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Bedwetting Help

Using Playtime to Better Manage Bedwetting

Have Fun While Boosting Self-Esteem

If there's one thing children all over the world have in common, it's play. It is 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 the 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 parents sit down with their children for 30 minutes of safe and accepting play, they can learn a lot about how their children feel about nighttime wetting. Plus, talking with your child about wetting can help them feel better about it and themselves, reducing worry and embarrassment.

Here are some fun activities you and your child can do together to learn more about and help manage your child's nighttime wetting:

1. Emergency Flashlight

Sometimes children are afraid to get up to use the bathroom at night because they are afraid of the dark. Your child can help decorate this flashlight and use it when they get up at night.

Materials Needed:

  • A child-safe flashlight
  • Glue
  • Glitter
  • Markers or paint pens
  • Ribbons
  • Stickers
What to Do:

If you don't already have an extra one in the house, shopping for a flashlight can be a fun start to this activity. Make sure it is safe for children (look at the packaging to verify the age it is intended for). Next, gather all your materials together. Decorate the flashlight with glitter, ribbons and stickers. You or your child can write your child's name on it with a paint pen so it will be his own special flashlight. Remember not to get glue on the on/off button! Then place the flashlight in its own special place 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 how they feel about it.

Materials Needed:

  • Construction paper
  • A child-safe flashlight
  • Glue
  • Glitter
  • Markers or paint pens
  • Ribbons
  • Stickers
  • Bits of fabric
  • A three-hole punch or stapler for binding the book

What to Do:

Help your child draw a bed on the first page of the book, 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 write accompanying text, and have them end the book the way they like. Bind the book either by stapling it together or using a three-hole punch and tying the book together with ribbon.

3. Anatomy 101

Illustrating how the bladder works is educational and artistic and may help your child understand nighttime wetting a little better.

Materials Needed:
  • A simple anatomy book showing the bladder and urethra, and their functions
  • 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 that helps them to understand their bladder and the process of urination. Show your child the pictures in the anatomy book 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 you might inspire your own little doctor or artist!

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

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