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Coping with bedwetting in children

There are a certain things that children are comfortable sharing with their friends, such as the latest video game they got as a present, what they did over the weekend, or their favourite superhero series, etc. And then, there are things that they dread others will come to know of, such as how they accidentally wore their underwear inside out, or the day they wet their bed when asleep.

What is bedwetting?

The act of wetting the bed in sleep is known as 'bedwetting'. The medical term for bedwetting is nocturnal enuresis (pronounced as en-yoo-REE-sus). It can run in the family. Just like children inherit their mom's blue eyes or an uncle's long legs, it is possible for them to inherit the problem of bedwetting.


There are various reasons behind this. Some children wet their beds because of mental disturbances such as family break-ups, pressure at school or fear of going to school, health problems and other varied reasons. In such cases, the problem of bedwetting usually stops when the child feels secure and is free of the stress.

The first and foremost thing to remember is that no one wets the bed on purpose. Wetting the bed doesn't mean that the child is too lazy to step into the bathroom. For some reason, children who wet the bed are not able to feel their full bladders and don't wake up to use the toilet. Sometimes, children who wet the bed will have realistic dreams that they are in the bathroom urinating, only to wake up later to discover themselves in a wet pool.

They are not alone

Millions of kids and teenagers from every part of the world wet their bed every single night. It's so common that there might be other kids in the class who do it too. But most children don't tell their friends, and feel alone, like they are the only ones on the whole planet who do it. But it is not so. There are some kids who wet the bed every night in a row, while there are others who do this occasionally.

Effect on the child

Whether the child wets the bed frequently or rarely, the parents must not punish, criticise or tease the child and not let the others do the same, especially in schools when schoolmates come to know about it. This can make the problems worse for the child.

While most children with the problem grow out of it, their self-confidence can sometimes be dampened. If bedwetting seems to be causing stress or worries, the teacher/parent must make sure that the child feels better. Giving the child lots of encouragement, making the child feel confident and making the child feel loved is what helps the most.

The good thing is that almost all children who wet the bed eventually stop it on their own. But if the problem still persists, it would be a better option to consult the doctor regarding it.

What should the teachers/parents do?

1. Reassuring the child that bedwetting is normal

As mentioned above, keeping the child’s self confidence in check is important. Maybe, talking about someone else in the family who used to wet the bed might help. Also, telling the child that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and that he/she will grow out of it will help immensely.

2. Telling the child to drink more fluids in the day and less in the night

Making sure that the child drinks more fluids during the day, and less at night. Also, asking the child to avoid soft drinks that contain caffeine as they increase the amount of urine produced.

3. Remind to use the bathroom before going to bed

Developing a habit in the child to use the toilet one final time before going to sleep is a healthy practice.

4. Leaving a dim light on

A soft light can be left on at night, so that the child can get up at night to use the toilet.

School camps and sleepovers

Children often try to avoid going out for school camps or sleepovers at friend’s place in the worry of wetting the bed and the embarrassment that might follow. Teachers and parents can encourage children not to miss out on such fun times just because of the fear of being embarrassed in front of friends.

There is medical help that teachers/parents can sought for their child who is about to go for overnight outings. The parents can take the child to a doctor a couple of weeks before the camp or sleepover, to test whether the treatment is helping the child or not.

If need be, the parent can approach the child's teacher and have a private discussion about the child's bedwetting habit and how it can be managed in the camp or school trip. Talking to the child to let him/her know regarding what to do if he/she wets the bed in the camp, is necessary. Boasting the child's morale is very important.

The teachers in turn must be sensitive when dealing with such children without embarrassing them in front of others.

In cases where the child is going for a sleepover at a friend's place, the parents of the child wetting the bed, discussing with the friend's parents on how to best manage the situation, is an ideal recommendation. The child should be given the confidence and should be encouraged to approach the elder at home to talk or share anything if he/she wants to, after (if) he/she wets the bed.


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