Bed-wetting is a pervasive issue that most people have experienced either as kids themselves, or with their kids. It is a normal phase of childhood and about 95% children grow out of bed-wetting by the time they are six.
Yet, it is one of the most closeted and misunderstood children’s issues. Many parents believe in a gamut of myths regarding bed-wetting and some even punish the child for it. The child in turn, is reinforced in the very incorrect and unfortunate belief that it is all his fault and comes to consider this an embarrassing lifelong secret. These children end up missing important experiences in life such as sleeping over at someone else’s place or attending school camps. They may even isolate themselves in hostels, where they have to live with other children of their age and risk ridicule if this ‘secret’ is discovered. This article helps you understand the causes of bed-wetting and suggests solutions to stop it.
What causes bed-wetting?
Bed-wetting in children usually occurs because they have small bladders, which fill up quickly and need to be emptied often. Young children haven’t developed the strong sensory urge to get out of the bed and go to the bathroom to urinate and often lack sufficient voluntary control on urination.
In some children, inefficient potty training is the culprit. Research indicates that genetic factors also cause bed-wetting – children who face this issue frequently had one or both parents, who were bed wetters as kids.
Only about 10% children continue bed-wetting into their teens.
How to cure bed-wetting?
Most parents are advised to stay calm and let the child grow out of it on her own, and that is what usually happens. Paediatric Nephrologist, Dr Pankaj Deshpande, however, differs. He says, “Many parents adopt the ostrich attitude — they feel if they ignore it long enough, it will go away. This doesn't work and leads to irritation and frustration in the family.”
Along with being an embarrassing problem that restricts children’s social lives, bed-wetting could be a symptom of a deeper issue such as depression, anxiety, bullying in school or any emotionally overwhelming event such as death or even the birth of a sibling. Counselling is usually effective in such cases.
Dr Deshpande advises parents to keep track of the ‘dry days’ of the child and mark them on the calendar. Using this, the child can be encouraged to maintain and gradually exceed the target of ‘dry days’. Avoiding caffeinated drinks and excessive fluid intake less than two hours before bedtime often helps control night time urination.
Television actress Suzanne Somers is said to have got rid of this habit by using a bed-wetting alarm, which is commonly available in stores these days.
Bed-wetting can also be controlled with pharmaceutical drugs, which should be administered on medical supervision Until the child stops wetting the bed, usage of absorbent material and diapers will enable the child to enjoy social outings without risking embarrassment.
What not to do at any rate?
Although most children stop bed-wetting with time, it’s not a recommended approach for parents to simply ignore it while it persists. Dr Janet Hall, author of ‘How to stop bed-wetting’ says, “In the long run, however, waiting may often cause extreme frustration for the child and the parents. It is especially damaging to the child’s self-esteem.”
On the other hand, shaming, blaming and punishing the child is also a counter-productive approach. "Shouting at your child will not stop him from wetting the bed. It might cause him to slip into depression, and even lose his appetite," says Dr Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist. It may even close down all communication channels for the child with the parent, thereby worsening the problem.
Dr Deshpande says, "It's not a lack of effort on the part of the child that causes him to wet the bed. There are a number of factors at work that are beyond his control. Also, bed-wetting is involuntary. Therefore, it’s unfair to label the child as ‘too lazy to get up’.”
People rarely carry over their childhood habit of bed-wetting into adulthood. So, every parent has a good reason to believe, this is just a phase that will pass with adequate care. All you need is empathy and patience.
To know more about Ways To Stop Bedwetting In Children go through the pages of this ClipBook.