It’s a difficult problem for any parent: What to do if your child just can’t seem to stop wetting the bed.
While it may be a nuisance for you, you need to remember how distressing this is for any child, particularly if it continues as they get older. They’ll often find it embarrassing, they may find it upsetting, and – depending on your reaction – they may be ashamed or think that they are “dirty”.
Of course there are many possible causes of bed wetting, and many answers to the problem. From bedwetting alarms to dietary changes, there are several techniques but the single most important thing that any parent can do is to show compassion and stay positive.
Yes, there may be an underlying cause of your child’s bed-wetting, and if it continues after the age of 5 it would be wise to consult a doctor. But, whether a physical condition is the cause of the problem or not, your reaction to it can have a huge effect on your child – for better or worse.
Bed wetting can be linked to emotional distress, and wet sheets are more common if a child is upset, confused or angry. So, by showing anger, distress or disappointment at continued episodes of bed-wetting, you may exacerbate the problem.
What should you do instead? There are two things you should try to do, however annoyed you might feel:
1. Respond to your child with compassion every time they have an accident. Show sympathy, offer kind words, hug them and reassure them with positive language.
It may help to remind yourself that they don’t intend to wet the bed – they can’t help it. Take deep breaths and practice relaxation techniques if you find the problem frustrating, so that you won’t show that frustration to your child.
2. Give them praise for any and every small accomplishment.
If they have been advised to go on a special diet praise them for keeping to it. Respond enthusiastically if they ask for a glass of water instead of a drink like coco cola, which would be more likely to cause bed wetting. When they go to the toilet right before bedtime, give them a gold star.
Even small steps deserve attention, and your praise will reinforce the behaviors that lead to dry nights.
While bed wetting is distressing, with planning and positivity it can be stopped in time. So try not to despair as you wash yet another set of wet bedding. Simply remind yourself that by being compassionate you stand a better chance of solving the problem quickly.
Katie Saxon works for Starr Medical, a company that provides products to help children to overcome bed-wetting.