The Emotional Side of Bedwetting

A child who wets the bed may have many feelings about it, and all of them are tough. As the parent, you want to help your child handle those emotions so that they don’t get to him too much. Here’s how:

Shame

It’s very common for kids who wet the bed to feel embarrassed about it. Remind your child that bedwetting is out of his control, so he shouldn’t feel ashamed.

What you can do:

Tell him that millions of kids across the U.S. wet the bed. If he hears that it’s so many people, he won’t feel alone, which may help.

Also, if you or your partner wet the bed when you were younger, tell your child how you felt, and let him know that you outgrew it over time, and that it can run in families. If he hears that someone he looks up to had the same problem once, he may not feel ashamed anymore.

Guilt

Many children who have accidents at night feel guilty because they create extra work for you: You have to do more laundry. You may spend money on special bedwetting products. You may have to pack extra things, such as absorbent pants, when you sleep at a relative’s house. Your child may see that you’re busy with work and parenting and feel bad for adding more to your plate. Or he may feel guilty for not being in control of something that he really has no control over.

What you can do:

Don’t complain about wet sheets in front of your child, since this may make him feel guilty. And don’t punish him, since it’s not his fault.

Let your child take some responsibility, if he’d like, by helping you clean the bedding. That might give him one less thing to feel guilty about. But don’t demand that he do this.

Remind your child that you love him and would do anything to help make his nights easier. 

Fear and Anxiety

Your child may worry that his peers will find out about his bedwetting and tease him or not want to be friends with him anymore. This becomes a bigger issue as children get older and there are sleepovers and sleepaway camp.

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What you can do:

Encourage your child to attend fun activities like camp or sleepovers. There are absorbent pants that look just like underwear that can catch lost urine and sleeping-bag liners that prevent wet spots.

Older kids know how to be subtle. You can pack a change of clothing, just in case, and only he has to know. There are also medicines that a doctor can prescribe that can stop bedwetting on nights when your child uses them.

Don’t allow your other children to tease him or talk about bedwetting, since they may say something in front of your child’s friends one day by mistake.

If he’s afraid that people will find out, he may be ready to take action. Try a bedwetting alarm to train him to wake up when drops of urine hit his underwear.

If your child feels so anxious about bedwetting that it’s a problem, it might help if he talks with a therapist. Ask your doctor to suggest one who sees patients with this problem.

Anger

Your child may get tired of waking up wet all the time. He may feel like, “Why me?” There are things that he can do to control his anger.

Some kids feel better when they write down what they feel: poems, song lyrics, diary entries. It’s OK for him to throw away what he’s written. Sometimes the writing itself can help get those angry feelings out.

Anger can also move people to take positive action. If your child hasn’t been thrilled to start a plan to try to outgrow bedwetting, anger about it might become his motivation.

How to Keep Your Cool

It can be hard to have a child who wets the bed. Use these tips to help you handle your own emotions:

You feel upset. Another wet bed? Never yell or blame. Instead, take a deep breath and remind yourself that your child feels bad and didn’t do it on purpose. Most children improve with time and by trying different methods. Try to focus on the dry future and let go of angry feelings.

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You feel guilty. Maybe you already raised your voice about wet sheets when you felt stressed. Take a moment to reset, and work to stay calm in the future. You may also feel guilty if you wet the bed as a child and now your child does. But it’s not your fault, and he’ll outgrow it, just as you did.

You’re starting to wonder if this will keep happening. It probably will for a while, but not forever. Almost all kids outgrow bedwetting. It often happens as their bodies become more mature. So remember that this should be a short-lived problem, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on October 25, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Waking up dry: Helping your child overcome bedwetting.”

National Kidney Foundation: “Questions kids ask,” “Products for children with enuresis and daytime urinary incontinence.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Enuresis (bed-wetting).”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Bedwetting.”

Nemours Foundation: “Dealing with anger.”

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies: “Bed-wetting.”

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