It’s the middle of the night, I hear familiar footsteps heading for my bedroom door, creak and then a tentative hand lands on my back. “Mommy (sob) I…I wet the bed”, says a shaky voice in the darkness. We needed a plan! You may also wonder, like me, what are the best bedwetting solutions for embarrassed kids and frustrated parents?
There we go again the mission of stripping bed linen, finding new linen, mopping up dampness from a mattress, changing pajamas, rinsing out wet pajamas (or throwing them into the bath to deal with in the morning!) and ultimately trying to settle a very disorientated, upset child back into their bed – and all in the middle of the night! Bed-wetting is surely worse than a bad nightmare!
And when this continues for a multiple days in a row (with linen piling up next to the washing machine) everyone starts to get a little more on edge!
Bedwetting is actually more common than one realizes and in South Africa the reality is that 16% of children between the ages of 5 and 10 wet their bed. The good news is that we are not alone! There are some strong emotions that emerge for both child and parent in this situation- I have personally felt angry, annoyed, frustrated and my child probably embarrassed, humiliated and shamed.
As a parent I have unfortunately had firsthand experience of the frustration of these middle of the night accidents. As a teacher I have heard from many other parents of the annoyance and frustration over bedwetting children. For slightly older children this problem can also start to limit their social lives as sleep overs become a no-go and nights at the grandparents also become a hurdle.
After numerous conversations on this topic I did some reading up on this problem. Surely there is a fix for this one? Which modern parent really has time for the inconvenience associated with this issue?! How can we as parents limit the emotional impact on our children I this situation? Well the truth is that bedwetting is a rite of passage that children go through- with a varied time span for different children.
The vast majority of bed wetting experiences are actually caused by the bladder involuntarily releasing urine.
This information changed the way I viewed the whole scenario- my child was not being naughty, and they actually had very little control over this whole thing after all. Involuntary is involuntary! So where did that leave me? What advice would I give to parents whose children are in this bedwetting stage?
Tackling Bed Wetting like a Pro
Stop stressing and chill out
Yes, this is REALLY hard in the middle of the night. I found the more nonchalant I was, the quicker the whole episode passed. The more relaxed I was, the easier it was for my child to resettle back to bed.
This too shall pass
Repeat these words- This too shall pass. Yes as with some of the other slightly more irritating phases with kids, this one too will end.
Limit Liquids after 4pm
Limit liquids after 4pm. Thanks goes to my mom for this wise advise, less liquid in means less liquid out. I made sure that my child drank more liquid in the first half of the day rather than in the late afternoon. This applies to all age kids!
Preparation is key
Preparation is key. Have the right mattress protectors, easily accessible spare linen. Suitable sized discreet wearable night protection such as DryNites are an essential! We gave these a special name and so our child did not associate them with nappies at all but rather viewed them as night underwear. Explaining what these do for a child is important. Do a little science experiment and let your child see how they absorb liquid- this is actually great fun! Let them pour water into them so that they can see how they will ‘catch the wee’. This can really help put their anxiety at ease about night bed wetting! Having confidence that there won’t be any accident can give the slightly older child confidence to sleep over at grannies and even at friends. Investing in the right protection is key. DryNites are a product perfectly suited to slightly older kids as they come in two sizes, 4-7 and 8-15!
Watch your language
No I don’t mean those bad words (although the frustration might reach that point!) I mean the words you use in talking about this topic with your child. Steer clear from ‘You are a big boy now so…’, ‘Stop being so naughty’, ‘Try harder not to do this you have made such a mess!’. Remember if it is involuntary they can’t control it so you are setting them up to feel like a failure. Rather be encouraging and supportive in your words. Use phrases like, ‘Let’s use this to help you have a comfortable night sleep, one day your body won’t need them anymore’ and ‘Many kids have the same situation’.
Don’t forget a loo stop before bed
Set up some loo routines. Along with regular loo breaks during the day. Don’t forget a loo stop before bed. This was vital in our bedtime routine. Starting on empty really helped us!
No rewards besides love and reassurance
Teachers love rewards – stickers, sweeties, ticks and stars. I would avoid all behaviour modification charts and incentives for this one. These put unnecessary pressure on your child and in the end made no difference at all in our house. It actually probably did more harm than good as stress has been cited as a contributing factor to this problem. Let your child get through this at their own pace and in time, with your support it will come right.
No gold stars here then but here’s hoping that your sleep is golden!
Preparation rather than reaction is key to minimizing the stress of these scenarios so have a look at the new DryNites Pajama Pants which are discreet, comfortable night time protection for bigger kids. They are made of special silent material (perfect for preventing unwanted attention), they contain very absorbent material and are comfortable to sleep in. Their design also allows one to pull them on and off just like traditional underwear.
Isn’t is really great that there is now an option for older kids? This one helps keep their dignity and will go a step further to letting everyone in the household get a full night sleep!
Disclaimer: This article is based on personal experience and the ideas, methods and suggestions are not based on medical research. If you suspect a deeper psychological cause or suspect an underlying physiological problem remember that there are plenty of professionals available to assist.