It’s one of those subjects people rather don’t talk about, incontinence. However, it’s time for the stigma to break. So, let’s just get to it.
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A day in school
Recently while I was teaching my students, I heard sniffles, followed by gasps, and then crying. One of the most embarrassing things happened to one of my students, he had accidentally peed his pants in class. In his mind, he saw teasing and bullying coming. And while in most classes this would be the response, the only thing that happened in my class was another student stating it happened, and yet another saying to the student it happened to that it was okay and it could have happened to anyone.
I knew this was the moment I couldn’t make any mistakes. I knew I needed to do 2 things, which was ensuring the student didn’t stay in his pee-stained pants, while at the very same time ensuring that there was no chance for my other students to even get the idea to make things worst. So, I advised the student it happened to, to change his pants for his P.E. pants. And while he went to the bathroom to do this, I explained to my class what incontinence meant and that it’s actually quite common. In fact, according to statistics, approximately 10% of children above the age of 6 are affected by incontinence and even 2% of adults.
When the student came back, I looked in the pants for the size and did something that might seem unexpected to some, which was saying to my students we were going on a field trip to a local clothing store. When we arrived, I explained to the store employee what was going on, and she helped me get the student changed into a new pair of underwear and pants, which I paid for. After this, we returned to class and continued where we had left off.
The result of this? No teasing or bullying, as his classmates understood that this was something that was actually hard for the student. Beyond that, the pants were suddenly the coolest of the class, as “the teacher bought them!”
What is childhood incontinence?
So, after this personal story, there might be a question of what incontinence actually is.
Well, incontinence is a condition that affects an individual’s control of the bladder or bowels and results in the involuntary loss of urine or feces. It is not a disease but a symptom of another underlying condition. There are two types of incontinence: urinary incontinence, which is the loss of urine, and fecal incontinence, which is the loss of feces. Both types of incontinence can occur in children, and they can have a significant impact on their daily lives. Incontinence is most common in young children and typically resolves on its own over time. However, some children, particularly those who are autistic, may continue to experience incontinence beyond the typical age range.
The stigma of childhood incontinence
Childhood incontinence is a common condition that affects many children worldwide. It can be a source of embarrassment and shame for children, which can have a significant impact on their mental health and well-being. Despite the prevalence of this condition, there is still a great deal of stigma attached to childhood incontinence.
The stigma attached to childhood incontinence is often perpetuated by society’s attitudes toward the condition. Many people view incontinence as a sign of weakness or lack of control, which can make it difficult for children to speak openly about their condition. This can create a vicious cycle, where children are too ashamed to talk about their incontinence, leading to further isolation, anxiety, and shame.
It is important to remember that childhood incontinence is a medical condition that can be treated. There are many different treatments available, including medications, behavioral therapy, and surgery. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to alleviate the symptoms of incontinence and improve the child’s quality of life.
Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in supporting children with incontinence. They can help to reduce the stigma associated with the condition by creating a supportive and understanding environment. This can involve talking openly with the child about their condition, providing emotional support, and working with healthcare professionals to find the best treatment options.
A lot closer than you might expect
This last part might seem condescending, as how dare I speak about a parent’s role in supporting a child with incontinence, right? Well, the answer to that should already have been clear when I noted the fact that incontinence in older children is especially more common among autistic children. However, maybe this photo might explain before I will just say it:
What you see in the photo is Abena Slip Premium Junior on the left, and Abena Pants Premium Junior on the right. As, yes, I’m a parent of children affected by incontinence myself. This is why looking back at the personal story I told at the start of this post, I know what happened could have been avoided. However, that’s also why I am writing this.
There’s so much stigma attached to childhood incontinence (and incontinence in general), that parents rather avoid using the medical resources that are available, just so there is fewer chance others could become aware that their children are affected by incontinence. However, they do not even realize that there is hardly any chance this would happen to begin with.
The reason why I don’t have any problems saying the brand we use, regardless of them not sponsoring me in any sort of way, is that I can say that their claims of no odors are correct. (Apart from when you’re busy changing them!) And beyond that, there’s no way for others to see them while wearing them. And if you still worry, there’s always the possibility of wearing boxers on top of them.
In general, it’s less uncomfortable to wear incontinence underwear than to pee your pants, or at least it should be…
In conclusion, childhood incontinence is a common condition that can have a significant impact on a child’s mental health and well-being. The stigma associated with incontinence can make it difficult for children to speak openly about their condition, leading to further isolation and shame. It is important to remember that incontinence is a medical condition that can be treated, and parents and caregivers can play a crucial role in supporting children with the condition. By creating a supportive and understanding environment, we can help to reduce the stigma of childhood incontinence and improve the lives of children affected by this condition.[Special thanks to E-Furor Stock Production in Lviv, Ukraine for providing the featured image]