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How to Build Self-Esteem in Children with Fun Activities

A child shown from above in a striped shirt and apron painting on a canvas

Last Updated: 02/10/21
Read Time: 3 minutes

If there’s one thing children all over the world have in common, it’s play. It’s a child’s first language and, often, their first way of making sense of the world around them. “Play is the child’s natural medium of communication,” says Dr. Garry Landreth, founder of the Center for Play Therapy at University of North Texas.

“It is a complete way children can communicate their emotional, physical, mental and social well-being. Children use play to express their desires and their apprehensions.” So how can playful activity help a child learn more about bedwetting?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the main reasons children wet the bed at night include having a bladder that has not developed enough to hold urine for a full night and not yet being able to realize that their bladder is full so they can wake up and use the toilet.

That said, a child’s nighttime wetting often stops as a child’s body grows and matures. The AAP reports that by the teen years, most kids will have stopped wetting the bed, and only one in 100 adults experiences nighttime wetting.

According to Dr. Landreth, if you sit down with your children for 30 minutes of safe and accepting play, you can learn a lot about how they feel about nighttime wetting. Plus, talking with your child about wetting may help them feel better about it and themselves — reducing worry and embarrassment.

Try these self-esteem activities for kids. By spending time together and having fun, you and your child can learn more about and help manage your child’s nighttime wetting:

  1. Emergency Flashlight. Sometimes children are hesitant to get up at night to use the bathroom because they’re afraid of the dark. Help your child feel more comfortable by decorating a flashlight together that they can use when they wake up.

    Materials Needed:

    • A child-safe flashlight
    • Glue
    • Fun art supplies such as glitter, markers, paint pens, ribbons or stickers

    What to Do:

    If you don’t already have an extra flashlight in the house, shopping for one can be a fun start to this activity. Just look at the packaging to verify the age it’s intended for, so you’re sure it’s safe for children.

    Then, make sure you have enough fun things for decorating. If you already have some art and craft supplies at home, you can use those. Or, take a trip to pick out some special supplies together.

    Once you’re ready to get started, determine if you’ll work together or let your child take the lead. Remember not to get glue on the on/off button! Write their name on it so it will be their own special flashlight — or ask them to do it if they’re big enough. Then place it next to your child’s bed.

  2. The Bedtime Book. Children experiencing nighttime wetness are often afraid to go to sleep in their own beds. Making this book is a good way to instill confidence in your child while also teaching them about nighttime wetting and exploring how they feel about it.

    Materials Needed:

    • Construction paper
    • Art supplies such as glue, glitter, markers or crayons
    • A stapler or a three-hole punch and bits of ribbon for binding the book

    What to Do:

    Make this book all about your child and their special sleeping space. Help them draw a bed on the first page, and then let them draw and decorate the rest of the story. Ask leading questions such as What do you like about your bed? What don’t you like about your bed?

    If your child raises concerns about their nighttime wetting, assure them that it’s no big deal and there’s no reason to be afraid.

    Let your child draw out how they feel and then write out accompanying text. Also, let them end the book the way they choose. Bind the book either by stapling it together or by using a three-hole punch and tying the book with ribbon.

  3. Anatomy 101. Illustrating how the bladder works is educational and artistic. It may help your child understand nighttime wetting a little better.
  4. Materials Needed:

    • A simple anatomy book showing the bladder and urethra and their functions — or a website that shows this information
    • Construction paper
    • Markers, crayons or colored pencils

    What to Do:

    One way to help your child worry less about staying dry at night is by giving them a simple anatomy lesson so they can better understand their bladder and the process of urination. Show your child the pictures in the anatomy book or website, and trace how fluids make their way through the body. Teach them some of the simple words such as “bladder” and “kidneys.”

    Then, help your child draw an outline of a body and have them show you how fluids are processed in the body. This is a good opportunity to teach them that some children’s bladders mature at a slower rate than others, which is why the “extra liquid” in their bodies sometimes “overflows” at night. Not only will your child understand why nighttime wetting is happening to them, but also you might inspire your own little doctor or artist!

These activities are a great way to help your child learn more about bedwetting — and have some fun bonding time together too. Give one a try and discover how to boost self-esteem for kids. Better yet, try them all.

These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, consult your doctor as needed.