How to Help Your Child Cope With Incontinence At School
Returning to school can be an exciting time as kids are ready to learn new things and see their friends again. However, it can also be a source of stress and anxiety as children don’t know what to expect with their new schedules and loud chiming bells. All of these disruptions from the relaxing summer routine can increase the rate of incontinence accidents. But don’t worry, there are steps you can take to ease the back to school transition.
When addressing your child’s teachers, nurses, and administrators, it’s important to remind them that children with special needs may not be able to communicate the need to use the bathroom, so you can develop a plan to assist them.
Teachers can support and help your child manage their condition while you’re away by:
- Allowing your child to freely go to the bathroom when they need to
- Determining a bathroom schedule to help them void their bladder before accidents occur
- Developing a code word for accidents
- Acting as a resource if your child is experiencing any bullying
- Identifying signs of your child needing to go such as holding postures
- Ensuring your child has a private environment to go in
If you’re nervous about addressing your child’s teachers and speaking about incontinence in public, remember that it’s a very common condition. Your child probably isn’t the teacher’s first student with this condition, and even if they are, teachers are there to help. Teachers want to help make school easier for your child and will take the necessary steps to ensure incontinence doesn’t interfere with their learning.
Be sure to contact your child’s teachers before an accident occurs by setting up a private meeting prior to the first day of school. Then, remain calm and honest as you explain the situation and incontinence causes. It may be helpful to write your child’s symptoms and triggers down, so you don’t forget them. You can hand the list to your teacher if you find the subject too difficult to discuss.
Encourage questions and listen to their feedback. Then, you can develop a plan to help your child during the school day and learn what they need to take with them.
Making Sure Your Child Is Prepared
The most important tool you can provide is your support. Encouraging, reassuring and understanding your child will motivate them through the school day. Getting frustrated or speaking negatively about the situation will only add to your child’s stress and anxiety. Remember: incontinence is not their fault.
Sending your child to school with incontinence supplies such as diapers, pull-ups, or chux will prepare them for accidents and allow them to go the entire day without needing a change of clothes.
But don’t worry about buying expensive undergarments from your local department store, as you may qualify to receive your child’s supplies through insurance by filling out a durable medical equipment supplier’s (DME) insurance qualification form. One of their representatives will contact you to discuss your options. Generally, insurance plans cover about 200 supplies per month. They will be shipped directly to your home in discreet packaging to maintain your child’s privacy.
An incontinence care specialist will be assigned to you in order to check in with your child each month to make any necessary changes. For example, they may need a more absorbent product and will need to change sizes as they grow.
Along with protective undergarments, your child needs a waterproof bag to carry any wet clothes home in, and a change of dry clothes in the event of an accident. You may be able to leave some clothes in the nurse’s office in case your child needs to change.
Packing your child’s lunch can ease their incontinence symptoms. School lunches don’t offer the best nutrition and tend to come with sugary juice options. Your child will be much better off with water, whole grains, fruits, and veggies.
Your Family Can Do This
Don’t let the transition from summer break to school stress you out. You can help your child succeed in the classroom while you’re away. Trust in your incontinence supplies to keep your child dry and your child’s teacher to keep them calm. Your son or daughter will tell you all about what they learned and how much fun they had in no time.
Cheryl Williams is Urology Team Leader at Aeroflow Healthcare.