Wet Sheets, Dry Eyes
Bedwetting: And Why It’s Not So Bad
Summer is here, and for the majority of kids in America that means school is out and two months of freedom begins. A lot of kids will be heading off to camp, going on vacations with friends and family, and having tons of sleepovers. What a fun time, right? Well what if you're a bed-wetter? Camp, vacations, and sleepovers aren't so much fun when there is the constant threat of wet sheets and the shame and torment that accompanies them. So, how can we ensure our kids, and ourselves, that there is no reason to worry?
A parent’s instinct is to protect their kids. This is a very good thing, not only for physical health, but also for emotional health. But how do you protect your kid from a wet bottom – or rather the embarrassment and cruel teasing from other children that often come with it? Bed-wetting is one of those glorious challenges that can greatly impact both the physical and mental well being of your child. If your child is a bed-wetter, rest assured he is not alone. One in ten 7-year-olds and one in twenty 10-year-old kids wet the bed.
The best thing we can do to protect any child who is experiencing this phase in life is to minimize shame. Sure, we can drink fewer fluids before bed and reduce (or better yet, eliminate) caffeinated beverages, but with most cases of bed-wetting, it’s more than a matter of liquids. It’s a matter of internal communication between the brain and the bladder that can’t be rushed.
For some children, as they grow and develop, their bladder has a hard time getting the brain to wake up the body. There is nothing wrong with them. It’s just the body’s natural course of development. This is a phase their body is going through, and the majority of people simply grow out of it. Of course, sleeping away from home creates added stress. (As if your child’s developing brain doesn’t have enough to deal with!) But that fear shouldn’t keep your child (or you!) from experiencing one of the great joys of childhood summers – sleepovers, vacations, and sleep-away camps.
Here are a few things you can do to help prepare your child for an overnight stay away from home:
- Inform an adult wherever it is they are staying (grandparent, a friend’s parent, camp counselor, etc.) of your child’s situation, so they can help your child should an issue arise. Also, let them know that you prefer not to make a big deal of it one way or the other. Emphasize that if an accident happens there is no need to act surprised, overly secretive, or for them to overcompensate in any other way. Bedwetting happens… clean it up, be happy, and move on!
- Encourage your child to drink less after 6pm and to empty their bladder before going to bed. And ask the parent/supervising adult to help monitor this, too. Remember, it takes a village!
- Tell your child to avoid caffeinated beverages, especially closer to bedtime. You might choose to eliminate them altogether, but this can be understandably difficult, as many sleepovers are special occasions where treats like sodas may be included.
- You can use big kid diapers or youth briefs at bedtime for the duration of their stay. Remember, your child is potty trained – this is not the problem – they just need a little help to keep those sheets dry at night. Try these out at home first. Your child may feel more comfortable with wet sheets than with special nighttime under garments.
The bottom line (no pun intended!) is that bed-wetting is an issue that a lot of kids deal with. In fact, if you or another adult whom your child knows and looks up to is a former bed-wetter share that info with your child! It helps to know It’s entirely natural, and it is no reason to miss out on the fun. With understanding, taking a few preventative measures, and educating your child you can protect your child from the stigma of bedwetting and, more importantly, they can begin to protect themselves.
Authors’ Note: While bedwetting is a normal part of development for many children and it is relatively common for children to wet the bed after age 7, it is generally advised to visit your pediatrician in order to rule out more serious issues if your child wets the bed and is older than 7, if they have had dry sheets for several months and then begin wetting the bed, or if other symptoms accompany the bedwetting.
Justin and Le-Anne Noble are co-creators of the children’s book series My Body Village and MyBodyVillage.com. Justin is a certified nutrition coach and Le-Anne is an expert in children’s entertainment. To learn more, visit: www.mybodyvillage.com.