by Tom Jackson, M.D.
When it comes to the problem of children wetting the bed, the consolation for most parents is that children usually outgrow bedwetting. However, this is not always the case. And even when a child does eventually outgrow nocturnal enuresis, much of the psychological damage from the problem has already occurred. Fortunately, there is much you as a parent can do to help shepherd your child through and past these experiences with self-esteem intact.
Do NOT get angry with your child.
More important than what you do may be what you don’t do. That is, whatever actions you decide to take, never get angry with him, blame him, put him down, embarrass him, punish him, or spank him.
Reassure your child.
If your child wets the bed, first and foremost reassure him that the problem is common and not his fault. Assure him you know he’s not wetting the bed on purpose. Above all emphasize the behavior doesn’t make him a bad person. Encourage your child to communicate openly with you about his bedwetting, while at the same time supporting discretion and protecting his privacy regarding the matter. Remain watchful that siblings don’t tease, embarrass, or humiliate him for having the problem. A convenient side benefit of giving your child compassionate support is that doing so tends to decrease recurrences of bedwetting.
Encourage more fluids during the daytime.
Proper hydration, ironically, actually plays a major role in preventing bedwetting. Many children avoid drinking fluids all day, only to guzzle down large quantities at night. Additionally, many children wait to drink anything until they’re parched, at which point they often drink sugary, caffeinated beverages to squelch their thirst, only making the problem worse, because caffeine and sugar actually promote increased urination. So having your child drink small amounts regularly throughout the day can help avoid nighttime issues.
Have a doctor examine your child to rule out medical causes.
If bedwetting seems a chronic problem for your child, consult your child’s pediatrician in order to rule out any underlying medical causes that can be appropriately treated. If a child’s bedwetting is accompanied by poor daytime bladder control more serious medical concerns are more likely involved. So, too, may be the case if your child’s bedwetting is accompanied by pain in the urinary tract while urinating, or by back pain, abdominal pain, or fever. If the urine has a strong, unpleasant odor or if the child awakens regularly in the middle of the night intensely thirsty, a pediatrician’s counsel is also wise.
…more tips about bedwetting!
Dr. Tom Jackson is a psychiatrist who has specialized in the treatment of sleep disorders and anxiety for the past thirty years. He is the creator of the DreamChild™ Adventures audio programs and author of the companion guide, DreamChild™ Adventures in Relaxation and Sleep (August 2012). He is currently Medical Director of a public mental health clinic and in private practice. For more information, please visit www.3DAudioMagic.com. and www.ThomasJacksonMD.com