Health Psychology

Bed-wetting: not a question of toilet training

Written by Dana Peterson

Bed-wetting: not a question of toilet training. Many children still go to bed at night when they are five years old or older. It becomes problematic when bed-wetting disturbs sleep very much and stresses parents and children.

Bed-wetting: not a question of toilet training
It becomes problematic when bed-wetting disturbs sleep very much and stresses parents and children.

Getting dry takes time

Most children are also dry at night by the age of five. This means that they wake up and go to the bathroom alone or with the help of their parents when the bladder squeezes. But at least every sixth child at this age occasionally only wakes up when they already wet their bed. For some, it happens once or twice a month, while others wet themselves at night several times a week. In most cases, however, the children will still dry out on their own.

Bed-wetting becomes a problem when it is very stressful for the child or the family. Bed-wetting, for example, can put an enormous strain on older children in particular – five percent of ten-year-olds still wet them. Out of shame and fear of “discovery”, they often limit themselves considerably in their social life.

They may avoid school trips or spend the night with friends which is not good for their psychology.

Some children just don’t wake up in time with a full bladder

The main reason for the nocturnal wetting is that the connection between a full bladder and waking up has not yet been established in the affected children. So the kids are not too lazy or too comfortable, they just don’t wake up when their bladders are full. This is attributed to a maturation disorder of the central nervous system, which is probably hereditary. In this respect, science has meanwhile been able to dispel many prejudices. It has been shown that toilet training has no effect on drying out at night. Even the assumption that wetting is mentally conditioned is now considered out of date. Stressful life events (divorce of parents, entry into school) can, however, cause a child to wet again after a dry phase of more than six months (secondary wetting).

In some but rather rare cases, diseases or disorders of the bladder can also be the cause of wetting. Nocturnal wetting has only very little to do with how much a child drinks during the day or in the evening. The age-appropriate amount of water should be consumed in a balanced manner throughout the day, although your child should of course always drink when they are thirsty. Going to the toilet before going to bed should be a matter of course. Caffeinated drinks such as cola, energy drinks, tea or coffee are not only stimulating, but also have a diuretic effect and can promote bedwetting. For this reason, too, it is best not to use it in children.

The pediatrician practice offers advice and help

As long as the nocturnal wetting does not burden you or your child, you should above all ensure that after such a mishap the bed is quickly made dry and clean again and that everyone can find their sleep again.

It is important that the child does not worry, because it is not to blame for the wetting. Therefore reproaches or even punishments are forbidden. Deal with this problem openly and with confidence.

If the child wets more often,

  • Should drink little or no drink two hours before bed,
  • The mattress can be protected by a rubber mat, fresh bed linen should always be available,
  • The child should shower the next morning to avoid a urine odor.

If your child is five or more years old and still regularly wet at night and suffers from it, or you are worried, you should seek medical advice. This also applies if your child suddenly gets wet again after a long period of dryness in order to get to the bottom of possible organic or emotional causes. Your pediatrician will decide whether it just needs a little patience or whether treatment is advisable. You may be asked to keep a so-called bladder diary in which, among other things, your child’s sleeping and toilet habits are written down.

However, you should avoid methods such as waking up on schedule, “holding back” at night (carrying the sleeping child to the toilet) or bladder training . According to previous knowledge, they are not very promising. The most effective method against bed-wetting are electronic wake-up systems such as doorbell pants or doorbell mats, which trigger a wake-up alarm via a moisture sensor. However, they may only bring lasting success after several months of use. Your pediatrician can inform you about this and, if diagnosed, can issue you with a prescription.

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