How to help your child stop wetting the bed

Nocturnal enuresis, the medical term for bed-wetting, can be extremely embarrassing for your child. Often times, children who repeatedly wet the bed may feel left out socially. They may decline invitations to sleepovers, campouts, and overnight field trips simply because they are afraid of ridicule if they were to wet their bed. What can you do to help your child overcome this frustrating problem?

First, parents need to understand that children are not considered to have a bed-wetting problem until they are at least five or six years old. There are basically two bed-wetting categories. If your child is a chronic bed-wetter, meaning she wets the bed at least two or more times per month, she is considered to have primary nocturnal enuresis. Basically, she has never been able to have complete and constant control of her bladder.

She may have this problem for several reasons. Her brain may not be mature enough to signal her bladder that it is full, or her bladder may be producing more urine than she can hold. She may, also, have an unusually small bladder, or she may just be sleeping too deeply to wake up.

If your child has had complete control of her bladder for several months, and then she suddenly begins wetting the bed, she has secondary nocturnal enuresis. She could have a medical problem such as constipation, which would put pressure on her bladder, or a urinary tract infection. Her bed-wetting may be caused by an emotional or stressful change in her life, however, such as a move, death in the family, or a divorce.

If your child has secondary nocturnal enuresis, your doctor can help you treat any medical conditions that may be causing your child’s bed-wetting. If the bed-wetting is linked to an emotional upheaval, time may take care of it for her. However, if her stress continues, you may want to set up some counseling sessions with a child psychologist or family counselor. Once you have solved or managed the root problem, your child’s bed-wetting should diminish and eventually disappear.

It is important to remember that your child is not wetting the bed on purpose, and you should not punish her. Although it is frustrating to you, it is even more miserable for her. Be patient, and don’t ridicule or make fun of her. Keep in mind that bed-wetting can be hereditary. If you are aware of an adult family member who once suffered from bed-wetting, it may be a good idea to have that person talk with your child about what they went through. Have them focus on the fact that they didn’t wet the bed forever, and that there is hope for your child.

Do not let your child hear you discussing her bed-wetting with other people, even other family members. She may already have socializing issues, and you will compound her problems by not respecting her privacy.

You do need to talk with her about some things you both can do to help her conquer her bed-wetting. Help her to take responsibility for herself by letting her change her own clothes. Have her strip the bed when necessary. You can help her do this, but don’t treat it as anything other than another one of her chores. Do not refer to it as punishment! She should not be punished for something which she can not control.

You should limit her liquid intake after supper. You don’t want her to become dehydrated, however, so it is important that she drink plenty of water and other liquids earlier in the day. Try to plan supper early enough so that she has several hours before her bedtime. Give her water and/or milk to drink with her supper instead of caffeinated drinks, and be sure that she goes to the bathroom immediately before she goes to bed.

Once you’ve realized the approximate time that your child generally wets the bed, you can wake her a little earlier than that every night and take her to the bathroom. Although this hasn’t been proven to stop children from bed-wetting, it can condition them to use the bathroom at night until their bladders become more mature.

Some parents resort to bed-wetting alarms, which have sensors that are placed into a child’s underwear. The alarms sound when the child begins to wet her pants. Once you hear the alarm sound, you should wake your child, if she is still asleep, and help her to the bathroom. If you are going to use a bed-wetting alarm, it is important that you use it consistently every night.

If none of these methods seem to help, your doctor may want to prescribe a medication. Some medicines relax the bladder, while others simply signal the body to produce less urine. Results may only be short-term, however, and your child may resume bed-wetting if the medication is discontinued.

Whatever method you try, you need to keep your doctor informed as to your child’s progress. He can give you further information to help you and your child manage and eventually eradicate her bed-wetting problem.

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