How To Help A Child Overcome Bedwetting

Written by on May 22, 2013 in Family - No comments | Print this page


childs roomEnuresis, the medical term for bedwetting, is incredibly common and affects over half a million children between the ages of six and 16.

Unfortunately, both children and parents are embarrassed by it and fail to seek the help they need.

Not only does this prolong the problem – bedwetting only clears up without treatment in around one in six children – it can also affect a child’s confidence and social development.

Children who wet the bed have been shown to suffer from lower self-esteem and feel isolated from their peers. With a little intervention, however, it’s a problem that can soon be tackled.

1. Is there a problem? Bedwetting isn’t considered a medical problem unless it continues after the age of five. Most children are dry at night by the age of three or four, but there can be a huge variation in the age at which this is achieved, even within the same family.

2. Remember it’s not deliberate. Children who wet the bed are not doing it for attention or to be ‘difficult’. There are numerous medical and psychological reasons behind bedwetting.

3. Chat with your CP. Some children find it difficult to wake up, even if their bladder is full. Others produce too much urine at night. Temporary conditions, such as a urine infection, can also cause bedwetting. Your family doctor should be your first port of call.

4. Is stress playing a part? Family strife, bullying, mental or physical abuse, school worries – all sorts of crises can trigger bedwetting. If there’s no apparent medical explanation, could something be upsetting your child? This is especially true if a previously ‘dry’ child suddenly starts wetting the bed.

5. Offer reassurance. Don’t punish or humiliate your child. Explain that it’s a very common condition and that you’ll try to sort it out together.

6. Take practical steps. Buy a waterproof mattress cover, leave the bathroom light on at night so that your child can find it easily, and always have spare nightclothes and bedding to hand in case she has an accident. Older children may want to change their pyjamas and bedclothes themselves.

7. Help your child to make some changes. Encourage your child to drink during the day instead of late in the evening; to wee twice before bedtime; and to cut out tea, coffee and cola (the caffeine these drinks contain is a diuretic, which makes your child’s kidneys produce more urine).

8. Consider an alarm. An enuresis alarm, which can ring or vibrate when the first drop of urine hits the mattress, helps train your child into getting up at night to wee. Success usually takes about three months, but it’s currently the most effective form of treatment.

Consider medical help. Desmopressin can be prescribed by your CP. It usually comes as a nasal spray or tablet, and works by slowing the production of urine overnight. Success rates are about 70 per cent, but the effects are usually immediate.

9. Find support. ERIC Online (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence) has a wonderful website at and a helpline (0845 370 8008) to help you stay positive.

Sheryl Pouls is a mother of two and a fan of novelist Nicholas Sparks. She lives in Gladwyne.

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