Parents know that girls and boys can be different in lots of ways. What many parents don’t realize is that bedwetting, or nighttime wetting, can affect girls’ emotions at an earlier age than boys.
Dr. Patrick C. Friman, a clinical psychologist and director of Girls and Boys Town Outpatient Behavioral Pediatrics and Family Services in Boys Town, NE, says that Dr. F. C. Verhulst, a noted psychiatrist and researcher, made the case 10 years ago for changing the diagnostic criteria of bedwetting treatment to age 5 for girls and age 8 for boys because he thought the epidemiology was so different. In other words, it’s more developmentally out of line for a girl to wet the bed at age 5 than it is for a boy.
“Girls mature emotionally more quickly and are ultimately more sensitive to the social implications of bedwetting than their male peers,” says Dr. Friman. “Because of that, I do think there’s a difference in how bedwetting impacts girls and the depth of the feeling that they have about it.”
Nighttime Wetting and Emotions
“One day we took her to the doctor when she was still fairly young — 5 or 6 — and he just said she’d grow out of it,” Hope says. “It was terrible. She was sad and we were sad for her. As first-time parents, you don’t really know what’s right or wrong, and we listened to him. But in hindsight, I wish I hadn’t because she was very conscious of it and it did impact her. Even the few things he did suggest seemed to just make her feel humiliated, like she was doing this on purpose.”
Taking your daughter’s nighttime wetting seriously before the generally accepted timeframe can save her from having bad feelings about wetting the bed. And, if your daughter is obviously distraught about her nighttime wetting, then she’s also highly motivated to stop and will welcome your support.
Moving Beyond Bedwetting
Dr. Friman assures all parents that it won’t.
“These are kids,” says Dr. Friman. “Accidents happen in class and at night and there’s no way to have that not happen, but if a kid is otherwise pretty well established and has love and stability at home, the repercussions won’t be long lasting. By the time she’s been dry a month, the child will be so absorbed by the day-to-day unfolding of her life that the bedwetting won’t mean a thing.”
Nighttime Wetting Tips for Parents of Girls
- Pay attention to your daughter’s feelings. If she’s distressed about bedwetting and your physician doesn’t take it seriously, consider consulting a psychologist or another physician who will.
- Don’t disclose her nighttime wetting with her peers. Children can be mean, especially as they move toward adolescence. Nighttime wetting should be between you and your child.
- Don’t keep your daughter from social situations. Rather, help her make a plan for sleepovers so she can discreetly change into Goodnites® NightTime Underwear to manage her nighttime wetting while still enjoying the party. For younger children bedwetting, pants like these may require you to enlist the other child’s parent for help.
- Be aware of your daughter’s urinary health. Talk to her about UTIs and the importance of letting you know if it hurts when she tries to urinate.
- Do not allow siblings to tease one another about nighttime wetting.
- Talk about your own experience. If you experienced bedwetting as a child, tell your child what it was like for you.