Occasional underpants wetting is not a problem. But if it happens frequently, it may be the result of a power struggle with your child.

By the editors of Child magazine, Photo by Frank Heckers
October 05, 2005
Credit: Frank Heckers

Q: My 6-year-old daughter still wets her underpants sometimes during the day. It seems like she's too old for this. What should I do?

A: It depends on how frequently the problem occurs, according to Barton D. Schmitt, M.D., author of Your Child's Health. "Occasional, minor wetting is generally normal, especially if it occurs when your child is trying to pull down her pants or undo a zipper, or if she stands up too quickly after urinating," he explains. In these cases, a review of hygiene techniques and some practice opening and closing buttons and zippers should help your child stay in control.

Frequent or heavy wetting at this age, however, can indicate a more serious problem. Consult your pediatrician to rule out medical causes, suggests Dr. Schmitt. If it isn't a physical problem, it may stem from a power struggle you are having with your child. The best ways to help:

  • Downplay your reactions. Don't criticize or punish your child for accidents, and don't allow siblings to tease.
  • Let your child take charge. Have one last talk with her about using the toilet. Explain that from now on, you won't try to help her remember. If an accident occurs, simply remind your child to clean herself up right away.
  • Be encouraging. During this time, make sure you offer your child extra praise, smiles, and hugs to show her that you know she's doing her best.

If symptoms don't improve after one month, Dr. Schmitt recommends consulting your pediatrician or family doctor again about other ways to help.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.