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What is Bedwetting

Is Bedwetting Hereditary? How to Talk About It

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Last Updated: 3/26/21
Read Time: 2.5 minutes

Nighttime wetting usually has a strong genetic tie. And if parents experienced bedwetting, they might remember feeling stressed or confused. If you wet the bed when you were young, think about how you can use this experience to alleviate stress for your child. Being open and having a conversation may help put them at ease.

Is Bedwetting Genetic?

If you’re wondering “Is bedwetting hereditary?” you’re definitely onto something. Nighttime wetting usually has a strong genetic link. While specific experiences may vary, it’s very common for bedwetting to run in the family. Dr. Carolyn Thiedke, professor of family medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, says, “There are probably several causes of bedwetting, but it is clear that having parents who wet the bed makes it more likely that a child will wet the bed. Children who have one parent who wet the bed have a 43% chance of wetting the bed, and if both parents wet the bed, the chance climbs to 77%.”

However, passing on nighttime wetting genes to your children is not a simple process — or all bad. Researchers at UCLA have discovered that parents who pass on nighttime wetting to their kids are also often passing on intelligence. Their study of children with a family history of bedwetting found that children who had a lower than normal impulse to wake up when needing to urinate (often resulting in nighttime wetting) also had higher than normal IQ scores.

Younger children who are recently potty trained might not be worried about bedwetting. But older children are usually more concerned. So, sharing your own experiences can help them realize they aren’t alone, and, in most cases, it will go away naturally.

Preparing for the Conversation

Before you sit down for a conversation, take some time to remember what wetting the bed was like for you. Sure, it was a long time ago. But you probably remember feeling stressed or confused about nighttime wetting — especially if it continued until you were an older child or teen. While focusing on negative memories isn’t necessarily fun, it can give you empathy for what your child is going through. Think about what worried you. Maybe you thought you’d wet the bed forever. Maybe someone like a sibling teased you. Or maybe you felt like it was your fault or that your parents would be upset. You might also remember being concerned about nighttime wetting at a sleepover or on a family vacation. These are all common feelings and concerns, and your child may be having some of them. Or, they may be having a totally difference experience. That’s why listening will be such an important part of your conversation.

Talk to Your Child about Your Wetting Experiences

When you’re ready for an open and honest conversation — and your child seems ready too — here are some points you can make:

  • When I was a child, I was just like you! I had accidents at night, too.
  • I also used to wake up in a wet bed.
  • Just like you, I didn’t have any control over it. I just slept right through it and didn’t even know.
  • I wet the bed until I was (xx) years old. 
  • I just had to wait for my body to grow and mature before I eventually was dry all night.
  • Someday, you’ll grow out of this too! In the meantime, I think we should keep using your Goodnites® NightTime Underwear under your pajamas. What do you think about that? 
  • I want you to know this because bedwetting is so common — many other kids experience this just like us. 
  • The most important thing we can do right now is make sure we talk to each other. I want you to know you can always come to me about this. 
  • This isn’t a big deal. and I know we’re going to get through this just fine.
  • How are you feeling about wetting the bed? Is there anything you’d like to talk about?

Openly talking about these shared experiences shows your child how common bedwetting is — even among their own family members! This can provide a huge sense of comfort and reassurance for them and gives them a real-life example of someone outgrowing nighttime wetting. Just be sure you take time to let your child talk too. You might be surprised by what they’re thinking and letting them share can show you even more ways to be understanding and supportive.

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