5 handy tricks that might help your child stop wetting the bed
Many children struggle to stay dry at night – and bed-wetting among school-age kids is actually much more common than you might think.
While most children are able to hold their urine all night by age five, many children deal with this (to themselves) embarrassing condition for much longer. And while the percentage drops steadily as children get older, as many as one in 20 10-year-olds still have nighttime "accidents," according to American doctor and author of "Waking up Dry", Howard Bennett.
In his book, Bennett explains that for the majority of children suffering from this, the problem is neurological. Meaning that your child's brain isn't sending signals to his bladder to hold his urine while he's sleeping. "It reflexively empties while he's asleep, just as it did when he was a baby," says Dr. Bennett.
On top of this, genetics play their part too, the expert explains, as, statistically, three out of four children who wet the bed have a sibling, parent, aunt, uncle or cousin who also wet the bed during childhood. And occasionally, as many of us have no doubt experienced, upheaval, like a move, a new baby or a divorce, can also trigger a sudden onset of bed-wetting.
Many feel ashamed to discuss the problem with their GP, Bennett explains, thinking they somehow failed at potty training, or maybe refrain from doing so as to not embarrass their children in "public". Punishing or shaming your children will however never solve the problem, warns experts, as bed-wetting is primarily neurological, and not something the child does on purpose.
Instead, you could try one (or all) of the following tips if your child is still getting the bed wet at night:
1. Explain to them what is happening
Children who wet the bed might feel upset that they are not able to control their own bodies. Explain to them that this is because their brain can't control their bladder when they sleep yet, and that it is not something that happens because they are babyish or abnormal in any way.
2. Bed alarm
Ask you GP about these, or do some research online. Bed alarms generally works by your child wearing a very sensitive wetness sensor in his underwear or pyjama bottoms. The sensor connects to the alarm, which goes off when the child pees, waking him. Although your child has already wet the bed, over time the alarm trains his brain to wake earlier and earlier. The idea is that, eventually, his brain will wake him up at the first drop so he can stop the flow.
3. Rule out health problems
Have your GP or health nurse screen your child for any medical conditions that could cause bed-wetting (Note: These are rare). Same goes for a child who has been dry at night but suddenly starts wetting; she may have a bladder infection. Another condition that can cause bed-wetting is if your child suffers from constipation.
4. Encourage your child to use the toilet regularly during daytime hours
If a bladder is not emptied completely and often during the day, it might respond by completely letting go come night-time.
5. Make sure your child is ready
Forcing children into trying to stop wetting the bed before they are really ready will probably leave both you and your child frustrated. Instead, talk about it and wait for your child to feel motivated to try, it will probably be an easier process then.
Did YOUR child wet the bed until after they were school age? How did they stop? Did you try any of the advice above or did they just stop when they were ready? Let us know in an e-mail at Trine.Jensen@Herfamily.ie