Bed wetting or nocturnal enuresis is very common in children under the age of six. According to the National Sleep Foundation it is estimated that seven million children in the U.S. wet their bed on a regular basis. It is more common in boys than girls and it usually runs in families.
If your child is a bed wetter it can be a very trying time for you but even worse for your child. He may feel guilty and embarrassed and behavioral problems may develop stemming from these feelings. It is very important that you explain to your child that it is not his fault.
A child does not wet the bed because he is too lazy to get up to go to the bathroom at night and children do not wet the bed to upset their parents or to get attention. The process of controlling the bladder at night is usually the last stage of potty training and bed wetting up to the age of five is very common but parents need to keep in mind that most children will eventually stop naturally. If a child continues to wet the bed more than twice a month after the age of six, medical intervention may be needed. Some of the causes of bed wetting after the age of six may be:
• Difficulties waking up when asleep
• Slower than normal development of the central nervous system-which makes it hard for the child to stop the bladder from emptying at night
• Urinary tract infections
• Inability to hold urine for a long time due to a smaller than normal bladder
• Hormonal factors such as not enough anti-diuretic hormone which reduces the amount of urine made in the kidneys
• Abnormalities in the urethral valve in boys and the ureter in girls or boys
Bed wetting will usually go away all on its own but until your child is able to have dry nights it is very important to provide love and support and to try and stay positive. Make sure to tell your child that bed wetting is a normal part of his development and it won’t last forever.
Try to remind your child to empty his bladder before he goes to sleep at night and limit the amount of liquids he consumes before bed. When your child wakes up with wet sheets have him help you change the sheets not as a punishment but more to have him feel better because he has helped you out.
If your child suddenly starts wetting the bed after being consistently dry for six months or more or if your child begins to wet his pants during the day or complains about a burning feeling when he urinates it is a good idea to call your doctor.
Finally, try to be patient with your child as he is going through this process and offer lots of hugs. You must never punish your child for wetting the bed. He is feeling bad enough and getting angry will only have a negative affect on his already fragile self-esteem. If you are concerned about your child’s bed wetting talk to your family doctor, even if it is just to be reassured that this is a normal part of your child’s development and this too shall pass.
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