Dr. Mom: The Truth About Bed-wetting: No One Should Feel Guilty

By on October 4, 2011

Bed-wettingBed-wetting elicits feelings of guilt, helplessness, and shame among children and parents. Yet, it is benign and commonplace.

How common? Fifteen percent of 5-year-olds will experience it.

There is no need for guilt, shame – or worry, for that matter. Dr. Mom is here to debunk the common myths surrounding bed-wetting and reveal the truth.

I hope the truth will ease your mind and help your children and you sleep better until this phase is over. And trust me, it is a phase. You will not be sending your child to college with a supply of pull-ups.

Debunking myths

Your child does not wet the bed on purpose. He doesn’t even know it’s happened until he wakes up and realizes he is wet. It is not his fault and does not mean that he is “lazy.” A child who wets the bed is not doing it to be defiant, nor does it mean he has “emotional issues.”

It’s not your fault as the parent. It does not mean you have somehow failed. No, you are not missing the magical “my child stays dry through the night” touch.

You may be among the parents who think: “My child is potty-trained during the day. Doesn’t that mean she should stay dry at night?”

The simple answer is no. Most children will achieve daytime dryness months to years before they are able to stay dry at night. I generally do not use the term “bed-wetting” unless a child is older than 5.

By the way, bed-wetting does run in the family. Children who wet the bed likely have a parent or close relative with a history of it.

In addition to genetics, children who wet the bed beyond the age of 5 usually have a combination of factors causing it. They produce more urine at night, have smaller bladders than their peers and are deep sleepers.

What ends up happening is that the brain and the bladder don’t communicate until it’s too late. Eventually your child’s brain and bladder will start talking.

In fact, 85 percent of children who wet the bed will outgrow it without any intervention. This typically occurs around puberty.

What can you do as the parent of a bed-wetter? Relax. Don’t make a big deal of it. Reassure your child that she will outgrow it. Let her use pull-ups at night. Let go of your guilt and provide emotional support.

Aside from ensuring that your child uses the bathroom before going to bed, let go of your worry and let nature take its course.

However, if your child is over age 6 and is motivated to stop wetting the bed, meaning he has told you it bothers him and he wants to stop, then you can certainly try to help him achieve nighttime dryness.

Speed up Mother Nature

The most effective technique available today, uses a potty alarm. These alarms attach to your child’s underwear and as soon as it senses any wetness, an alarm goes off, waking your child to get up and use the bathroom. After several weeks, the alarm teaches your child’s brain to pay attention to his bladder.

Restricting fluids after dinnertime may or may not help your child. It has not been shown to be a huge factor. If you find that limiting your child’s fluids after a certain hour helps, then sure, give it a go. However, for most children, what ends up happening is they still wet the bed, just a slightly smaller amount.

There is a short-term solution for bed-wetters that may help for special occasions such as vacations or sleepovers. A drug called desmopressin is the manufactured form of the hormone responsible for decreasing urine production at night.

Since children relapse when the medicine stops, this is not considered an effective long-term approach.

Watch for red flags

If your child suddenly starts wetting the bed after she had previously been dry and has other symptoms occurring simultaneously (such as increased thirst, pain with urination, daytime accidents, or behavioral problems), she should be evaluated by her doctor as this could signify other conditions.

In addition, it’s always prudent to have your child evaluated by his doctor for bed-wetting just to ensure there are no coexisting medical conditions.

Now you know that bed-wetting generally should not cause worry. Reassure your child. Let go of the guilt, and start enjoying these fleeting years with your child.

Source: The Sacramento Bee

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