by Aruna Kamath
Your five-year potty-trained child is fine by day, but still wets the bed at night. You have reason enough to be concerned and worried, but it’s nothing really serious to lose sleep over. Though, technically, your child should have outgrown this problem by now, statistics show that about 15% of children still wet the bed at the age of 5. Boys, thrice as much as girls!
Bedwetting, medically called nocturnal enuresis, is one of the most common childhood complaints. Often, parents blame themselves for poor parenting and worry no-end about it. But it’s neither your fault nor the child’s. In fact, you’ll be surprised to know that bedwetting is more of a physiological problem than a behavioural one. It is also very common for a completely dry-by-night child to suddenly start wetting again.
When dealing with this problem, one of the most important things to keep in mind is not to accuse the child. It could further dent his confidence levels and delay your efforts to help the child overcome the problem. All you need is ample doses of patience and a clearer understanding of why this is happening.
What causes bedwetting?
Doctors are still not sure what causes bedwetting. But it is a natural part of growing up and the child will eventually outgrow it.
It’s all in the genes: Research shows that bedwetting is hereditary. So if one parent has had this problem as a child, then it is very likely that you could pass it on to the child.
Small Bladder: Kids who have small, underdeveloped bladders will not be able to hold the urine produced during the night – hence the need to empty it.
Delayed Bladder Control: A development lag in bladder control may also be one of the causes of bedwetting.
Deep Sleeper: In a sound sleeper, the brain does not get the signal that the bladder is full. So he does not wake up when his bladder is full.
Constipation: When the child is constipated, the bowels put pressure on the bladder, thus causing uncontrolled bladder contractions, and making it hard for the child to hold the urine.
Hormone Imbalance: Some kids don’t produce enough anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) to slow nighttime urine production.
Bedwetting: When should you start worrying?
- If your child is bedwetting during the day
- If your child continues to wet the bed after 7 years
- If the child has been dry at night for six months or more, and suddenly starts to wet the bed again
- If your child is upset by bedwetting
What you should not do?
Bedwetting is not in your child’s control and hence it is not his fault. So don’t:
- Criticize or chide your child
- Do not embarrass your child by talking about it in other’s presence
- Do not compel your child to wear plastic pants or nappies if he is embarrassed by it.
How can you help your child?
- Reassurance is very important. Tell your child it’s no one’s fault.
- Have patience … tons of it! Blowing your top will only make matters worse.
- Let your child know that he is not alone and that many kids have the same problem.
- If you, your spouse, or anyone in the family has had bedwetting issues as kids, let your child know about it. It will make him feel a lot better.
- Don’t make a fuss after wetting episodes. Show your gentler side even if you are angry.
- Limit fluids before bedtime – at least two hours before bedtime
- Praise your child if he has attempted to get up in the night to use the toilet. Or if bedwetting frequency has reduced.
- Give the child plenty of fluids during the day. This will help the bladder to get used to holding larger quantity of urine and help the child manipulate bladder control
- Get your child to wee before bedtime
- Wake up the child during the night to empty the bladder.