Bed-wetting: How to help your child cope emotionally

Bed-wetting: How to help your child cope emotionally

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As kids get older, they may feel increasingly self-conscious about having nighttime accidents. Now you're dealing with hurt feelings as well as soggy sheets. Here's how to offer your child emotional support.

When kids feel bad about themselves because they wet the bed

No matter how often you reassure your child that bed-wetting is something she can't control and it's not her fault, she still may feel shame or embarrassment. To address your child's very real concerns, it helps to be ready for these common things kids say.

If your child says:

"There's something wrong with me." Double down on reassurances that bed-wetting is completely normal – that some kids' bodies just take longer to stay dry at night. Emphasize in your language about bed-wetting the idea that "it's not you, it's your body." "You don't wet the bed. Your body is just taking its time being ready to wake itself up at night to use the bathroom."

If you take bed-wetting in stride, your child is far more likely to do the same.

"I'm the only kid who wets the bed." Give him numbers. About 5 million kids in the United States wet their bed, including 10 percent of 7-year-olds and 5 percent of 10-year-olds, according to the Academy of Pediatrics. Put the numbers in a context your child can understand: At age 7, that's 1 in every 10 kids. That means there are probably kids in his classroom, on his soccer team, or in his Cub Scout troop with the same problem.

Find ways to combat four myths about bed-wetting.

"I can't go to a sleepover or camp because kids will find out I wet the bed." Missing out on overnight social events is a tough one for kids. Acknowledge your child's concerns and then offer some practical solutions, such as packing disposable underwear and a zip-top plastic bag at the bottom of her sleeping bag.

Find strategies for coping with bed-wetting at sleepovers and bed-wetting at camp.

"Don't tell anyone I wet the bed!" Reassure your child that you won't tell anyone who doesn't need to know, but point out that sometimes it's important to tell other adults who can help – for example, his grandparents if he spends the night at their house.

Remind him that relatives, friends' parents, and teachers probably know other kids who wet the bed and can respect his privacy.

When kids worry that they'll be teased about wetting the bed

Being teased and even just the fear of being teased about bed-wetting are legitimate concerns for kids.

If your child says:

"I'm afraid kids will tease me if they find out I wet the bed." Help her figure out strategies to deal with teasing, in case her worst fears come true. Remind her that kids tease to get a reaction, so ignoring the teaser and walking away can be an effective way to stop the teasing.

If she'd like to have some comebacks ready, role-play scenarios at home. The more prepared she feels, the easier it'll be to stay calm. Practice can help your child feel confident enough to say something matter-of-fact and go about her business.

To a friend, she can say: "'This happens to lots of kids. You're nice, so I know you won't tease me, right?" If another kid discovers her disposable underwear at a sleepover, she can say, "Yes, I wear these because I'm a sound sleeper, and sometimes my body doesn't wake me up to use the bathroom." And there's always the classic, "So what?"

Get firsthand advice about how to handle teasing from a 12-year-old former bed-wetter.

"I don't want to go to school." When a kid who's normally happy in the morning drags his feet, complains of mysterious stomachaches, starts to have academic problems, or wants to quit extracurricular activities. it could be he's being teased or bullied.

Don't brush it off or make light of his concerns. Try to find out what's going on. Talk to his teachers to see if they've observed anything and ask for their suggestions and help.

Find out how to help your child develop skills for dealing with bullies.

"I'm sick of my sister making fun of me!" Realistically, you probably can't stop your other kids from making fun of their sibling for wetting the bed, but you can repeat as often as necessary that your home is a strict no-teasing zone.

If teasing happens, talk to the offending sibling. Ask how it feels to be teased. Explain that bed-wetting doesn't mean his brother or sister is a "baby" – it just means his body is taking longer to stay dry at night. Stress how important it is never to tease their sibling about bed-wetting in front of other children.

Find out more about talking to kids about a brother or sister who wets the bed.

Watch the video: Understanding your young bedwetting child (December 2022).

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