Talking to your children
Though you can’t control your child’s bedwetting – it’s common and a natural part of the transition from toilet training to total bladder control – you can most certainly control the way you speak with your child about bedwetting. The way you speak with your child can actually have a significant impact on your child as he makes the transition from diapers to dry nights. Here are 10 things you might want to communicate to your child:
- Bedwetting is common: Tell your child that he’s not the only one his age who still wets the bed. One out of five young children contend with bedwetting as they transition beyond potty training.
- Bedwetting is hereditary: If you, your spouse or another close family member wet the bed as a kid, let your child know. It may help him understand that bedwetting runs in families, is not his fault, and is something that people eventually outgrow.
- It’s not your child’s fault: Explain to your child that bedwetting is not his fault. He’s not wetting the bed because he’s lazy or not trying hard enough. Causes include a small bladder or a tendency to sleep so deeply that the urge to pee doesn’t wake you.
- A doctor may be able to help: Let your child know that it might be worth speaking to his pediatrician to rule out an underlying medical issue and discuss methods that might help your child make it through the night dry.
- There are treatment options that might help: Discuss various treatment options with your child – alarms, medication and changes in behavior – that might serve to alleviate the issue, and let your child know what each method entails and what to expect.
- Changing habits might help: Let your child know that going to the bathroom right before bedtime, steering clear of caffeinated drinks and salty foods and limiting liquids before bedtime might make it easier to make it through the night dry.
- Accidents are no big deal: Be reassuring, calm and upbeat. When your child wets the bed, tell him not to worry. Let him know that, in time, he’ll consistently have dry nights. Offer praise and encouragement all along the way and don’t be afraid to celebrate successes.
- Don’t miss out on sleepovers: Encourage your child to go to sleepovers, slumber parties or away to camp – and enlist disposable underwear, medication and other adults (parents, counselors) for help.
- Is it OK to share? Ask your child if he minds if you let other adults who might help – a parent at a sleepover, a camp counselor – about his bedwetting. Many kids don’t mind, but if your child says no, honor his request.
- Your child can help: Let your child know that he can help change and wash the wet sheets. This is not to be done as a punishment, but rather as a self-esteem boost: Many kids feel better if they are included in tackling the issue. It can give them a sense of control. You should work together, and praise your child for his participation.
Make sure your child knows that you are open and available to discuss the issue, that you don’t blame him, that there is no shame in bedwetting. And don’t blame yourself, either. A child’s bedwetting is not a parental failure: It’s genetic and beyond either your or your child’s control. Whatever you do, don’t punish or get angry with your child. He’s not wetting the bed to make your life miserable – or because he’s too lazy or not trying hard enough. Keep in mind that the vast majority of children simply outgrow bedwetting, and try to be patient.