What Are The Most Common Reasons Children Wet The Bed?
If you’re so sick of washing soiled sheets you could scream, this article is for you.
Some kids seem to nighttime potty train with great ease—but others take several years to master this skill. If your child is in the latter category, you may look around wondering why everyone else’s child is night-trained and what could possibly be wrong with yours. The truth is, bedwetting is common, and the reasons can be quite predictable.
Read on to learn about contributing factors and what you can do to address them.
Dr. Fran Walfish
Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills and NYC-based family and relationship psychotherapist, author, The Self-Aware Parent, regular expert child psychologist on The Doctors, CBS TV, and co-star on WE tv. Web: drfranwalfish.com
Number of possible causes
There are a number of possible causes and issues surrounding bedwetting.
The first is immature bladder where the child takes a bit longer to read her body's cues messaging her that her bladder is full and she needs to release urine.
Another issue can be anxiety. Many children who hold high levels of anxiety during the daytime often "let-go" and relax during sleep and the outcome is [a wet bed]. In some instances, I have treated a number of young boys up to even age 8 years old who still have urinary accidents. There is a belief among some professionals that this may go along with certain children who have ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
These kids do not want to stop and interrupt the activity they are involved in so they hold their urine too long. This is due to an over-focus trait of some children with ADHD. Whatever the cause, it is helpful for parents to do the following:
- Do not make a big fuss, criticize, or punish your child over bedwetting.
- Have your child participate in self-cleanup so that you are not doing all the hard work.
- Make him self-reliant. He can strip the bed of wet linens and help put clean, fresh sheets on the bed. He can also use 'wipes' to clean himself and put new PJ's on. This will motivate him to use the toilet (less work).
On occasion, I have recommended a pulsating buzzer the child wears on his pajama bottoms. It acts like the old-fashioned pagers. It buzzes at the first drop of moisture, teaching the child to wake up and pee in the toilet versus in his PJ's. This device has been successful with many of my patients.
MereAnn Reid, MA, LPC, is a child & family therapist in Portland, OR, offering play therapy, family counseling, and parent coaching. She specializes in adoption and attachment and often works with toileting concerns. Web: mereannreid.com
Many kids just can't master this skill until they're old enough for their brain and body to communicate and take action to rouse them—[which is] especially challenging during deep sleep. Simply, the signal from a full bladder has to coordinate with both the nervous system's regulation hub and the brain's executive function mechanisms to recognize the urge, wake a kid up, and get them to the toilet on time. For most kids, this brain-body maturity is a basic matter of chronological readiness.
Heredity + Stress - Family history and awake-time stress play a role, too. If a parent mastered this skill later (after age 5-7) their biological children may grow into it later, too. Nighttime wetting can be common for kids who rev especially high--either in physical energy or anxious worry--during the day. After spending a lot of time being hypervigilant during awake hours, they crash extra-hard at night, and the need-to-pee signal just doesn't make their radar because they're so deeply asleep and finally relaxed.
Katherine Bihlmeier from Im Moment Sein is a parenting expert, book author, and former kindergarten educator. In her upcoming book "The Soul on Fire,” she's showing women how to create truly fulfilling lives for themselves, covering topics ranging from parenting, relationships and sex, to money, career, success and living your true purpose.
Stress, Communication and Fear
Stress - Kids are very aware of their surroundings and the situation in the family, which has an enormous effect on their bodies. When there is any imbalance, it can be very stressful for their body, which may show up through wetting the bed.
Communication - Sometimes wetting the bed can be a call for attention from the parents. There might be something going on in the child or the family, which the kid is unable to channel or express in another way.
Fear - Wetting the bed might also be a signal that the kid is scared of something or someone, or aware of the fear and panic happening in someone around them.
And a final note: Please, never address wetting the bed as a problem and don't make the child wrong. Children never do anything with the intention of causing a problem, they are mostly just mirroring what is going on in the family system. So rather, look at your kid's surroundings and the situation in the family. What might be causing this? What is wetting the bed signaling to you as a parent? And then work at changing the actual cause.
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD, is a board-certified family physician, co-founder, and project manager of MedAlertHelp. He also serves as a medical advisor for the wonderful authors at HealthCareers.
Sleep and Weak bladder
Disturbed sleep - Kids whose sleep is often disturbed by noise, or kids who usually sleep deeply, are more likely to wet their beds.
Weak bladder - Some kids need more time than others to develop the control of their bladder fully, and this is when they might experience bed wetting.
Brooke Weiss is a certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with over 17 years of nursing experience. You can find her sharing her knowledge at Simply Well Family.
A common reason that children continue with nighttime wetting, after being daytime potty trained, is a lack of communication from the bladder to the brain. It is common for a child's brain to not realize their bladder is full during sleep, until they are between 5 and 7 years old. The age in which that communication begins is hereditary. So if a parent did not nighttime potty train until they were a little older, the same might occur for their child(ren).
When it's time to take on potty training, equip yourself with added support to make it a success. Purchase your daytime and nighttime trainers today.
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