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Advice for Parents

From Behind Closed Doors

Bedwetting Is Nothing to Be Ashamed About

It happened again: Your son or daughter wet the bed. Night after night, parents just like you cope with their children's bedwetting, or nighttime wetting. Because it can be an embarrassing situation, many children feel ashamed of waking up wet. That's why it's important that parents help their children to understand they've done nothing wrong and that it's a natural part of growing up for many kids.

Why Is This Happening to Us?

To help reduce any feelings of shame, it's important to help your child understand why he is wetting the bed and assure him there are many kids just like him. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one in five 5-year-olds and one in ten 6-year-olds wet the bed.

While the reasons for nighttime wetting can vary from child to child, most often it is simply a matter of waiting for their body to fully mature. "Some just have effectively small bladders; those kids are especially likely to grow out of the problem eventually, since their bladders will grow with the rest of their bodies," says Dr. Vinay N. Reddy, assistant professor of pediatrics and human development at Michigan State University.

Often, children who wet the bed sleep so deeply that they don't wake up when they have the urge to go to the bathroom. "I would always ask my daughter why she didn't get up and go to the bathroom, and she would tell me that she just didn't feel that she had to go," says Michelle. After trying several possible "cures," Michelle found that her daughter didn't wet the bed as often when she wasn't overly tired.

If you're a parent like Michelle, who has dealt with nighttime wetting off and on since her daughter was 6, it might seem like this phase in your child's life will go on forever. But it won't. Most kids stop wetting the bed as they grow older. In fact, according to the Michigan Urology Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, just 5% of 10-year-olds continue to wet the bed. And according to the National Kidney Foundation, only one or two kids out of every 100 are still wetting the bed when they turn 15.

How Can I Reassure My Child?

Until that day arrives, though, your reaction to your child's "accidents" can have a big impact on her own feelings about wetting the bed. Yelling at your child, spanking her or otherwise making her feel badly about herself won't speed her progress and will only hurt her self-esteem.

"It is important for parents to know that children who wet their beds are generally asleep when they wet and so it is not under conscious, voluntary control," says Dr. Warren Silberstein, a pediatrician practicing in Lynbrook, NY. "Not only is it useless to punish children for wetting their beds, but punishment and ridicule may even aggravate the condition."

Dr. Silberstein suggests you start addressing the problem by making an appointment with your child's doctor. "If your child is older than 6 and still wets his bed, you should consider having him evaluated by his pediatrician…," he says.

Once your doctor is in the loop, he or she can keep an eye on your child's condition and make sure he's developing appropriately for his age.

After talking to the pediatrician, it is important that parents continue to reassure their children that nighttime wetting is a common problem, and one they do not have to cope with alone, says Molly Haig, information and helpline manager of Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (ERIC).

What Can We Do until Nighttime Wetting Stops?

To help manage the issue until it passes for good, try disposable absorbent underpants such as GoodNites® NightTime Underwear. They can help keep your child's bed dry, which means he won't be up in the middle of the night changing sheets or moving his blankets and pillow to the floor. In addition, if your child is staying overnight with friends or camping out, he can put the disposable underpants on discreetly when he changes into his pajamas, ensuring that he'll sleep without worry.

While some parents may be concerned that disposable absorbent underpants will delay their child's movement toward staying dry at night, according to the National Kidney Foundation, there is no evidence to indicate these products will stall your child's progress toward a completely dry night. If anything, these products can help your child feel more in control of his condition and give him confidence to handle difficult situations like sleepovers on his own.

No matter how challenging childhood nighttime wetting can be, give your child a few extra hugs and frequent reminders that you're there for support. You're both doing the best you can — keep it up and soon there will be drier nights ahead.



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