Many children do not feel comfortable using school toilets. But depriving yourself of long hours can cause health problems. Why shouldn’t we hold back? Dr. Gérald Kierzek, medical director of TipsForWomens, explains it to us.
Eight in 10 children refrain from going to the toilet at school
Out of modesty or fear of being mocked, 8 out of 10 children from kindergarten to primary school avoid using the school toilets or hold back as much as possible according to a Harris Interactive survey published in November 2022.
“56% of children say they are embarrassed to ask permission to go to the toilet, and almost half do not want their peers to know, often for fear of harassment” “1 in 3 children also complain about peers trying to open the door or look when they are in the toilet”, reports the investigation.
However, whatever the reason, holding back is not a good idea and can cause more or less serious problems for your child.
Hygiene and self-confidence issues
What is the risk for your child by delaying going to relieve himself? Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens, answers us:
Holding back poses several problems:
- A problem with intestinal transit first of all. “The more we hold back from having a bowel movement, the more we create constipation problems, since the stools remaining in the colon become hard and difficult to evacuate”;
- A risk of urinary infection : “Holding urine for a long time promotes the proliferation of bacteria in the bladder, and therefore the risk of low or even high infection, as well as the risk of low or even high infection (pyelonephritis)”;
- A weakened bladder. “Constantly holding back will also affect physical development, retention will impact the muscles of the perineum and the bladder. But a weakened bladder risks no longer contracting and emptying properly”;
- A risk of regression : “For young children, going to the toilet is a natural part of the cleanliness skills: if I want to, I go to the toilet. Not going there can lead to regressions in this acquired knowledge”;
- A barrier to the child’s emotional well-being : “This situation creates anxiety in the child, especially when he fears interrupting an activity to ask to go to the bathroom.”
How to encourage children to go to the toilet without fear?
For Dr Gérald Kierzek, it is important to approach the subject with your children in a natural way: “Talking about personal hygiene early is essential. This is part of health education, which is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. We must therefore encourage them to listen to their bodies and respond to their natural needs.”
The association Les Petits Citoyens, which has developed a mediation game on this theme, also raises a subject which should be addressed more by the educational community, in order to remove taboos on places of comfort. Finally, the Harris Interactive survey indicates that contextual elements could also be taken into consideration to facilitate access for children:
- 81% of boys would go to the toilet more easily if it weren’t for urinals;
- 59% of children who avoid going to the toilet would go more easily with young people their own age rather than with older ones.
What if we made it easier for them by allowing them to be more comfortable.