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Parental guidance: Wetting at school

A first grade class returns to their classroom

A first grade class returns to their classroom at the J. Fred Sparke Elementary School in Levittown, Island Trees School District which is for kindergarten and first grade. For a story on the Princeton Plan in schools.(Oct. 18, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

We have a granddaughter who just started kindergarten. She has been wetting her pants in school. Sometimes they send her to the nurse to change. She had a hard time being potty trained, but she seemed to be able to do it. She doesn't have trouble with anything else at school. Any suggestions?

"The most important thing to rule out is a urinary tract infection," says Alison Schonwald, co-author of "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Potty Training Problems" and a Boston pediatrician specializing in developmental behavior issues. That means a consultation with her pediatrician.

"However, often this is a regressive behavior that can occur during an otherwise stressful time," Schonwald says. Starting school counts as stress. "Since this was a vulnerable skill for this child to begin with, it may not be surprising that continence deteriorated while she's working hard at kindergarten," Schonwald says.

Minimize the pressure and anxiety around the accidents. Reassure her it's no big deal. "I would say, 'We'll work on this together and figure this out. We're so glad school is going so well in so many ways,' " Schonwald says.

Ask the teacher to remind your granddaughter to take a bathroom break every two hours so she has a chance to void her bladder. She may prefer to use a private bathroom in the nurse's office or teacher's lounge so she doesn't have the added stress of peers. If the accidents continue more than a few weeks, consult with her pediatrician for further suggestions, Schonwald says.

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