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Advice for Parents

Bedwetting Activities to Teach and Learn

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, her first way of making sense of the world around her. "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, or nighttime wetting?

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 nighttime wetting, 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 her feel better about it and herself, boosting self-esteem and confidence.

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 she gets 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 him about nighttime wetting and how he feels 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 him 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 his nighttime wetting, assure him that it's no big deal and there's no reason to be afraid.

Let your child draw out how he feels and write accompanying text, and have him end the book the way he likes. 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:

Help your child understand her bladder and the process of urination by giving her a simple anatomy lesson. Show your child the pictures in the anatomy book and trace how fluids make their way through the body. Teach her some of the simple words such as "bladder" and "kidneys."

Then, help your child draw an outline of a body and have her show you how fluids are processed in the body. This is a good opportunity to teach her 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 her, but you might inspire your own little doctor or artist!

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