A CONVERSATION WITH JODIE THOMPSON, PART 1
Jodie Thompson is a Paediatric Nursing Consultant, and she has 26 years of experience working as a caring paediatric nurse.
As kids are going back to school next week this can be a stressful time for kids, and parents. There has been a lot of disruptions to school routines during the last two years and uncertainty about what it will entail to be back at school can create stress in itself.
I asked Jodie a few questions that hopefully can help you, as a parent, better manage starting school again.
WHY DOES A CHILD START WETTING THE BED WHEN BACK TO SCHOOL AFTER A LONG PERIOD OF BEING DRY?
Children who have never been dry overnight are described as having primary nocturnal enuresis (bed wetting). Children who have had at least six months of being dry and then start wetting again overnight are described as having secondary nocturnal enuresis (bed wetting).
Given the past two years of disrupted schooling, changes in routines, increase in stress within the family, the potential for illness in families related to Covid-19, and children experiencing high levels of anxiety, can be a cause for bedwetting to return. Our children are living through unprecedented times of isolation due to Covid lockdowns and regularly changing routines and plans for return to school can have a significant emotional burden on children which can have an impact on their bed wetting.
Children can experience increased fatigue when returning to the school environment, having been engaged with a lot of home based learning the past two years. Finding their rhythm and routines again with face to face learning can mean their body awareness can be affected and they may not wake to the feeling of a full bladder.
Changes in diet or reduced consumption of water due reduced activity levels whilst in lockdowns can lead to constipation which has a significant impact on their bladder’s ability to store urine overnight.
SOME CHILDREN DO NOT LIKE SCHOOL TOILETS, WHAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP THEM HANDLE THAT?
School toilets can be very unpleasant places for many children. This can be due to the chaotic and noisy environment of many children running in and out of the toilets, the odours that are present, the high likelihood of unflushed or blocked toilets, or even the lighting and the sounds of flushing toilets. All of these elements can be overwhelming for some children, and they avoid the school toilet at all costs.
This often leads to withholding of urine which can lead to over filling and stretching of bladders making them less effective, as well as withholding of stools which can lead to constipation. As soon as the children come home from school they run at lightning speed to the toilet to relieve themselves, if they haven’t already experienced an accident prior to this.
To assist children with this, often it is helpful approaching your child’s teacher to allow them to use the toilets outside of normal break times. If a child is attempting to avoid a chaotic environment this can help to reduce their anxiety about using the toilets. Some children may be granted a pass to use the accessible toilets which may be located in a different location to the main toilet block which often is one single toilet in a room which offers them privacy and a less overwhelming environment.
Talking to the school about the specific issues that your child has raised may warrant further investigation and increased cleaning of the toilets if cleanliness is an issue.
HOW TO BEST MANAGE SLEEPOVERS AND SCHOOL CAMPS?
Many children who are school aged find the issue of bedwetting to be embarrassing and don’t want their peers to know that they still wet the bed. If only they knew that there were others just like them who also experience this but just don’t chat about it in the playground!
Having a private conversation with your child’s teacher about their continence needs whilst at camp is important as they can help support them whilst at camp, whilst remaining discreet about their needs and can dispose of any wet pullups they may wear overnight into a bin.
Some children are not keen to wear pullups to camp for fear of others finding out that they experience bed wetting. In this case, some children may use the medication Minirin to help keep them dry for those nights at camp, but this must be done under close supervision of their teachers. Alternatively, using products such as the Pjama Pants which look like regular pants you would sleep in, are a great way to contain any urine they may pass overnight and can be discreetly placed in a bag to take home with them. This helps to maintain the child’s confidence in front of their peers and allows them to enjoy their camping or sleepover experience.
KIDS COLLABORATIVE: WE’RE HERE TO HELP
Kids Collaborative is a paediatric nursing service, lead by Paediatric Nursing Consultant, Jodie Thompson, an experienced and caring paediatric nurse of 26 years.
Kids Collaborative aims to make a positive difference in the lives of children with complex medical needs or disabilities and their families by offering care and education services that are often difficult to find in the community, but play a very important part in supporting families.
Services include Paediatric Continence Assessments, Independent Nursing Assessments, Education for Common Healthcare Procedures, the development of Healthcare Folders and School Healthcare Plans for children with complex needs to support carers, other family members and school support staff as well as Occasional Care for children living within the Hills District and surrounds with complex needs.