Keep things low-key
Make sure that the approach to bedwetting is a low-key one. Point out that it is not a child’s fault and that it usually means that a child simply needs to keep growing up – there is nothing abnormal about it. It often helps if the child knows that others in the family have experienced bedwetting and have grown out of it.
Also, make sure that any treatments or remedies used are offered in a low-key, non-threatening way. There is no need to keep stressing the child’s bedwetting throughout the day. Offer some therapy during the day but allow the child to play and just enjoy being a kid.
Let the child tell you when he or she has wet the bed
If your child wets the bed, make sure that siblings or other well-intentioned members of the household don’t announce “Johnny wet the bed -again.” This just leads to shaming.
Instead, it is often helpful to have a quiet time in the morning when your child can tell you himself or herself. Having a system (such as a calendar where the child marks wet and dry nights) can make it easier for the child to approach you, as there is a routine for sharing this information.
Let the child help
If it will help your child feel less embarrassed, let him or her help clean up. He or she can tidy up the pillows or fold the sheets. In some cases, this can make the child feel less inept and babyish, if they can be entrusted with a grownup chore. Plus, if they can help clean the bed they may feel in control of a small part of their bedwetting.
Do not make cleaning up a punishment, but rather offer it as a way to make the child more comfortable. A comment such as “would you like to put the pillowcases on the pillows to make your bed more comfortable?” makes it clear that the child is not being punished for wetting the bed.
Stay alert for bigger problems
In the big scheme of things, bedwetting is not a big problem. Your child is not in any danger of serious injury or harm if he or she occasionally or even regularly loses control of their bladder at night. To a child, however, it may not seem like a small problem. For this reason, as a parent, you must remain alert for signs of bigger problems.
If your child’s bedwetting causes them to feel so ashamed or upset that their regular lie is affected, then that is a serious problem. If their schoolwork is affected, then their bedwetting may affect their development as well. If children are bullying or teasing your child to the point that social activities are a problem, then your child may experience alarming signs of stress and depression. In any of these cases, swift action is needed to ensure that your child stays safe and happy.
If your child shows any of the following symptoms, he or she may be struggling more than you know and should be taken to a doctor or pediatrician to get help sorting out the emotions he or she could be felling:
- Sudden and big changes in appetite (eats a lot less or far more)
- Fearful or withdrawn with others
- Does not show interest in regular activities
- Does not spend time with others and does not want to spend time with others
- Cries, gets angry or is very quiet often
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of control of bladder during the day
- Grades dramatically worsen
- Bruising on the body or favorite toys are broken (may indicate bullying or self-destructive behavior)
If you notice these problems, you will want to seek more aggressive treatment for the bedwetting and you will want to visit a doctor or counselor to help your child deal with the problems caused by bedwetting.
Make sure that no medication is causing the problem
Check the side effects and directions on your child’s medication. If your child is taking any medications that cause extreme drowsiness or an urgent need to urinate, the medications may be causing the problem. Medications that make your child very tired may simply not allow your child’s body to wake him or her up in time to go to the bathroom.
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about any medication your child is taking and ask whether the substances may add to the bedwetting problem. Of course, your child may need medication that does not help his or her bedwetting, but in some cases doses or medications can be changed in order to prevent such side effects.