Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis in medical speak, is considered a natural part of a child’s development. The good news for parents is that it is not typically a sign of an underlying psychological, emotional, or medical problem. The other good news is that kids eventually grow out of it.
That doesn’t mean that it is any less stressful for parents or kids alike when it does happen. Children are embarrassed about it, particularly when they plan to have a sleepover at a friend’s house or go away to camp. Parents too often feel like there is nothing they can do to stop it. Thankfully, though, with some reassurance, emotional support, understanding, and some simple solutions for bed wetting you can help your child get through these trying episodes.
Is Bedwetting Common?
During potty training years, many children wet the bed on occasion, or even every single night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, as many as seven million kids in the U.S. wet the bed on a regular basis. HealthyKids.org puts it at about 13 percent in children six years old and five percent in ten year olds. The important thing here is not necessarily the specific statistics, but the fact that it is quite common; even more so, if bed wetting runs in the family. Most pediatricians don’t even consider bedwetting a problem until after the child’s seventh birthday.
Why Does Bedwetting Happen?
Physically speaking, bedwetting is a sign of the body’s immaturity. Because bladder control involves a coordination of nerves, muscles, and the brain, it is indeed a complicated process. Therefore, it takes time for children to learn and develop these bladder control skills. That said, if bedwetting continues past the age of seven, then it’s time to have a physician determine if there is an underlying medical condition, like a urinary tract obstruction, that is causing the bedwetting.
Solutions for Bedwetting
1) Reassurance - Because your child is likely embarrassed and uncomfortable about his bed wetting, it’s important to reassure him that bedwetting is a normal part of growing up. Tell him that it will eventually stop. This video offers tips on how to go about talking to your child about his or her bedwetting.
2) Reminders – Just before bedtime, remind your child to use the bathroom. This may limit both the frequency of bed wets during the night and the amount of liquid wet.
3) Fluid intake - Although it is important that your child is hydrated, urge your child to drink more fluids during the day and less at night. Thwart the requests for last minute bedtime drinks when you can.
4) Rewards - Some parents and children find that using a motivational system is helpful. For example, dry nights stickers or a snack can work well.
5) The “big kid” talk - Speak to your child about the advantages of not wetting the bed. Things like not having to wear diapers and being able to participate in sleep overs are things that should appeal to your child.
6) Bed wetting alarms - In extreme bedwetting cases or as a last resort, a “bell and pad” alarm might do the trick. With this system, an alarm sounds when your child’s pajamas or sheets become wet. Over time, this can teach your child to awaken to go to the bathroom before wetting the bed.
7) Keep your child’s bedwetting private - Last, but not least, don’t hang out your child’s dirty laundry. What is meant by this is don’t talk about your child’s bedwetting outside of the family (other than doctors of course). It will only make you child feel more embarrassed than he or she already is.
While most bedwetting episodes under the age of seven are normal, there are times when you should consult your physician because they may be indicative of an underlying condition. These include if your child:
- had been consistently dry at night for six months, then begins wetting the bed
- has swollen feet or ankles
- is drinking more than usual
- wets his or her pants during the day
- is urinating frequently (day or night)
- is complaining of a burning feeling upon urination
- begins snoring at night
Coping with Your Child’s Bedwetting
Though you probably already know this, your child’s bedwetting is not a reason for punishment. Your child isn’t doing it on purpose, and certainly cannot help it. Be patient, as “this too shall pass”. Most importantly, be understanding and empathetic to your child until the “dry days” are upon you and your child.
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