When it comes to sleepovers, some kids who experience bedwetting are hesitant to
spend the night at a friend's house or have someone spend the night at their house.
Hosting a sleepover with other kids who wet the bed can be a great way to make your
child feel better about bedwetting.
Child psychologist Dr. Susan Bartell says feeling that they are missing out on the
fun their friends enjoy can be very difficult for children. "It can be very upsetting
for kids because they feel a combination of sad, that they have to miss out because
they're afraid they will wake up wet, angry with their body for not cooperating
with them and that there is something wrong with them that is not wrong with other
kids," Dr. Bartell says. "The unpredictability makes it difficult for them to figure
out how to handle it and makes them feel they don't really have good control over
their body. Often they blame it on themselves, rather than realizing that it's a
matter of physical maturity."
One of the major problems with nighttime bedwetting is that it is rarely talked
about. Children often feel as if they are the only ones doing it. Sleepovers and
slumber parties may feel off limits to the child who can't remain dry at night.
Debbie Schmidt, a mother of two from Portland, Ore., says her son didn't attend
many slumber parties after he reached a certain age.
"I think that this was always a concern of his," says Schmidt. "When he was younger
he didn't think about it, but when he got older he was afraid a bit of what others
would think. I learned in [Cub and Boy] Scouts that there were other boys besides
him that were [wearing absorbent products] due to problems [with] bedwetting."
Dr. Bartell stresses the importance of making kids feel like they're not alone when
it comes to bedwetting. "This can be done by talking to kids about how others have
this issue, by reading books and by talking about your own experiences with this
if possible (it can be genetic) or an older sibling's experience," she says.
According to Dr. Bartell, a sleepover like this may boost independence and self-esteem.
"It encourages separation from parents, helping a child to feel more grown up, which
is especially important for a bedwetter who may feel very babyish due to the wetting,"
says Dr. Bartell. "It teaches a child that bedwetting doesn't have to interfere
with all the fun experiences of childhood. It also helps a child learn empathy for
another child in the same position as he/she is."
Making Your Sleepover a Success
Dr. Bartell does have some cautions for parents, however. "For some kids, having
a sleepover with a peer may be good for them because they don't have to hide the
problem or feel embarrassed," says Dr. Bartell. "However, if they wake up wet and
the other kid is dry, they could still feel embarrassed. In addition, even though
the friend has the same problem, if one is dry and one is wet, it could even provoke
teasing from the friend because it's an opportunity to be on the other side."
Be proactive about situations such as this. "Talk to both kids beforehand about
role playing what might happen if one wakes up dry and the other one wet," says
Dr. Bartell. "Model and teach them supportive things to say to each other the night
before, and talk to them together about how it feels to be sharing this experience.
Remember to help them to feel confident that it will be a positive experience for
both of them and then be there first thing in the morning to monitor their interactions
and intervene supportively, if necessary."
It's also important to make sure you inform the parents of the other children what
kind of slumber party it's going to be. They may have their child on some sort of
bathroom schedule that you need to be aware of.
Other key tips to remember:
Making it Fun!
- If the children involved are older, you might want to take the low-key approach.
Leaving the GOODNITES® Underpants in an obvious spot in the bathroom and limiting
liquids in the evenings is a good reminder.
- If any of the children invited are acutely embarrassed by their bedwetting, have
the other parent slip GOODNITES® Underpants in the bottom of the child's sleeping
- Limit the children's caffeine intake and excitement before bedtime. Your last slumber
party activity should be one that is calming, such as watching a movie or doing
a quiet craft project while listening to relaxing music.
- Remember to have everyone use the bathroom before lights out.
Penny Warner is a child development educator and author of the book Slumber Parties
(Meadowbrook Press, 2000). She believes the best way to make a slumber party like
this a success is by making sure the children have a good time.
"When hosting a sleepover, it's a good idea to contact the parents of the guests
and let them know what you have planned," says Warner. "This is also a good time
to ask about bedwetting and offer to supply GOODNITES® Underpants."
Warner provides the following tips to make any slumber party at your home a blast:
- Have a treasure hunt. Hide fun objects around the house, write
clues that lead to the hidden treasures and have the kids find everything. For added
fun, make the objects ingredients to a special snack or parts to a craft. Or make
it a scavenger hunt throughout the house or yard, with teams racing to find the
- Personalize your own T-shirts. Have the kids bring white T-shirts, or provide them
with inexpensive ones. Then let them decorate and personalize the shirts with fabric
paints, puffy paints and permanent markers. Add "bling" with stick-on jewels.
- Camp out - or in! Set up tents outside if the weather is good. If not, set them
up inside and let the kids have a "Camp-In." Provide camp-style food such as hot
dogs and s'mores. Tell ghost stories around a flashlight "campfire," and sleep in
- Have a Karaoke sing-along. Rent, borrow or buy a karaoke machine, and let the kids
sing their hearts out. Videotape the performances and play them back for the audience
over popcorn and soda. Vote for the "Funniest," "Most Off-Key," "Best Imitation,"
and so on.
Holding a slumber party for children who wet the bed at night takes tact, planning
and communication. But by thinking and planning ahead, you can make sure your child
doesn't miss out on this important and enjoyable part of childhood!