How to Manage Teenage Bedwetting
Wetting the bed can be a stressor at any age – but what if you’re a young adult hiding it from your friends?
Teenagers who wet the bed at night, experiencing a condition known as nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting), may feel even more embarrassed than younger children about not staying dry at night. Although many children can stop worrying about something like this well before they become teens, that’s not always the case. In fact, the National Kidney Foundation estimates that about 1-2% of 15-year-olds wet the bed.
What Can Parents Do to Help Manage Teenage Bedwetting?
- Contact a physician as soon as your teen approaches you with their problem. Chances are good that a teen with nocturnal enuresis won't suffer this condition forever. Molly Haig of the Enuresis Resource and Information Center (ERIC) says that "Most teenagers do naturally 'grow out' of bedwetting, with only a very small percentage continuing to have problems in later life.”
- Be supportive. Make sure to be positive and informative when you talk to your child about teen bedwetting, and that whatever you say helps them feel less embarrassed about their situation. Denise Witmer, a parenting expert at About.com, says that once you’ve established that you’re supportive to your teen, you can move ahead as a team. “Don't make a big deal out of a wet bed," says Witmer. Your child's self-esteem may be at stake; the longer they must deal with the embarrassment of wetting the bed at night, the more likely they'll start to feel badly about themselves.
- Share your bedwetting experience. Chances are that parents who wet the bed as a child or teen will pass it on to their children. Having someone to relate to during this time can make a huge difference for many kids. Opening up about your own bedwetting period can take a lot of pressure off your teen’s shoulders.
- Teach your teen ways to cope with bedwetting. Expert Denise Witmer suggests to "Show your [teen] how to strip the sheets and do a load of wash." This helps them feel more in control. Showing them how absorbent underwear can help them manage wetness can also give your child more confidence.
- Witmer also advises parents to keep the problem to themselves. "Sharing this problem with other family members or friends will only serve to embarrass your [teen]," she says. Let them choose who knows and who doesn’t.
How Can Teenagers Get Help?
- Talk to someone. If you are a teen who wets the bed, first be sure you're talking to someone about it. Parents or guardians, understanding friends, counselors, your doctor; all are good options. It may be difficult to reveal, but you're not the only person your age to experience nocturnal enuresis.
- Ask your parents for help. Many kids like you who wet the bed have parents who had the same problem as children. Your mom or dad may have experienced bedwetting in their adolescence, too. And even if they didn’t, a parent or another trusted adult will be more concerned about helping you than making you feel self-conscious.
- Don’t keep it to yourself! Doing so prevents you from getting the medical attention you may need if something as simple as a urinary tract infection could be to blame. Plus, if a doctor can't find a physical reason for your condition, they can give you advice about managing teen bedwetting.
What About Social Situations?
- Trust your closest friends with this knowledge. The stress of hiding nighttime wetting from peers can make enjoying social situations difficult for some teens. While there are ways to keep nighttime wetting a secret, advisors at ERIC suggest that "it is sometimes better to trust a few close friends and tell them about your problem. Once you've said it, hurdles like staying away overnight just disappear."
- Try preventative strategies. If you don't feel comfortable sharing your "secret" with your friends, or you're afraid your friends won’t be understanding, talk to your parents and doctor about strategies to help prevent nighttime wetting. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages before bed, and don't forget to urinate several times before hitting the sack.
- Give disposable, absorbent enuresis products a try! To help you keep dry at night, products like Goodnites® NightTime Underwear will have your back. You can slip them on while you're changing into your pajamas, and no one will be the wiser. If you wear a larger size, consider trying Depend® Underwear.
How Can you Find Support?
- For teens: With your parent’s permission and guidance, go online to find local or online support groups where you can exchange ideas with other older children dealing with nighttime wetting.
- For parents: Seek appropriate sources of private support for yourself. iParenting.com offers a variety of articles and discussion boards related to bedwetting. You can get advice from real families experiencing the same thing can help your own family successfully manage the condition. You can also join the Goodnites Parent to Parent Network, a private group on Facebook, for support.
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, consult your doctor as needed.