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Tips for Selecting a Watch
Great for discreet reminders of important events
By: Renee Mercer, MSN, CPNP
Our most popular vibrating watches can help you with frequent reminders to use the restroom or perform other important activities on a regular schedule, and lessen the chance of embarrassing accidents. We feature several watches that work well for these needs. All watches have unique features that make them useful for reminding children, or adults, to void or perform a task - in addition to standard digital watch features (e.g., time/date, chronograph). The watches are the Vibro-Watch, and VibraLITE 3
In addition to these watches, we offer the Invisible Clock that clips onto the waistband like a pager. Lastly, we still offer a selection of beeping Timex watches that also can be used for audible reminders.
Look for these features as you select the watch that is best for you and your child. Refer to the comparison chart for viewing the specific features to help you make your selection.
Auto-Restart Countdown - Each watch has the ability to remind the child to void by alerting them repeatedly at preset intervals. The auto restart feature is important because once the watch counts down to "0" and alarms, it automatically begins to countdown again. Once the countdown mode is started, the child doesn't have to reset the alarm every interval. You can turn off the countdown mode at the end of the day and turn it back on the next morning. The Vibro-Watch, Timex, and VibraLITE can be set at intervals from 1 minute to 23 hours, the MeDose can be set for 1 minute to 99 minutes.
Independently Set Alarms - The Vibro-Watch and MeDose multi-alarm watches allow you to set independent alarm times per day. (Most watches have only one or two) This function provides flexibility in setting reminders at times other than exact intervals. The alarms allow you to set the times once and then have them repeat every day. For example, you can set the alerts at 8:35am, 10:15am, 12:10pm, 1:45pm, 3:30pm and 5:15pm to coincide with your child's school schedule and they will alarm at these times automatically every day. The Vibro-Watch allows you to set up to 12 times a day, while the MeDose is limited to 6 times a day. Independent settings are especially convenient for school-day schedules. These watches are easy to use - set the alarms once and every day they vibrate at those specific times. The Vibro-Watch and Medose vibrate for about 20 seconds.
Sound or Vibration - Vibration is an excellent solution for discreet reminders or in noisy settings. All vibrating watches are approximately the same size due to the vibrating mechanism. All have approximately the same-size watch face, approximately 1.5" in diameter, and fit a wrist 7 inches in circumference or larger. For smaller wrists, you can punch additional holes in the band or exchange the band for a child-size band purchased at a retail store (except for the Malem 12 Vibro-Watch's band featuring additional holes to fit down to 5 1/2 inches.). For children who resist wearing a wristwatch, our Invisible Clock is very small and clips on the waistband like a pager. Vibrating watches have a battery life of 2 to 12 months depending upon the frequency of alarms. The Vibro-Watch has an easy-open battery compartment which makes changing the battery more convenient than the others.
Vibratory wrist watches can be used quite successfully for timed voiding programs for children with daytime wetting problems. The vibratory watches function as a discreet reminder to the child that they need to urinate on a regular basis. Often children with daytime wetting receive very urgent messages from their bladder that do not allow them enough time to get to the bathroom and unfasten their clothing before the urine starts flowing. Many of these children will deny that they have the feeling to urinate even a few moments before the strong urge hits. Parents often feel frustrated because they ask their child regularly whether they have to use the bathroom. The child with urgency and daytime wetting will truthfully say that they don't feel that they have to use the bathroom. When they wet, sometimes within minutes, it's hard for parents not to argue that they should have gone a few minutes ago, when reminded.
A timed voiding program using a vibratory wrist watch takes the parent or teacher out of the equation. When the watch vibrates at a pre-set interval of time, the child's next behavior should be that of walking to the bathroom, whether they "feel" that they need to urinate or not. Initially rewarding the behavior of following the watch's reminder can be helpful until the new behavior is established. By independently urinating on a regular schedule, the bladder doesn't become overfull and send such urgent messages. Most children find that they can maintain dry underwear within a week or two of following a timed voiding program. Parents often ask how long their child should use the reminder wristwatch. Since each child is unique, there is not a standard answer for that. When you see that your child begins to independently toilet before the reminder or at times when the watch isn't being used, the watch can be gradually discontinued. The nice thing about vibratory watches is that the other children have no idea that the watch is doing the reminding. Since it's non-medicinal and non-invasive, using it for months or even a year is not detrimental in any way.
Be careful when starting the countdown so that the watch would never vibrate at a time when your child was incapable of following the instructions. For example, being on the bus or out at recess would not be good times for the watch to vibrate.
The Vibro-Watch and MeDose watches can be set to vibrate at specific times, irregardless of the interval. If you find that your child walks past the bathroom on their way into school at 8:30, having a reminder at 8:31 might be easy. The next reminder could come when they change classrooms for art or music at 10:15. Even though the interval of time isn't exactly 2 hours, it may be more conducive to cooperation. Another important time for a reminder is when they pack up their belongings at the end of the day. Going to the bathroom before putting on coats and starting the transition to home is beneficial. This prevents many end of the day accidents or running into the house with urine leaking.
Using watches for discreet reminders certainly aren't limited to children with voiding problems. Many adults who have difficulty remembering activities that need to be scheduled can also benefit from vibratory wrist watches. Medication reminders, self-catheterizations, glucose monitoring, carpool reminders and a myriad of other activities that should be carried out on a schedule can be more consistent through the use of a reminder watch.
Beeping (audible) watches are generally inexpensive and relatively easy to find. The disadvantage of this type of watch is (1) the beeping becomes easy to ignore, (2) it draws attention to the user, especially if it sounds in a quiet setting, and (3) teachers do not usually allow these in the classroom. For these reasons, a discreet vibratory watch is usually preferred for timed voiding.
A Note About Watch Size and Style
The actual watch face of a vibratory watch is usually larger than a typical children’s watch. The motor that the watch requires in order to vibrate necessitates that the size of the face be a certain width and depth. That said, the success of using a reminder watch is so tremendous that working with it to make it more acceptable to your child is well worth the effort. Sometimes just explaining that this watch has a specific purpose and isn’t just for the style will help your child understand how important it is to wear it everyday, whether it “matches” their attire that day or not. Simply changing the band from one that the manufacturer provides to one that the child picks may help a finicky child find that the reminder watch is more comfortable and socially acceptable. The bands that come with the vibratory watches are adjustable, one-size-fits-most. Again, if your child doesn’t fit into the “most” category, work with them to find a smaller or larger band. Some ingenious parents have had their children wear the watch around their ankle if wearing a watch on their arm is too bothersome. Also, if these types of watches are used by adults, any replacement watch band can be used.
Just getting used to wearing a watch regularly can be an adjustment for some children. Encouraging them to put it on when they get up in the morning and take it off when they go to bed at night is important. They do not need to remove it when washing their hands but should remove it when showering or swimming. Discourage them from allowing their friends to try it on. Since daytime wetting often occurs in a less structured environment, such as a weekend day, be sure they wear it everyday, not just school days. When the watch vibrates, no matter where the child is, it is important to help them follow through with the reminder. This may mean finding a bathroom in the mall or leaving a movie for a minute. It’s best not to ask them to “hold it”, but to do your best to find a bathroom as quickly as possible.
Choose a vibratory reminder watch that best suits your needs and you will find that continuous annoying verbal reminders to your child to use the bathroom will diminish. Not only will there be less tension in your family, your child will be proud of their new dry status.