Ok, so I'm sure that if my daughter were a teenager and knew that I was writing this she would be mortified. But she's four, her reading ability is very limited and therefore I can still get away with this. Besides, it's for the benefit of moms everywhere.
So my daughter has accidents. Children do. It's part of life, it's something they grow out of. Usually she'll start 'doing the potty dance' and I or the nearest adult will tell her to go to the bathroom. She will respond that she doesn't need to go, keep playing, and a few minutes later she'll run off and have an accident on the way to the toilet. This probably happens sometimes once, sometimes 5 times a week. But sometimes she'll have an accident without the dance or any other warning. I mentioned it to her pediatrician at her last well-child check. He looked at her, but was not concerned. 'She'll grow out of it.' This goes on for a few more months, but she doesn't have any pain, fevers or other signs that might indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI). Last week she had 7 accidents in 12 hours and was very upset each time. I took her to the pediatrician as soon as I could get her in. She was seen, she peed in a cup and they started her on an anti-biotic. A couple days later they called me back and said she didn't actually have a UTI. Apparently she has something called idiopathic bladder spasms. That means that her bladder suddenly and violently contracts without any apparent reason. From what I've read it's very rare, but in three days I've run into 3 other moms whose four-year-olds were diagnosed with it, so it can't be that rare. So she is taking a medication called Oxybutynin (Ditropan), which reduces bladder spasms. So far, so much better. I just feel bad that I did take care of the problem sooner.
The most common cause of bladder accidents in children is a urinary tract infection. If you suspect this, take care of it immediately because a UTI can lead to other problems. And even if it isn't a UTI, it's possible that it's another problem that can be easily treated. Sometimes bladder accidents are caused by stress. Look at the whole picture and talk to your child. Accidents can also be a result of nerve damage or the side-effect of a medication. Certain foods such as pickles, citrus, caffiene, chocolate, tomatoes and artificial sweeteners can irritate the lining of the bladder and cause spasms. Whatever you do, don't punish you child for having accidents, it will only make the problem worse.