When Anxiety Gives You the Feeling Like You have to Pee Right After You Pee
Anxiety can do lots of things to our children’s bodies. It can make their heart race. It can make their stomach hurt. But many people don’t realize that it can also create the feeling like you have to pee right after you pee! This can range from a slightly annoying issue to a debilitating sensation that can wreak havoc in a child’s life.
[To watch my Kids Youtube video on this topic scroll to the bottom]
It is always good to rule out medical origins with any issue and this one is no different. If your child already received a clean bill of health, you might feel stumped. So, the biggest question might be why would anxiety give you the feeling like you have to pee right after you pee?
There are a few reasons for this.
When your child is constantly stressed out, their muscles are tense too. All these tense muscles impact the sensation of the bladder. Tense muscles can put pressure on the bladder giving a child the sensation that they have to pee…again and again!
Anxiety can make a kid hyper-aware of everything going on around them – including what is going on inside of them! They become overly aware of their breathing, their heart rate and yup – their need to pee.
Unfortunately, this hyper-awareness of the bladder can give you the feeling that you have to pee right after you pee.
Fight or Flight Response
Our anxious kids are often in a constant state of fight or flight. Unfortunately, when the body thinks it is running from a tiger, it likes to abandon ship on all other non-essential duties, including toileting. That is why bodily fluids like to evacuate the building when we are running for the hills.
When our kids are not in a full-blown crisis, but their body is in high alert, the urgency to pee and get rid of other non-essential bodily tasks becomes a priority.
There are a couple of side dishes to this problem. Here are a few of them:
Feeling of Being Trapped
A common anxiety theme is the fear of being trapped. This is a common fear with kids who panic in public. When you worry you won’t have access to a bathroom, your anxiety does a cruel thing – it gives you the feeling like you have to pee right after you pee, you know, just in case.
Fear of Losing Control and Being Embarrassed
Another common anxiety theme is the fear of losing control. This is often tied to a fear of throwing up in public but can also include the fear of having an accident. When you are already hypersensitive to your bodily functions, the fear of having an accident can be extremely high. To avoid any possibility of an accident, kids often become obsessed with emptying their bladders.
Fear of Getting Up in the Middle of the Night
When the urgency to pee over and over again only happens at bedtime, you might be dealing with some bedtime fears. Many anxious kids don’t want to get up at night. They are scared of the dark and of break-ins.
Because they know they won’t want to get up again once they go to sleep, kids with anxiety will be extra sensitive to emptying their bladder over and over again.
WHAT TO DO TO HELP
Educate Your Child
Teach your child why their bladder is giving them a false alarm. Let them know that the sensation is real, but the urgency is not.
If you want help educating your child, I am here to help out! I’ve made a whole Kids YouTube video on this topic for them to watch. Scroll to the bottom of the page to watch.
I teach kids to do the opposite of what their anxiety or OCD wants them to do. This is no different. If your Bully wants you to pee all the time – you can show him who is boss! Teach your kids to play the pee game, where they ignore their false alarms and only pee on a set schedule. This will train their brain to ignore those hypersensitive signals that their bladder is full when in reality it is not.
Address the Core Fear Underneath
Some kid are just super sensitive to their bladder but like with most anxiety and OCD issues there might be a deeper problem.
If your child is worried about being trapped and not being able to pee – you want to address those incorrect assumptions. Problem-solve with your kid and talk about what they can do in various situations if a need arises.
If your child is worried about losing control talk to them about #1 – the likelihood of that happening (depending on their age) and #2 – what is the worst that can happen.
Sometimes accepting the worst-case scenario and having a plan for what to do is enough to alleviate some anxiety around it. Also, assess whether you are dealing with Social Anxiety. A core theme with social anxiety is the fear of embarrassment and criticism. If Social Anxiety is at the root of the issue, teaching them skills through my online Crush Social Anxiety class.
If your child is worried about the dark or bad guys – address their fears. I have a zillion articles, podcast episodes and YouTube videos on this topic. I also have a whole online class to help parents help their anxious kids called How to Teach Your Kids to Crush Anxiety.
Keep the Conversation Going
As with any anxiety or OCD issue you want to keep the dialogue open. When your child has to pee for the umpteenth time – ask them if they really need to go or if their body (or Mr. Bossy – if you’ve named the anxiety/OCD) is having a false alarm.
The more you bring about awareness, the quicker the problem will be addressed.
Sometimes it can be helpful to offer a challenge in these moments. You can say, “It seems to me like anxiety (Mr. Bossy) is giving you a false alarm. Would you like to take a challenge and hold it for 30 more minutes?” I find offering fun incentives often encourages kids to take the challenge when they are reluctant.
Here is my Kids Youtube video to help them directly:
Do you know a parent, friend or family member who has a child who has to constantly pee? Share this article and video to them!