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Though bed-wetting is normal, it's anything but pleasant. After all, waking up in a soaked bed is far from a cherished childhood memory. Most kids stop wetting the bed once they develop bladder control, but for those who don't, this phase can be exhausting, it can lead to many restless nights and it can be embarrassing. The more your child understands that bed-wetting is normal, the less ashamed he will feel. In addition, the more control he has over the situation, the more comfortable he will feel.
Here are three typical talks about bed-wetting that you can have with your child -- along with parenting solutions for each scenario.
"What do you need to make yourself feel better if you wet the bed at night?"
A mom just called to ask me how to help her daughter. She was ready to go from diapers to pull ups, and she was mature enough to wake up on her own to use the bathroom at night -- but she was still wetting the bed. Luckily the daughter was able to tell her mom the reason: "I feel nervous waking up in the dark to go to the bathroom." She was also worried that the potty seat would slip and she would "fall in the toilet" -- and Mom wouldn't be there to help. It's wonderful that the daughter could verbalize her concerns. It allowed her mom to set up a nightlight and strap on that duck seat. The bedwetting stopped by the end of the week.
The key point here is that you shouldn't overlook the little details that might concern your child. Talk to her about what she needs to feel more comfortable at night so she can wake up. And if she is unable to describe those worries, then just climb into her shoes for a minute. If you were your child what might hinder you from getting out of bed to use the toilet at night? Here are some possibilities:
If she's afraid of the dark, you might set up a nightlight or two so she can find the bathroom by herself. Another idea is to install a fish aquarium (it doesn't even have to be real -- there are darling fake ones available now) that gives off light.
If she's concerned she'll wet the bed and then be unable to sleep on those damp sheets, set aside a clean pair of PJs she can easily locate and change into. Include a towel to place over the wet spot.
If she's worried that she'll "fall into the toilet" (believe me, it's a common concern), ask her if a walkie-talkie system in your room and hers will help reduce those fears.
"How can we make you feel more comfortable about spending the night away from home?"
Sleeping over at a friend's house can be anxiety-provoking for a child who wets the bed. You can help reduce your child's embarrassment or fears by preparing for a "just in case" scenario together.
Bringing a personal sleeping bag (with a rubber sheet tucked inside) is much more reassuring than using the friend's bed. Your child can help you pack a backpack with two matching pairs of PJs (in case one gets wet), a towel to cover the wet spot, a small plastic bag to store wet clothing and a flashlight so your child can find his way to the bathroom if he can't find the light switch.
Of course, you can always give the friend's mom a "heads-up" and ask her to help out and keep the matter quiet if your child needs assistance.
"Would you like to try a bedwetting alarm?"
Bedwetting for kids who are older than eight can be frustrating and demoralizing. If you've tried other options and your child is a deep sleeper, a bedwetting alarm system might be something to consider. Most parents are put off by the idea, thinking it's far too obtrusive, but you may want to ask your kid for his opinion. Very often kids are willing to try just about anything for a restful night's sleep.
Basically, the alarm hooks to the sheet and then awakens the child by going off when it catches even the tiniest bit of urine. For sound sleepers, that alarm can be just the ticket to helping your child learn to wake up by himself before wetting the bed. If you do decide on the purchase, enlist your kid's help. Let him set up his bed with the new system. Doing so will make him feel more comfortable about the alarm, as well as boost his confidence because he has more control. Show him how the alarm goes off by putting just a few drops of water on the sheets so he knows what to expect and how to turn it off. You may have to wake him up a few times until his body gets used to the new approach. Many parents who swore they would never use such a system change their minds once they see that it can work. It may be worth a try.