Janice woke up one morning and instead of her usual cheery self she looked a bit distraught. Her mother went to her room to wake her up and she pretended to have just woken up, assuring her mum that she’s just fine and will be out soon. A short while later her mum heard little footsteps hurriedly pattering to the bathroom and upon checking Janice’s room, she noticed that Janice had attempted to make her bed yet she never did on her own because she didn’t know how to properly do it. Janice liked to do things right so they had a morning ritual where her mum would help her make the bed perfectly.
Her mother thought it odd and called out to Janice to come for their morning ritual, already reaching for the covers. She turned in time to see Janice stiffen at the doorway with her eyes so wide. Her mother stopped and turned to look at what Janice was staring at. It was a wet patch right in the middle of the bed. Her mother now understood. Janice had wet the bed again and she was beginning to get embarrassed about it because she’d promised to stop owing to the fact that she’s seven years old.
Many adults talk about bedwetting comfortably when the subject is a baby or at least a toddler under three. Any child older than this may be considered a little too much yet statistics show that 5 percent of 10 year old children wet their bed at night while about 1 to 2 percent of them continue struggling all the way to 15 years. You’ll rarely find mothers talking about their older child’s bedwetting because it’s not an easy task. It comes with a lot of judgment (aren’t you being too soft on him?) and lots of unsolicited bad advice (pour some water on him in bed every time he wets the bed or threaten to bring a chameleon to bed with him if he pees). You wonder who came up with such theories and whether they won’t leave a little more damage in the long run.
Medically known as nocturnal enuresis, the issue is neurological for many kids. For you to pee your brain sends messages to your bladder. There may be a disconnect at night for those kids who pee in bed. This means that the brain doesn’t send these signals to the bladder so that it holds the urine during sleep. The bladder therefore empties out of reflex, like with a baby. Three quarters of those who wet their bed have a relative who did it too so genetics is a contributing factor.
Parents may fail to mention such problems during a doctor’s appointment because, well, these are home issues aren’t they? Doctors also don’t ask about this much because they assume that parents will mention everything that is a problem for them. How can one help a child in such a situation?
First, shaming and punishment won’t help so put down that stick (or palm). It actually makes it worse and causes it to take longer to resolve. Start by explaining to your child what is really going on with their body and that they aren’t bad or doing it intentionally. Assure them that it’ll stop with time.
Speak to a paediatrician about it and have them give you things to try out. That’s after finding out whether there’s a deeper medical problem of course. Advice will include cutting out caffeine and reducing liquids at night. Sometimes it could be that your child is constipated during the day and this interferes with the bladder. Give fibre-rich foods and water to help with that and remind your child to use the bathroom often (every two to three hours) because a bladder that isn’t properly emptied during the day can let go at night.
Medication like anti-diuretics (they stop the body from making urine) may work but are a temporary solution because once the child stops taking them they’ll go back to wetting.
Above all else be patient and don’t get frustrated. Your child needs to be ready to stop and not because you pushed them. Take it slow and it’ll fall into place.
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