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Advice for Parents

Frustrated About Bedwetting? Advice to Help You De-stress

Bedwetting, or nighttime wetting, can try the patience of even the most tranquil of parents. The crying child, the wet sheets and the interrupted sleep can make a miserable night for everyone, especially a sleep-deprived parent who may already be overwhelmed by the demands of parenting.

Karen understands that kind of frustration. Her 10-year-old son has been wetting the bed since he was 3 years old.

"My son is an extremely heavy sleeper," says Karen. "When we get him up in the night, he has absolutely no idea that we even got him up. He gets turned around and goes into his other brothers' rooms, thinks he has to brush his teeth and so on. It is so frustrating because I feel that I am wasting my time, as he has no idea the reason for getting him up."

Karen and her husband try not to get irritated, but this can be difficult, especially because they feel they are doing everything they can to help him control the problem. But no matter how frustrated they get, she feels it is imperative not to let their child know they are frustrated.

"I believe it is very important to not let him hear us or see us [acting frustrated], as it can be very damaging to him in that he will believe that he is a failure, which he is not," says Karen. "And I make sure that he knows it."

Terri agrees. Her son began wetting the bed at about age 5 when he had previously had no problems staying dry throughout the night. She believes that keeping your frustration about the situation out of sight is essential. "I think it is important not to shame children because then a physical problem becomes emotional," she says.

Have Reasonable Expectations

Dr. Kerrie Laguna, associate professor of psychology at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA, says parents who get frustrated often do so because they don't have realistic expectations.

"Parents should know that bedwetting is quite common, especially among boys," says Dr. Laguna. "Even when children are day trained, they can wet at night up to 6 or 7 years of age, and it is still considered normal. Night control requires waking to the cues that we easily recognize during the day. It also requires little bladders to work harder, and many children have not developed the control yet in preschool years."

Parents should control expressions of frustration, particularly anger, according to Dr. Laguna.

One of the reasons parents get so stressed over nightly nighttime wetting is because it is inconvenient for them.

"I think parents are stressed, and it adds to their already full schedules," says Dr. Laguna. "It means an extra load of laundry, for example. There is also some pressure from others in the sense that we tend to view toilet training as a sign of good parenting."

Take Care of Yourself

It is normal for parents to feel guilt about their emotions. As more parents become educated about child development, they may face conflicts between what the experts say and how they actually feel and react. Parents understand that the best way to help their child is to deal with their own frustration, but they are often at a loss on how.

"Generally, taking care of themselves (sleep, exercise, etc.) is the advice for coping with the stress of life," says Dr. Laguna. "I think for child rearing stress, education about what is normal, developmentally speaking, is really important."

Frustration is a normal reaction to not being able to control a situation. Just remember that "this too shall pass" — the trick is to control your frustration enough to help your child deal with theirs!

Feel Less Frustrated Now

The following tips can help parents deal with their frustration so they can better help their child:

  • Be proactive about your child's nighttime wetting. Talk to your child's doctor and educate yourself about the topic.
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep overall so the occasional interruptions won't put you over the edge.
  • Understand that this isn't something your children can control — they are not doing it on purpose!
  • Remember that accidents happen no matter what you and your child do to prevent them. Just because a certain program isn't working doesn't mean you should give up. Sometimes it just takes time.
  • It may help to share your frustration with family members or friends. Just make sure it is in a place where your child can't overhear you.
  • Use GoodNites® Bedtime Pants or GoodNites* TRU-FIT* Underwear until the child is consistently dry. Much of the frustration comes from having to change sheets, and it hardly seems worth it when products such as this are available.

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