Bedwetting - Children and bedwetting

Bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis is very common among children.

This is where your child may experience wetness during the night. To some parents, this may be a cause of worry but take note that this is just a part of your child’s developmental stage; most children who wet the bed overcome this condition without any need for treatment as they grow older. There is no cause for alarm unless your child still suffers this at the age of seven and above.

Children are very observant and aware of their environment. They are especially sensitive to what is happening within their peer group and how they fit in. When they realise that they are different from their peers and are suffering from something that their friends have outgrown, they may feel ashamed and embarrassed. This could result in them becoming withdrawn and scared. It is helpful to be aware of these feelings and encourage your child to talk with you about them.

Physically there shouldn’t be anything wrong with your child. However, if he does complain of pain when urinating, there could be cause for concern and this should be checked by your doctor.

Sometimes bedwetting follows a period of stress in your child’s life. Talk to him and see how things are going at school or if something has happened to upset him. Take into account any changes that may be taking place within the home. The arrival of a new sibling or marital tension between the parents, can all contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. If you can address these factors, you may not need to even mention the bedwetting with your child as solving the cause of the stress may well eliminate the bedwetting.

Changes in the daily routine or an increase in activities could also contribute to your child’s enuresis. If he is getting overtired from school and extramural activities then he’ll no doubt sleep like a log and not be able to rouse himself to respond to his full bladder and go to the toilet. Make sure that if your child is super tired that you have reminded him to go to the toilet before going to bed. You could also place a mattress protector or Brolly Sheet on the bed “just in case”.

If you notice that your child has become withdrawn from his peers and quieter than usual, then you need to ensure that you sit down and talk with him. He is still young and will need your help and guidence to help him deal with the bedwetting. He won’t be able to cope without your support. He needs to understand and be reassured that he can overcome the bedwetting and that it is not something of which he should be ashamed or afraid. He also needs to know that it is not his fault. Remind him that not all kids are good at all things and show him what he is good at. Praise him for his other accomplishments. It is important to maintain a child’s self esteem, especially when they are struggling with something.

Help your child understand bedwetting and explain that it is a normal part of growing up. Once you have had these discussions put some systems in place to help him deal with the situation. (preparations for staying dry at night.)

Things to keep in mind:

Bedwetting in a child who's never been dry is NOT caused by; laziness or rebelliousness – no child wants to wet the bed, it is too humiliating. Sleeping deeply (this can just make bladder training more of a challenge).
It is HARDLY EVER caused by; a small bladder, hidden illness or being emotionally upset.

Bedwetting is MOST COMMONLY caused by; difficulty arousing from sleep in response to a full bladder, the production of more urine at night than the bladder can store and even a family history of bedwetting.
Source: The Dry Night, Continence Foundation of Australia.
Approaches to avoid

Don’t criticise, humiliate or belittle your child for being a ‘baby’. Night-time bladder control is a process of maturation. All efforts, no matter how small, should be praised.

Don’t punish your child by making them stay in their wet sheets or getting them to wash the soiled bed linen, for example. If your child is anxious, they are less likely to stay dry at night.

Don’t deprive your child of fluids in the evening. Make sure they drink plenty during the day so that they are not very thirsty in the evening.

Don’t talk about your child’s ‘problem’ to other people when the child is present, as this can make them feel ashamed and embarrassed.

Things you can do - preparations for stay dry at night

Be proactive and positive, talk with your child about enuresis and help prepare the child and the bed to help deal with the effects. Use a mattress protector, Brolly sheet and have a spare pair of pyjamas on hand for the child to change into after he has had an accident.

Make sure your child goes to the toilet before bed.

Give praise and encouragement when your child has had a successful night, i.e. has not wet the bed. Start a progress chart and even introduce a rewards chart.

Let your child know that you still love and adore them and are not angry or disappointed with them because they wet the bed. The less stress and anxiety your child has the easier it will be to overcome the problem.

Used with permission Brolly Sheets Ltd