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Health & Parenting

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Helping Your Bedwetting Child Maintain Self-Esteem

For centuries, parents have been trying to find bedwetting solutions, often in vain.

One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the fact that many kids who wet the bed feel a deep sense of shame and embarrassment about their problem, which can contribute to low self-esteem. The good news is that there are things you can do as a parent to help minimize the negative emotional effects of bedwetting, also known as eneuresis.

1. Discuss bedwetting with your child’s pediatrician.

Many children wet the bed until they’re about 6 years old and then stop, with no need to seek medical treatment. But if your child is older than 6 or if the bedwetting problem is causing you or your child concern, it’s a good idea to visit your pediatrician. The doctor can do a series of tests to rule out abnormalities that might be causing the problem, and help put your child’s mind at ease about bedwetting.

Sometimes, knowing that bedwetting is a medical problem treated by doctors can help alleviate a child’s shame or embarrassment. You and your child can discuss that you’re going to address bedwetting the same way you would address a sore throat or sprained ankle, for example.

Your child may feel like she’s doing something wrong if she wets the bed, so you and the doctor can let her know that it’s not her fault. It can be useful to explain to children who wet the bed that enuresis is often caused by a slightly delayed development of the bladder. You can also talk about the fact that many kids who wet the bed sleep so soundly, they fail to wake up when they need to go to the bathroom.

2. Tell your child bedwetting is common.

Bedwetting isn’t something kids talk about with each other, so your child might feel like he’s the only kid his age who still wets the bed. Be sure to tell him that millions of children, and teenagers too, regularly wet their beds. In fact, it’s quite likely that he knows someone else with a bedwetting problem -- he just doesn’t know it.

Bedwetting often runs in families, too. Children whose parents did not wet the bed have a 15% chance of being bedwetters, which goes up to 44% if one parent wet the bed and rises all the way to 77% if both parents wet the bed as children. So, if you or your partner wet the bed when you were young, share this information with your child. Telling them you had the same problem can minimize the embarrassment he feels and give him hope that he will get over the problem.

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