How to stop bedwetting
Every parent waits for it…when they finally don’t need to buy pull-ups anymore and their child is dry at night. But what do you do if the years keep passing and your child is still having nighttime accidents? You’ve asked the doctor and were told that it is totally normal and just wait it out.
But how long should you wait before taking another course of action?
As a parent, I myself was confronted with this situation over thirty years ago. My son, then aged 6, was having accidents at night. Completely dry and able to go the whole day without any problems, we were exhausted and frustrated from the nightly accidents and required washing and linen changes.
The doctor sent our son for tests – blood tests, urine tests, you name it. But nothing yielded any results. I later found out why – in nearly 99 percent of children facing bedwetting, nighttime accidents are not a result of a medical condition, rather a learning fault of the brains reflex system that occurs when the child is in a very deep sleep.
These are otherwise normal, healthy children, who to no fault of their own aren’t capable of recognizing the signals that the bladder is sending to their brains.
As an enuresis treatment specialist, and a father, it pains me to hear of children who are being punished for bed-wetting, forced to change their own wet sheets to ‘teach them a lesson’ and force them to learn to wake up and go to the bathroom. When parents shame their child for doing something they have no control over it will usually have the reverse effect. Not only will the child feel badly about themselves but they will also feel like they are disappointing you.
Confronting this most common parenting challenge requires us all to become more educated about what we can do to assist our children to overcome this condition – which begins first and foremost by understanding it.
How many times have you read or heard that you should take your child to the bathroom before you go to bed yourself? Did you know that by doing just that, you’re taking the responsibility away from the child so that he or she will fail to train their brains to recognize the signals? You probably were also told to limit fluid consumption before bedtime. While this sounds logical enough, it will only help the body learn to function with a small amount of fluid, and not be able to handle normal, full amounts.
There are people, myself included, who have a focused practice and dedicated their careers to fixing this treatable but often ignored condition. Safe and proven methods available from the comfort and convenience of your home, including our program, TheraPee, can and should be utilized to help save our children from the frustration and embarrassment of letting this problem lay.
So what can you do?
• Do not ignore the problem. The condition exists and your child needs to feel that he or she has a support system in place. Bedwetting is also primarily a genetic condition, meaning a parent or aunt/uncle/cousin likely had to deal with the issue themselves. Talk about it; it will relieve some of the shame from the child to know that they are just like everyone else.
• Educate yourselves about bedwetting. Knowledge is power and it will help guide whatever decision you make. If you child is completely toilet trained during the day with no accidents, and only wets the bed at night, there is no medical concern. We know this because it is the same urinary system that is used during the day and at night. If this is the case, there is no need to subject the child to invasive and uncomfortable medical exams and you should seek out professional help.
• Never punish your child for having an accident – Remember, the child is the primary sufferer in this whole story. He or she is not at fault for having an accident and punishment will only make them feel worse about the situation.
• Avoid medication as the primary care for the problem. Since this is not a medical problem, it should not be treated as such. In most cases, medication can improve the situation during the treatment, however it is important to consider the side effects as well as the 60-90% expected relapse rate when the dosage is finished.
• Don’t compare your children – highlighting that a younger sibling is not having accidents just makes the child feel worse.
• Give your child positive reinforcement – the philosophy behind the treatment model we use is to highlight the positive and disregard the negative. For example, in the progress charts we use for our bedwetting treatments, we focus only on the desired behavior, by highlighting a night without accidents by placing a colored star. Nights which aren’t successful for the child are downplayed.
• Seek professional help when your child shows concern for the condition, usually not before the age of four. Dedicated bedwetting clinics and online available resources and treatment kits are available for exactly this purpose and have safe and proven results.
• Don’t wait too long before seeking professional help. As a child gets older, it becomes more of a stigma to be having accidents. It causes social problems among friends and can add much stress to a child’s life. The sooner you resolve the problem, the better.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Together, as partners with your child, you can end his or her bedwetting nightmare and move on to better, dryer and more restful nights.
Jacob Sagie, PhD. is a world renowned enuresis specialist and founder of several bedwetting clinics around the world. His 30-year career dedicated to treating bedwetting has lead to the development of TheraPee , an at-home online tailored bedwetting therapy treatment kit which mirrors his in-clinic techniques.