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Why Does My Child Always Need to Go to the Bathroom?

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Why Does My Child Always Need to Go to the Bathroom?

May 25, 2018

If your child needs to use the bathroom every ten minutes or so, or if you frequently see urine spots in their underwear, you might be concerned. Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner says these are common symptoms in preschool-aged kids. She discusses the main reason young children experience frequent urination and the best ways you can help.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Gellner: You just took your preschool-aged child to the bathroom and now they say they need to go again. Should you be worried? Is something terribly wrong, or is this normal behavior? We will discuss that today. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner for "The Scope".

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering The Healthy Kids Zone, with Dr. Cindy Gellner, on The Scope.

Frequent Urination in Children

Dr. Gellner: Sometimes it seems that your child suddenly has to go to the bathroom every 10 to 30 minutes, and as often as 30 to 40 times a day. This usually happens when your child is around four or five.

You'll also notice that your child only passes a small amount of urine. It doesn't hurt when she pees. They don't wet themselves during the day, or if they do, it's just a small amount of urine on the underwear. That's mainly because they waited too long to go because they didn't want to stop playing. Your child doesn't drink excessive amounts of fluids, and they don't wet themselves at night time. So, what's going on here?

Stress, Emotional Tension, & Change

Frequent urination sometimes reflects emotional tension. Your child is not doing this deliberately. The symptoms are completely involuntary, and urinary frequency may begin within one to two days of a stressful event or change off the child's routine.

This is very common, and we see it often when a child starts a new school or daycare, or there is a new sibling or a move in the family. You can make the problem worse by worrying about a serious disease, punishing your child, or teasing them if they continue to do it.

So, you may wonder, how long is this going to last? Am I going to have to take my child to the bathroom this often for months? No, usually not. Overall, this is pretty harmless and it goes away by itself. Once you figure out what is stressing your child, it will get better in about one to four weeks.


A few children, who also have small bladders and problems with bedwetting, even before this urinary frequency happens, may have the symptoms over and over. But, as long as you figure out that this is not something serious, your child will be okay.

How to Help Your Children

How can you help your child if they are dealing with this? The first thing is to reassure your child that he is physically healthy. Reassure him that he can learn to wait longer before he really has to go to the bathroom.

Timed Voids

One thing we recommend is to do timed voids. That is where you have your child hold their urine for about 30 minutes, then they can have a bathroom break. Then you have them hold it for 45 minutes, and so on, so that you gradually work back up to their normal urination pattern.

The other thing is to have your child relax. Make sure your child has enough free time and fun time everyday, and try to figure out what's going on with your child that may be stressing them. Again, try to think of a stressful event that occurred just before these behaviors.

Also, ask the school or daycare staff for ideas, if there is something going on there. When your child is using the toilet frequently, don't comment on it. Commenting reminds them that the symptom is worrying you.

Don't Punish

Stop keeping a record of the amount or frequency of urination, and be sure that none of your child's caretakers or teachers is punishing them either. Stop all conversation about the frequency. The less said about it, the less anxious your child will be about it.

Avoid Bubble Baths

Finally, you can also avoid bubble baths and other irritants because bubble baths can often cause frequent urination in children, especially girls. It can irritate the opening of the urinary tract and make girls feel like they have to go over and over again.

If your child is having symptoms where they are having issues with wetting their self during the day and it is not due to this, or they are drinking an excessive amount, and by excessive we mean they could be drinking a lot through the day because they're hot and playing hard, but drinking large quantities of water every hour is not normal.

So, if your child is going to the bathroom very frequently and is in the preschool age, remember, this is a very common condition for them and unless they have other abnormal symptoms, reassurance is all that is needed.

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updated: May 25, 2018
originally published: May 11, 2015