Sunday, 20 May 2012

Spotting the signs of stress

Mini is 5. He was daytime potty-trained by 2 and a half years old, although night time dryness came around a year or so later.

Over the last 5/6 months, Mini has begun wetting again, and we thought it was without trigger. A lot of the time we couldn’t see why, but a pattern of wetting on the way home from school developed. Because he’d expressed concerns to me about moving on, Glenda-the-CAMHS-therapist felt that he was scared of coming home because he didn’t know what might be waiting for him – his bags packed, a new family….

As suddenly as it started, it stopped again. We thought all was fine, and put it down (big-headedly) to us offering lots more reassurances to Mini that we love him, and that he’s not going anyway.

However, over the last couple of weeks we’ve noticed - as we’ve begun to attune more to Mini perhaps? – that the wetting occurs when Mini is upset or anxious. And not just over moving on to another family, in many ways that fear seems to have receded a little, but over many things.

Last week was a prime example – he wet the bed 3 or so times, and wet himself on the way home from school every day (except Friday). We also had one accident at school.  It took us til the end of the week to realise what was worrying him – the school assembly. This was Mini’s third (and final) special assembly in which his reception class presents what they’ve been learning to parents and carers. Mini has not been worried about the previous 2 assemblies, if he was worried, he didn’t show it (that we can recall). He didn’t have a big part like some of the other children; he was very much part of the chorus as it were. So we don’t know what his concerns were, but he’s only wet the bed once since then, despite going away for a weekend immediately after the assembly. He was in a strange bed, in a strange environment with the excitement of nanny and grandad there too!

But oddly, he copes well at other stressful times, or at least copes differently. And things that have stressed him before are manageable for him the next time. Equally things that he’s not found remotely difficult in the past suddenly become the hardest task in the world….

But now that we’ve finally sussed this particular sign of anxiety (yes, we’re clearly slow on the uptake), we will use this new found knowledge to keep an eye on Mini during these wetter spells. Of course, he’s still only 5, and it’s not unusual for 5 year olds to have occasional accidents. Indeed, there are only a handful of children in his class who haven’t had an accident in school. But hopefully we’ll be able to tell the difference between an odd accident and a stressful time, and if we can spot a stressful time in the making we can try to make it easier and more fun for Mini.

The forecast says it'll all be fine.


  1. You are clearly way more on the ball than I am. Sheesh. I did battle with pee for going on 5 years now. I really truly hate pee!
    Good job with the detective work!

    1. Thanks Essie. I hate it too - as does my washing machine which is constantly washing either sheets or trousers and pants!

  2. We get bed-wetting at stressful times too like last week after direct contact, we also get lip biting, my little girl is red-raw round her bottom lip at the moment. It's taken this long for us to properly spot some of the signs but I have a theory that it's because at 5 they really are becoming a proper little person, the signs have chopped and changed and become more clear over the years. I guess I mean at 4 bedwetting is obviously not much of a sign but when it happens at 5 1/2 after a particular challenge has presented itself and follows months of no bed-wetting then it's surely a sign!

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I was feeling so crap that it'd taken us over 4 years to work out that wetting is one of Mini's signs. But as you say, there are so many things that seem normal through those younger years, and you only really question them when they should have grown out of those things.

      Your poor girl, must be so sore for her. The only thing I console myself with, is the fact that although it's awful that our kids are stressed, at least their signs are (once identified) easy for us to see, which means we can help or support. At least they're showing us somehow...