Parent's Guide to Bed Wetting

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When a child experiences problems with bed wetting, both parents and children may feel frustrated. By understanding normal childhood development, you can determine whether your child’s behavior is nothing unusual, or whether your child may need some extra help and guidance to stay dry all night.

Bed-Wetting Statistics

  • While most children develop nighttime bladder control by the age of 3, about 15 percent of kids continue to wet the bed past this age, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry’s website. Bed wetting often runs in families, and more boys than girls experience issues with bed wetting.

Possible Causes

  • Sometimes children who exhibit bed-wetting behaviors have smaller than average bladders, according to the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. A child who frequently wets the bed often has not gained control of the muscles preventing urination during sleep. Although emotional distress often has a connection with bed wetting, generally it is not a cause of bed wetting unless a child has achieved nighttime dryness, and then reverts to bed wetting.

What Helps and What Doesn’t

  • Avoid punishing your child for wetting the bed, counsels the MedlinePlus website. Deal with bed wetting in a matter-of-fact manner to clean up the mess. Try limiting the amount of liquid your child drinks between dinner and bedtime, advises the Mayo Clinic website. Suggest that your child use the toilet at the beginning of the bedtime routine and again immediately before climbing into bed. Place a nightlight in your child’s room to illuminate the way to the bathroom and encourage your child to get up if he needs to use the toilet in the middle of the night. Encourage your child to use the toilet at least every two hours during the day to eliminate any feelings of urgency connected to urination.

Professional Help

  • Seek professional assessment if your child was dry for six months and bed wetting occurs again, suggests the Kids Health website. Other symptoms that indicate the need for a professional assessment include snoring, pain upon urination, frequent urination, a change in eating or drinking habits, swelling in the lower extremities and bed wetting that persists past the age of 7. A professional will examine your child to rule out physical causes. Your child may receive either physical treatment to learn to control bladder muscles, prescription medication or cognitive therapy to resolve the bed-wetting issues.

References

  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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