Do Rewards Or Punishment Help To Stop Bedwetting?

Nov 02, 2022 | 1.5 minutes Read

Rewards And Punishment

Almost every kid will wet the bed at some stage. As a parent, the key to supporting your child through this sensitive time is to not make a big deal out of it. Always try to keep positive and never punish your child for wetting the bed. It is a total myth that children wet the bed because they are being bad or lazy. Bedwetting is completely outside of their conscious control, so no amount of punishment is going to help them stop bedwetting and will only damage their confidence and self-esteem. Equally, rewards need to be used wisely, if you decide to use them at all. Rewarding your child for staying dry at night will only set them up for disappointment if they fail to achieve something that they have no control over in the first place. In most cases, bedwetting is caused by a developmental delay that will naturally fix itself with the grace of time, so your consistent loving support will make for smooth sailing while this phase passes by.

Do Rewards Systems Help To Stop Bedwetting?

The short answer is no. While rewards systems can work well for daytime potty training, staying dry at night is a completely different ball game.  It is not unusual for children to continue to wet the bed at night after they have achieved daytime dryness. This is because staying dry at night requires their body to have developed one or more of the following processes:

  1. Bladder reflex development – which means that your child’s bladder can signal to the brain to tell it to wake up when their bladder is full
  2. The ability to produce enough anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which slows down urine production at night
  3. Their overall bladder capacity
Without these natural physiological developments, no amount of rewards are going to help them to stop bedwetting, so rewarding dry nights will only set them up for  disappointment and potentially impact on their self-esteem.If rewards are something that you feel supports your child, we would encourage rewarding positive and responsible behaviors around their bedtime and early morning routine instead, like laying out their spare pair of pajamas in the evening, setting their bedwetting alarm or disposing of their Goodnites in the morning.Your child might like to help design a reward chart, one where they accumulate points that they can cash in for a bigger treat. Whether you choose to use a rewards system or not, keeping the subject of bedwetting light and not making a big deal out of it will support your child to remain happy and confident throughout this time.

Why Punishment Doesn’t Work

A bedwetting phase is a normal, yet very delicate time for a child. Depending on their age they may experience a loss of confidence, anxiety, or  feelings of shame, embarrassment, and confusion. Your love and reassurance are essential to ensuring their emotional wellbeing while their body naturally develops the ability to stay dry at night. We understand that interrupted sleep for nights in a row can make it a challenging time for parents, but it is important to remember that bedwetting is completely out of your child’s control. Because of this, no amount of discipline or punishment is going to help your child stop bedwetting and will only increase their stress and anxiety levels (which can contribute to the bedwetting continuing). Depending on your child’s age, developing their own independence during their bedwetting phase can be very empowering. Giving your child the responsibility of changing their own wet pajamas or stripping the sheets can be very supportive, so long as it isn’t treated as a punishment for wetting the bed.
What can you do to encourage nighttime bladder control?

  • Ensure that your child drinks water regularly throughout the day and limit sugary, carbonated, or caffeinated drinks after 4pm.
  • Talk with your child about what they should do if they wake up in the night and need to go to the toilet – should they go to the toilet on their own or call out to you?
  • Create a clear and well-lit path between their bed and the toilet. A small night light and your loving care is the best support for a child who is scared of the dark.
  • Avoid waking or lifting your child throughout the night, as this will not give their bladder the opportunity to learn to store the amount of urine that their body produces.
Make sure your child isn’t over-tired when you put them to sleep, as this will make it harder for them to wake up in response to a full bladder.