Bedwetting can be challenging for children, their caregivers, and the entire family. Between the sleepless nights, 3am laundry, watching your child struggle with something they can’t control, and not having a solution to make it all go away can have a profound impact. In a Goodnites® study, we found that 50% of parents of bedwetters with ADHD and/or Autism feel like a bad parent, while 58% feel helpless, and 60% have experienced increased anxiety.
We spoke to Allie Tasche, VP of National Programs at the Autism Society of America and former educator to share some strategies for managing the big feelings involved with parenting a child who is struggling with wetting the bed.
Is It Normal to Feel Frustrated or Angry About Your Child’s Bedwetting?
Ms. Tasche emphasized, “Experiencing frustration, guilt, and helplessness as a parent dealing with bedwetting is entirely normal and understandable. It's important for parents and caregivers to acknowledge and validate these emotions, because denying them can exacerbate the stress associated with managing bedwetting.”
How To Manage Frustration and Guilt, And Still Be a Supportive Parent
- Be Kind to Yourself. Bedwetting is not your child’s fault, and it’s not yours either. To be able to consistently show support for your child on good days and bad, you have to support yourself on good days and bad, too. Tell yourself—and actually believe it—that you are doing a good job, even if your child is still having a hard time with wetting the bed.
- Do your research. Understanding the causes of bedwetting and options for what you can do to help can be empowering, and help you feel more aware and in control on your journey.
- Manage Your Expectations. When we’re in the moment, it’s easy to think that our behavior or our child’s accident has set us back. We give so much attachment to success – when something goes well, we think we helped it go really well. We feel like good helpers to our children in that moment. And when something goes bad, we feel bad, like we messed up or didn’t do the right thing. Over time, try to allow yourself to separate personal value and emotion from the event. Think of yourself as a good supporter, whether or not your child wakes up dry.
- Stop Comparing. Every bedwetting experience is unique, just like every child is unique. It’s easy to try to compare, and wonder, “Why is my kid taking ten times to master a skill, while another child gets it on the first try?” Or “What are their parents doing that I’m not doing? How are they better at this than I am?” There is so much emotion around challenges and milestones, but there isn’t a concrete answer beyond everyone is different. And when it comes to bedwetting, every child’s experience will be different.
- Find Support. Whether consulting with professionals, or creating connections with others in your community, reach out to people who have expertise in the intersections of bedwetting and Autism or ADHD, or reach out to parents who have gone through similar experiences.
- Take a Break. Take time for yourself to rest, recharge, and reduce stress in an important act of self-care. Self-compassion and prioritization of your needs as a person and a parent will help boost your mental and emotional well-being, in support of your child.
Build an Unbreakable Relationship with Your Child
- It’s a team effort. Adopting a “we are in this together” mentality is the first step to creating a sense of safety and openness to ask questions and share feelings.
- Open communication is key when managing bedwetting.. It’s never too late to build open lines of communication, in whichever manner your child communicates.
- Give and accept unconditional love and support. Communicate your unconditional love for your child. Let them know that bedwetting does not define them, their value, or your relationship. Emphasize that bedwetting is common and you will work through the hard times together. Then, turn to yourself and offer that same grace and understanding.
You’re Not Alone
If you, your child or other family members are struggling with big feelings about bedwetting, reach out for support, either through professional help or by connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences. Find your local Autism Society Affiliate or other organization.