Wee withholding is less common than ‘poo holding’ but it can be a worry for parents if your child starts to do it. 

The reasons why some children hold on to their wee can include: 

  • Being away from the comfort of home and family when starting nursery, school or another childcare setting. As the periods of time become longer, the holding can become more of an issue. A child may hold on all day at nursery for example and only do a wee when they get home. 

  • If your child has had a urinary tract infection (UTI), they may associate the pain they had with weeing, so try not to go even when the infection has been treated. 

  • Pain and discomfort when passing a wee can also be felt if your child isn't drinking enough. Their urine can become strong and may sting when it is passed, meaning your child may try to avoid having a wee. 

  • Being constipated and having an overloaded bowel can squash our bladder and stop it from being able to fill and empty properly.

  • When children have got used to withholding their poo it's not uncommon that they start to hold their wee too. By sitting on the toilet for a wee, they are more likely to feel the urge for a poo, or some stool could force its’ way out. So, by avoiding sitting at all they are still in control. 

    Check if your child may be struggling with constipation and find out how to treat it.

Wee withholding cycle  

  • Just like when children hold on to their poo, 

Wee withholding vicious circle representationHolding is likely to overstretch the bladder, it also makes the child more likely to endure a

urinary tract infection

Check out our advice for children with daytime bladder problems for more information and support. 

How to help your child stop wee withholding:

  • Look at that toilet environment, have a conversation about the child about toilets. 
  • If you feel the child is more sensitive to things like smell, touch, sound or visual inputs, there's lots more information in our Toileting and Sensory Needs resource.

Having a wee is easier when you are relaxed rather than tense. Help the child to relax on the toilet, make it more comfortable with their feet supported on a stool. Perhaps have music playing, read a story together or sing a song. When we blow, whilst sitting comfortably on the toilet, it helps us to empty our bladder and bowel. So maybe blowing balloons, an instrument or even feathers on cotton lengths may help them start to wee and with emptying. (blowing blog)
• Some children find having a wee whilst in the bath is easier, this is a great temporary solution, but obviously will not be possible away from the home.
• Sometimes the child has additional needs, they are unable to help with this, they do not have the capability to blow, release or in some cases to sit. It has been found that placing a vibrating object, over the full bladder, above the symphysis pubis (the bone........) helps the child to start to wee. The ‘Queens Square’ is a device that can be used for this. This difficulty must be mentioned to their health professional as alternative arrangements such as Clean intermittent catheterisation may be required.
• If the child has been unable to wee for some hours and are getting very uncomfortable, you have been unable to get them to ‘go’, you will need to seek medical help urgently.