When bedwetting becomes a problem in your home, what do you do? Often times when a child is wetting his or her bed, the reason is due either to an undiagnosed medical condition or due to psychological effects. As a parent, you will want to find out what is happening with your child so that you can stop bedwetting. Unfortunately, there are things that prevent many parents from trying to determine what causes their child’s bedwetting. Some of the things that stop parents from helping their children include:
- Shame (parents worry that a child’s bedwetting will reflect badly on them while children may be reluctant to speak with a pediatrician about a problem that is embarrassing for them).
- Misconceptions about bed wetting
- Time (some parents may be reluctant to take the time to help a child, assuming that bedwetting is a normal childhood ailment and will be resolved by itself)
- Anger (parents may feel frustrated or angry with the problem and this may make them think of the problem as unimportant)
Now you will have the tools and knowledge to help your child overcome bedwetting. Thanks to the fact that the posts are organized into tips, you can easily read a tip or two at a time, in your spare time, and try several ideas that may be effective in stopping bedwetting. Plus, in this blog you will be given the facts about bedwetting, and the latest research and information you need to make educated choices that can help your child stop wetting the bed.
Before we start to consider some of the things that can be done to stop bedwetting in its tracks, we need to discuss the very idea of bedwetting. Often bedwetting in children occurs at night for children who have no trouble or little trouble controlling their bladder during the day. This means that for these children, bedwetting makes bedtime a terrible time. Rather than being a time of stories and rest, bedtime becomes a time of conflict and stress for both parent and child.
Bedwetting is not a rare problem. Experts think that five to seven million children in this country wet the bed at least occasionally. The older children get, the less likely they are to wet the bed, as children outgrow the problem at a rate of roughly 15% per year.
However, this means that 1% of older teenagers, and 20% of children between the ages of six and five will still wet their bed regularly.
Bedwetting creates stress for the entire family. Parents may be frustrated and fatigued by the washing of sheets, drying of mattresses, and reassurances that follow each incident of bedwetting.
The medical term for bedwetting is Enuresis and it is a serious subject for medical research. Researchers have found that a few basic causes of bed wetting seem to be the culprit for most sufferers of Enuresis. Among medical causes, ailments such as urinary tract infections, allergies, diabetes, cell anemia and sleep disorders are often the culprit.
Since bedwetting is often the first sign of these problems, it is a good idea to get your child checked out for these conditions. In addition, researchers have found that psychological reasons such as stress, upset, and trauma often contribute to bedwetting.
Children who wet the bed for any reason often suffer needlessly, and this suffering is the best reason to get your child help for Enuresis. Children who wet the bed often suffer from low self-esteem, withdrawal, stress, fear, and other problems. These children may suffer from sleeplessness because they fear or are embarrassed by what happens when they sleep.
A child with Enuresis is often teased by others and may feel dirty by the smell of urine about them. The child may even avoid others out of fear of ridicule. At the very least, fun childhood activities such as camp, sleep overs, and camping may be made into traumatic rather than happy events for the bedwetting child.
Many parents wonder whether they should seek help for bedwetting medication. After all, despite the problems of bedwetting, many doctors still recommend patience and time as the best way to resolve bedwetting, as many children overcome the problem with no extra help.
Of course, many children does not mean all children, and telling an anxious child that he or she will wake up dry “someday” is not terribly reassuring for anyone. In general, there are a few signs that you should seek help for bedwetting:
- You child asks for help. If your child thinks that bed wetting is enough of a problem that they need help with it, then bedwetting is serious enough to demand some sort of remedy. Period.
- Your child has suddenly developed a problem after having no problems staying dry before. Often, this is a sign of some problem and should be investigated.
- Your child acts out or has problems with others (teasing or lack of friends) as a result of bedwetting.
- Your child avoids normal activities that they like (camping, going out) because of bedwetting.
- Child is bed wetting regularly after eight years old and the problem is causing distress.
- Bedwetting is causing problems in the household.
If any of the following apply, then consider the following bedwetting solutions – you are sure to find solutions to try for you and your child!
Initial Tips For How To Stop Bedwetting
There are some tips you will want to adopt right away in order to deal with bedwetting treatment in your household:
Work on Sensitivity
One of the biggest impacts of bedwetting on your child is an emotional one, so you should work on making sure that your household is sensitive to your child’s situation. No one at home should tease your child or make them feel terrible about their bedwetting. The more teased a child is about bedwetting, the more difficult it will be for the child to overcome the problem.
The older a child is, the more ashamed they may be of wetting the bed, and the more important it will be to stay level-headed and calm to prevent shaming the child. Shaming will only result in trauma and may even make bedwetting worse.
Watch your own sensitivity levels.
It is not just siblings and other children that need to be considered. Parents often inadvertently are insensitive to their child’s bedwetting. They are frustrated by the laundry that must be done and are sometimes even angered by having so many sheets stained or even ruined by urine.
On a rushed morning, dealing with urine-soaked sheets before dashing off to work can be frustrating, but it is crucial not to lose your temper. Even if you manage to be calm most of the time, one outburst about bedwetting will linger in your child’s mind and make them feel ashamed.
If you find that you have no time to deal with sheets and clean-up in the morning, strip the sheets and leave them for later. If you are angry by the cost of bed linens, consider buying less expensive sheets in bulk for a while to reduce costs for yourself. Keep rags and other clean up items (deodorizer and cleaner) in the child’s room for fast cleaning.
Work on reducing your stress levels when it comes to bed wetting, and you are less likely to make an unfortunate comment from pure stress.
Throughout this blog, you will be able to educate yourself about the facts of bedwetting. However, you will want to share what you have learned with others in your household. If you have several children, you need to be aware that siblings will often tease a brother or sister who “still wets the bed.” Letting these children know that Enuresis is a condition can help them be more sensitive towards their sibling while measures are taken to prevent bedwetting.
Educate your child
For the child affected by Enuresis, being told the facts about bed wetting can be a big help. Children often hear misconceptions about bedwetting boys or bwedwetting girls from other children. Myths such as “only babies wet the bed” can be hurtful to your child and can make him or her feel as though there is something “wrong” with them.
Often, explaining that Enuresis is an actual condition and talking about the remedies doctors have come up for it can help persuade your child that bedwetting is curable and a common problem. That way, your child can focus on resolving the problem rather than worry about the embarrassment they feel.
Visit a Doctor
Since some bedwetting is caused by undiagnosed medical conditions such as diabetes or allergies, it makes sense to take your child to a doctor to be checked out. If there is a doctor in your area who is known for treating children with Enuresis, so much the better. In either case, ruling out medical problems can be a big relief. If a medical problem is causing your child to wet the bed, coping with the problem will also generally resolve the Enuresis.
Evaluate how much of a problem bedwetting is in your family and how often it happens. Frequent bedwetting that causes many tears and embarrassment or even arguments in your household may need more aggressive treatment than bedwetting that occurs once in a while and results in only some extra laundry.
Different types of bedwetting demand different approaches
Also, be sure to differentiate between primary and secondary Enuresis. Primary nocturnal Enuresis is almost never caused by an underlying medical problem. Secondary nocturnal Enuresis means that a child has had control of his or her bladder but has begun wetting the bed.
In these cases, it is especially important to have the child seen by a good pediatrician, as almost all cases of secondary Enuresis are caused by an underlying problem (psychological or physical) and so responds very well to treatment.
Make it less stressful
Once you have evaluated the bedwetting in your household, you can develop a plan of action. Since you will be learning many tips that you can apply to your plan in the upcoming pages, your plan here is basically a contingency plan. On a paper, write down what your child should do when he or she wets the bed.
Ideally, your child should contact you, and then you should take steps to clean up. Share the plan with your child so that when an accident happens, your child can put the plan into action rather than being ashamed and trying to get your attention.
There are also a few things you can do to make bedwetting less stressful. Putting special sheets on your child’s bed, for example, can make clean-up much easier. Keeping extra sheets and blankets by your child’s room can also make clean-up much faster, especially in a busy household. Even small things you can do to make bedwetting less stressful will allow you and your child to focus on resolving the problem rather than worry about clean up.
This blog is dedicated to finding and then providing solutions about how to best help and treat the child that wets the bed. As you continue with this blog, you will find many additional tips for small things that can be done to help make bed wetting less stressful in your home.
Consider whether there really is a problem. Although we often expect kids to grow up fast today, the fact is that occasional bedwetting up to age three is still considered “normal” by most experts – children at this age are still simply learning to do basic things like use the washroom and control their bladder. Even kids up to age five may have an occasional bed wetting “accident” and this should not be a cause for concern. Many experts consider children over five who wet the bed regularly to have nocturnal Enuresis. In many cases, this condition tends to run in families and can last well into teenage years.
Before you start worrying unduly about bed wetting, consider the age of your child. If your child is very young, it may simply take a few months or a year to resolve the issue.
Many children have nighttime accidents until they are five or even older. If your child is older (six, seven, or older), consider whether anyone else in the family suffered from similar bedwetting problems in childhood.
Was there something that helped?
Sometimes, just seeing Enuresis as a childhood ailment or a condition in the family that is always resolved eventually can help soothe the frazzled parent and the embarrassed child.
You need to consider the frequency of problems as well. A child who wets the bed after watching a scary movie or before a big day may be less worrisome than the older child who does not seem to be able to sleep through a dry night.
Once you have calmed down, take action.
Many of the above tips are intended to get parents and children more comfortable with the bed wetting and accidents that occur when a child is trying to cope with Enuresis.
This is because bedwetting is such a stressful and emotional issue – in fact, some polls have suggested that besides divorce and family conflict, it is one of the most stressful issues for families. Learning to deal with the problem calmly, then, is a big priority.
However, parents should not just allow themselves to be placated into taking no action at all. The fact is, bed wetting can still be a nuisance and a problem for your child, and there are many solutions out there. Once your family has learned to deal with the problem in a level-headed way, do encourage your family to seek solutions rather than wait for the problem to go away on its own. There are many solutions out there that can help your child, so that your son or daughter do not suffer needlessly.
Don’t let it become a big deal.
Of course, you want to help your child stop wetting the bed so that they can enjoy a comfortable sleep with no embarrassment in the morning, but be careful that you desire to help does not come across as a sign that there is something wrong. Don’t make bedwetting – an un-dangerous condition – become a big issue at your house.
Keep things low-key
Make sure that the approach to bed wetting is a low-key one. Point out that it is not a child’s fault and that it usually means that a child simply needs to keep growing up – there is nothing abnormal about it. It often helps if the child knows that others in the family have experienced bedwetting and have grown out of it.
Also, make sure that any treatments or remedies used are offered in a low-key, non-threatening way. There is no need to keep stressing the child’s bed wetting throughout the day. Offer some therapy during the day but allow the child to play and just enjoy being a kid.
Let the child tell you when he or she has wet the bed.
If your child wets the bed, make sure that siblings or other well-intentioned members of the household don’t announce “Johnny wet the bed -again.” This just leads to shaming.
Instead, it is often helpful to have a quiet time in the morning when your child can tell you himself or herself. Having a system (such as a calendar where the child marks wet and dry nights) can make it easier for the child to approach you, as there is a routine for sharing this information.
Let the child help.
If it will help your child feel less embarrassed, let him or her help clean up. He or she can tidy up the pillows or fold the sheets. In some cases, this can make the child feel less inept and babyish, if they can be entrusted with a grownup chore. Plus, if they can help clean the bed they may feel in control of a small part of their bedwetting.
Do not make cleaning up a punishment, but rather offer it as a way to make the child more comfortable. A comment such as “would you like to put the pillowcases on the pillows to make your bed more comfortable?” makes it clear that the child is not being punished for wetting the bed.
Stay alert for bigger problems
In the big scheme of things, bed wetting is not a big problem. Your child is not in any danger of serious injury or harm if he or she occasionally or even regularly loses control of their bladder at night. To a child, however, it may not seem like a small problem. For this reason, as a parent, you must remain alert for signs of bigger problems.
If your child’s bedwetting causes them to feel so ashamed or upset that their regular lie is affected, then that is a serious problem. If their schoolwork is affected, then their bed wetting may affect their development as well. If children are bullying or teasing your child to the point that social activities are a problem, then your child may experience alarming signs of stress and depression. In any of these cases, swift action is needed to ensure that your child stays safe and happy.
If your child shows any of the following symptoms, he or she may be struggling more than you know and should be taken to a doctor or pediatrician to get help sorting out the emotions he or she could be felling:
- Sudden and big changes in appetite (eats a lot less or far more)
- Fearful or withdrawn with others
- Does not show interest in regular activities
- Does not spend time with others and does not want to spend time with others
- Cries, gets angry or is very quiet often
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of control of bladder during the day
- Grades dramatically worsen
- Bruising on the body or favorite toys are broken (may indicate bullying or self-destructive behavior)
If you notice these problems, you will want to seek more aggressive treatment for the bedwetting and you will want to visit a doctor or counselor to help your child deal with the problems caused by bed wetting.
Make sure that no medication is causing the problem.
Check the side effects and directions on your child’s medication. If your child is taking any medications that cause extreme drowsiness or an urgent need to urinate, the medications may be causing the problem. Medications that make your child very tired may simply not allow your child’s body to wake him or her up in time to go to the bathroom.
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about any medication your child is taking and ask whether the substances may add to the bedwetting problem. Of course, your child may need medication that does not help his or her bed wetting, but in some cases doses or medications can be changed in order to prevent such side effects.
Make sure that your child has easy access to a bathroom.
A bright night light and a bathroom that is easy to access quickly at night will go a long way towards making sure that your child can get to the bathroom in time. Not every household can arrange to provide a bathroom near a child’s bedroom, but consider sleeping arrangements closely and consider rearrangements that could make nighttime bathroom trips much easier. Even something as simple as moving your child’s bed closer to the bedroom door can save a few seconds at night, reducing accidents.
Get your child to go to sleep a bit earlier.
Children who are tired may have a hard time waking up for anything – including a full bladder. If your child gets the sleep he or she needs, they will not be so overtired that they will be unable to wake up.
Look for psychological triggers.
Emotional states often add to bedwetting or even trigger it. If your child is undergoing an upset (divorce in the family, death in the family, bullying, moving, conflicts with siblings) this may contribute to bed wetting. In these cases, you can either wait for the child to adjust (at which point the bedwetting may cease too) or you can have your child see a pediatrician or child therapist. Sometimes, even talking about the problems can help, so be sure to discuss anything that seems to be bothering your child.
Have Your child self-monitor
Once you develop a system for dealing with bed wetting, or once you and your family start trying to control bedwetting in some way, it is useful to have a child check off on a calendar which nights were completely dry, on which nights a bathroom was reached successfully, and which nights were wet. Keeping track lets your child get involved in the solution process, which will make your child feel more confident. Once your child sees any improvement, he or she will likely be encouraged to further success.
Care for your child’s skin.
Bed wetting has few serious side effects, but one of the physical discomforts it may cause is skin problems. Urine is a mix of fluid and waste chemicals from the body. When left on skin for a few hours in the night, it can irritate. Skin may appear red initially, and may turn sore and flaky if the skin is not treated. The skin will also thicken if the irritation is not treated, eventually turning wrinkled and pale. Although not dangerous, this type of skin irritation can be very painful for a child.
Skin problems can affect any child who wets the bed, but the problem is more aggravated in those who wet the bed often and in those who wear absorbent products to collect the urine. Genitals and buttocks can be affected. In those who wear absorbent underpants, the leg bands and waist bands are often the most irritated.
Once bedwetting causes is resolved, the rash and skin irritation it causes will disappear as well. Until your child has stopped wetting the bed, though, you can try to reduce the skin irritation the problem causes. To prevent skin rashes and soreness:
- Make sure the child washes each morning, especially after a “wet” night. The skin affected by the area should be especially well washed using a mild and moisturizing soap.
- Encourage your child to rinse the buttocks and genital area when changing absorbent underpants and after waking up after having wet the bed.
- Use a very soft sponge – not a harsh washcloth – on any irritated skin area
- Some parents find that applying petroleum ointment to affected areas and areas affected by urine is helpful
- Choose correct-fitting absorbent undergarments, if your child uses them. Make sure that the waist band and the leg bands are not too snug. Choose the most absorbent type you can and look for a brand that offers a top layer that keeps moisture away from the skin.
- Talk to your pediatrician if skin irritation continues. He or she may be able to offer a medicated cream to soothe sore skin.
Get your child’s consent.
As you continue to read through this blog, you will find many tips for dealing with bed wetting. Some of these will seem like great ideas to you and you will likely want to put them into effect right away. However, you should be careful about choosing bedwetting solutions, for any remedy you choose needs to have your child’s consent.
Many well-intentioned parents rush out to buy the latest gadget or device for treating bed wetting or for making it less of a problem only to be horrified to learn that their children want nothing to do with the expensive method.
It is important not to force a method on a child. It is completely ineffective as in some cases (such as behavior modification) you actually need your child’s enthusiasm and participation for a method to work. In other cases, forcing a bedwetting remedy on a child will be ineffective and can actually lead to more bed wetting because of all the stress caused by the “supposed remedy.”
Also, in saying that they don’t “like” a remedy children may be trying to say something more – such as that the remedy is uncomfortable or causes more embarrassment that the bedwetting itself.
Work with your child in resolving bedwetting.
When you approach a child with a way or resolving bed wetting, you can often ensure a better reception by approaching the subject in a sensitive and informative way. Explain to your child what the method involves, answer any questions, and express that it may help him or her with bed wetting. Make sure that you explain whether a method is temporary, as a child will be more likely to accept something new for a little while, or on a trial basis, rather than accept something for a longer time.