Friday, March 11, 2011

There's No Shame In Bedwetting - How To Help Your Child

I am not an expert on this topic, but I am a concerned mother of a 6 year old son who still regularly wets his bed.  My concern is not for the health of my son, as I know there is nothing physically wrong with him.  Rather, my concern is over how I can ensure that he does not feel ashamed or in any way responsible for what he cannot control.  It did cross my mind whether I should actually write about this, whether I was invading my son's privacy to the world, however, I also thought that by worrying about writing this topic was in itself implying that there was something to be ashamed about - and there isn't. 

When my son was first potty trained at 3 1/2 he actually did stay dry at night for about the first 3 months.  And then there started to be accidents.  At first they were sporadic, then nightly, then several times a night.  As a working mom, it was killing me getting up at night.  So I went back to pull-ups.  I have tried several times to take away the pull-ups.  Most recently, he went 10 straight nights without an accident - the best success we've had.  I thought we were finally through with diapers in my house.  And then he had an accident.  I didn't put him back in the pull-ups hoping that it was just an off night.  But 3 more consecutive nights and I felt I had no choice.  Not only because it's exhausting to get up at night and then go to work the next day, but also how disillusioned my son was to wake up in a wet bed.  Not only did it make him feel bad, but he was also tired the next day for school.  He recently had his 6 year check up and his pediatrician said I really shouldn't worry about it, that I should keep using the pull-ups and that eventually it would just click.  He assured me that there was nothing wrong with my son and that this was VERY common.

I do know how common this topic is, but there is still that underlying notion of having to keep it hush hush and having to somehow fix it.  I know some mothers have tried the bedwetting alarms but I can't bring myself to do it.  I think that would imply that my son can make this stop.  I know he feels bad and would LOVE to not wet the bed (especially since his younger sister is dry at night), so I feel it's so important that I make sure he knows it's OK and that there is nothing wrong with him.  I have NEVER made a big deal about it to him.  I do praise him when he has a dry night, but not too loudly or else I fear it will make the wet nights feel more like a failure.

So what causes bedwetting in kids over 5?  Apparently, it's not considered a "problem" for children younger than 6.  According to an article from RevolutionHealth, the main causes include:

  • Delayed growth. Children whose nervous system is still forming may not be able to know when their bladder is full.
  • A small bladder. Some children may have a bladder that gets full quickly.
  • Too little antidiuretic hormone. The body makes this hormone, which rises at night to tell the kidneys to release less water. Some children may not have enough of this hormone.
  • Deep sleeping. Many children who wet the bed sleep so deeply that they don't wake up to use the bathroom. They probably will wet the bed less often as they get older and their sleep pattern changes.
  • Emotional or social factors. Children may be more likely to wet the bed if they have some stress. For example, a child may have a new brother or sister.
I know there are things you can do to "treat" bedwetting in children 7 or over.  Again, I'm a little torn as to whether I should do so, or whether I should let it run its course and sort itself out.  I feel quite confident that it will sort itself out eventually.  I know there are so many ways to handle this situation and that not everyone will choose the same route.  I think the biggest factor in my decision will be my son himself.  If he gets to the point where the pull-ups have to go but he still wets his bed, then I will speak with his pediatrician again for further options.  For now, I will hold steady and continue to do as I have:

  • limit fluid intake in the evening
  • have him go to the bathroom right before bed
  • use pull-ups
  • praise him for dry nights (but not too enthusiastically)
  • make light of wet nights
  • assure him that there is absolutely nothing wrong with him and that it is beyond his control (he is a very deep sleeper)
  • keep communication open with how he's feeling about the situation

A last word on the topic... it seems that every time I tell someone about the issue, either they themselves or someone they know have also had the problem.  I'm continuously surprised at how common this is.  I also hear from many that they were punished and/or ridiculed for their bedwetting.  That breaks my heart.  I hope that speaking out about this and saying "It is NOT the child's fault" well help someone else out there.  I only scratched the surface here, but there are many resources out there to educate yourself on the topic.  And, of course, there is always your pediatrician.

1 comment:

  1. Kids of any age could have a bedwetting issue for any number of reasons. It just takes patience, love, and understanding to get through these tough times. My 11 year old son was bedridden for a short period of time, due to a leg injury from playing sports in school. He was told to drink plenty of water during this time, and he did. I usually went into his room each morning to check on him. One morning, I went into his room with a wet wash cloth to give him an in-bed bath. After helping him take off his pajamas, I started washing his leg, and without warning, he peed all over his bedsheet. Luckily, I had put a plastic mmattress cover under his bedsheet. After this pee accident, I had him wear a diaper while he was bedridden. Because he was drinking so much water, he sometimes didn't have very good control. He had a few more pee accidents during this time, but we got through this.