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Advice for Parents

Discover How To Be Supportive About Bedwetting

Howard J. Bennett, MD

Learn more about how to be an informed parent and how to show support around the topic of bedwetting.

It is hard for children to deal with a problem that occurs when they are sleeping. Even more frustrating is the fact that kids do not know when it’s going to happen. While some children wet the bed every night, most do it less often. But the bottom line is that 5 million children go to sleep at night not knowing if their bed will be wet or dry in the morning.

A recent study from Acta Paediatrica evaluated how medical disorders affected a child’s self-esteem. Researchers looked at children with heart disease, asthma and bedwetting. The results showed that children who wet the bed had more negative self-esteem than the other two groups. The study did not address why this was so, but common sense may provide an explanation. Of the three groups, children who wet the bed are more likely to blame themselves for their problem.

Many parents are uniformed about the nature of bedwetting. As a result, they are more likely to believe the common myths about bedwetting. If parents believe these myths, they may intentionally or unintentionally convey the information to their children who, in turn, may end up feeling badly about themselves.

Common Myths About Bedwetting

  • Only little kids wet the bed.
  • Children who wet the bed are too lazy to get up at night to pee.
  • If children didn’t drink after dinner, they would be dry in the morning.
  • Bedwetting goes away on its own, so why bother treating it?
  • If a child put his mind to it, he could be dry anytime he wanted to. 

Parents can prevent or undo this damage by showing support, talking to their children about what causes bedwetting and by taking a non-punitive approach when kids are wet at night.

There are a number of specific things parents can do to reduce the stress associated with bedwetting.

  • Remind children that bedwetting is no one’s fault.
  • Let children know that lots of kids have the same problem. Because it is hard for children to appreciate how big the number 5 million is, keep the following statistic in mind: You would have to fill up a professional baseball stadium 100 times to find seats for 5 million people!
  • Do not punish or shame children for being wet at night. Punishment comes in many forms. It can be obvious like grounding a child or taking away privileges such as TV or computer time. It can also be subtler, like not buying the child new sheets or clothes because he will ruin them with repeated wetting episodes.
  • Make sure the child’s siblings do not tease him about wetting the bed. It is normal for brothers and sisters to argue, but medical problems should be off limits.
  • Let children know if anyone in the family wet the bed growing up. This includes parents, aunts, uncles and even cousins. Knowing the problem is a family trait will help them feel like the problem is not their fault. • Maintain a low-key attitude after wetting episodes. GoodNites pants help by reducing the amount of laundry parents have to do when children are wet at night and help your kid feel more secure, making everyone’s lives easier
  • Praise children for success in any of the following areas: waking up at night to urinate, having smaller wet spots, helping to remake the bed or having a dry night.

Conclusion

Children are very sensitive to their parents’ emotions. If you handle bedwetting with kindness and concern, it will help prevent your child from feeling bad about him or herself.

Dr. Bennett is the author of Waking Up Dry: A Guide to Help Children Overcome Bedwetting and Max Archer, Kid Detective: The Case of the Wet Bed.

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