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Children's Health

Helping Bedwetters: Tips From the Trenches

Parents and doctors offer their best tips for helping your bedwetting child -- and you -- cope.
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Understand the Causes of Bedwetting continued...

She and her husband educated themselves about the condition. "The more we read and learned about this, it struck us as a physical inability to stay dry," she says. "So for us it seems unbelievably important that our child not feel shame or humiliation with it."

Her motto: "It could take a while, but there are definitely ways to cure it." They chose to use a urinary bed alarm, which includes a moisture-detecting sensor that sets off the alarm so the child gets up. After about six months of consistent use, Billy stayed dry every night. When he had a relapse a year later, they went back to the alarm again for a week and he was dry again.

Don't Pressure, "Guilt Trip," or Punish Bedwetters

"The more pressure that is put on a child, the worse it is," says Robert Mendelson, MD, a pediatrician in Portland, Ore. "A lot of parents want to punish their child because they wake up wet in the morning." That’s not the right course, he tells them.

Steven Parker, MD, convinced parents by telling them it would be comparable to a wife saying to a husband (or vice versa): "I don't like it when you sleep and drool, or sleep and snore. I am going to punish you for that."

Offer Support and Encouragement to Bedwetters

Being a bedwetter can have a big impact, especially when a kid is ready for important childhood rituals such as going to camp or sleeping over a friend's house. Allow the child to express their feelings, Parker said. Reassure your child that the problem isn't his fault. Tell them it's understandable to feel frustrated but that this will pass.

Work with camp counselors, Bennett suggests. When one of his bedwetting patients went to camp, the counselor told the kids in his cabin they would draw straws to see which child had to get up first in the morning. He made sure the bedwetting child got the short straw. Then he helped him in the morning if the bed was wet.

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