpersonal relationships with peers and parents.
  3. Reduce the social stigma and embarrassment.
  4. Improve concentration levels thereby increasing the willingness and ability to learn.
  5. Reduce the financial burden of pull-ups, nappies and washing clothes and linen.

Early detection and treatment leads to improved outcomes and less stress on the child and their family.

Where To Seek Help?

Continence Physiotherapist, Eileen Lavis.

A Continence Physiotherapist has completed post graduate training in continence and pelvic floor rehabilitation. A Continence Physiotherapist can assess, treat and help manage the continence or constipation issues. Eileen Lavis is located at Rathmines Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centre. For more information on available services please call 4975-1622.


  1. Bridge. Autumn 2009, Vol 3 No. 1
  2. Brown J. Paediatric Continence: A Mother’s Journey to Gain a Diagnosis of her Child’s Incontinence. Autumn 2010, Vol 16 No 1.
  3. Caldwell P, Edgar D, Hobson E and Craig J. Bedwetting and Toileting Problems in Children. MJA 2005: 184 (4):190-195.
  4. Caldwell P, Edgar D, Jones MP, Hobson E and Craig JC. Treatment of Enuresis: Alarm Monotherapy versus a Multi-modal Treatment Approach in a Multi-disciplinary Clinic. Australian and New Zealand Continence Journal. Spring 2009, Vol 15 No.3.
  5. Continence Foundation of Australia. 17th National Conference on Incontinence. 5-8 November, 2008.
  6. Happy Toilet, Healthy Life – Parent Education Series.
  7. Tap Into Water Everyday Background Paper, The Royal Children’s Hospital and Murdoch Research Institute.