"But I'm Too Old to Wet the Bed": Support and Hope for Teens
Wetting the bed can be embarrassing at any age. But what if you are a young adult hiding it from your friends?
Teenagers who wet the bed at night, experiencing a condition known as nocturnal enuresis, may feel even more embarrassed than younger children about not staying dry at night. After all, wetting the bed is something kids should stop worrying about before their teen years, right? Not necessarily.For Parents: What Can I Do for My Teen?
Chances are good that a teen with nocturnal enuresis won't suffer this condition forever. "Most teenagers do naturally 'grow out' of bedwetting (also known as nighttime wetting), with only a very small percentage who continue to have problems in later life," says Molly Haig of the Enuresis Resource and Information Centre (ERIC). But meanwhile, your child's self-esteem is at stake; the longer he has to deal with the embarrassment of nighttime wetting, the more likely he'll start to feel badly about himself. So contact a physician as soon as your teen approaches you with his problem.
Then, suggests Denise Witmer, a parenting expert at About.com, you can move ahead as a team. Be supportive. "Don't make a big deal out of a wet bed," says Witmer. "Show your [teen] how to strip the sheets and do a load of wash."
Also, Witmer 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.For Teenagers: How Can I Get Help?
If you are a teen who wets the bed, first be sure you're talking to someone about it. It may be difficult to reveal, but you're not the only person your age to experience nocturnal enuresis. In fact, according to the National Kidney Foundation, 1-2% of 15-year-olds wet the bed.
Try asking your parents for help first; many children who wet the bed have parents who had the same problem as children, so your mom or dad may have even gone through the same thing when they were your age. Even if they don't have a history of nighttime wetting, a parent or another trusted adult will be more concerned about helping you than making you feel self-conscious.
Keeping it to yourself prevents you from getting medical attention if necessary (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, he can give you advice about how to work through nighttime wetting.
It may be difficult to reveal, but you're not the only person your age to experience nighttime wetting.
Nighttime wetting teens have concerns greater than wondering which classmates will be at the football game. They may be too preoccupied with how to hide their wetting problem to enjoy social situations. 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."
If you're comfortable doing so, give your friends the facts and statistics; they may not know how common nighttime wetting can be in older children. When you're comfortable talking about bedwetting, you won't have to feel isolated from your friends.
If you don't feel you can share your "secret" with your friends, or you're afraid your friends will be uncomfortable with your condition, talk to your doctor and parents about strategies to help prevent nighttime wetting. Try to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages before bed, and don't forget to urinate several times before hitting the sack.
Another option that can save you the embarrassment of wet sheets is to use disposable absorbent underpants such as GoodNites® Bedtime Pants or GoodNites* TRU-FIT* Underwear. You can put 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, specifically designed to help you rest easy.
How Can I Find Support?
Next, go online to find local or online support groups where you can exchange ideas with other older children dealing with nighttime wetting.
Or click here to receive support, learn techniques and read advice on how to address and manage nighttime wetting. iParenting.com also offers a variety of articles and discussion boards related to bedwetting. Getting advice from real families experiencing nocturnal enuresis can help your own family get through this time.