As the parent of a bedwetter, I know that the worst part isn’t always the yucky sheets — it’s watching the embarrassment and stress that the issue causes your poor kid. There’s nothing more frustrating than watching your child struggle with something beyond their control, and worrying that they’ll be the kid everybody picks on.
If you’re like me, you’ll try anything to alleviate the situation (if someone told me it would help to dress up like a hot dog and putter down the busiest street in town on a scooter, I’d be all over it). And that includes opening the conversation around bedwetting, since it’s freaking 2016 and there’s still this weird stigma around it. I don’t know why no one can talk about this, but I’m definitely not afraid to be the one to start.
So take heart: There are things you can do, right now, to make your child feel more empowered and less anxious (no hot dog costume required), starting with talking about it in this very blog post.
1. Talk about how common bedwetting is.
Your child may feel like they are the only kid they know dealing with this issue (and, okay, you might too), but there’s a really good chance that some of their friends have the same problem. In fact, 1 in 6 kids ages 4 to 12 wet the bed. Let them know that lots of kids do it, but since it’s such a personal and private topic, it’s not like they’re chatting about it on the playground or writing a report on it for school or having a “Proud Bedwetter!” T-shirt printed up.
2. Share your own experiences.
Since bedwetting is something that can run in families, you or your spouse may be able to help by letting your child know you can relate. If you have a bedwetting story of your own, share it — even if it still makes you cringe. Remind them that it won’t last forever, because you haven’t peed the bed in years (well, except for that one time when you had a little too much wine, but that’s different). A little reassurance goes a long way.
3. Show some support.
Wetting the bed is not something your kid can help or control — that’s why they’re called “accidents.” It’s not a result of willfulness or stubbornness or laziness, and can be huge source of stress. The best thing you can do is be patient and understanding, and save the punishments and reprimands for the times when they write in their library book or track mud all over your freshly mopped floor. (Grrrr.)
4. Light up the night.
A clear, well-lit path to the toilet can make your child feel more comfortable with getting up in the night to pee. If the route from their room to the bathroom has to be lit up like an airport runway with multiple night-lights, so be it — whatever keeps you from having to do an extra load of laundry!
5. Don’t allow teasing.
Siblings tease each other for a multitude of things, both real and imagined; it’s just what they do, and it’s mostly harmless (your kid knows he’s not really a doo-doo head). But if your bedwetter is being teased about it, it’s time to draw the line. Privately explain to your other children that it’s genuinely hurtful, and not something to bring up for the sole purpose of aggravation. They can save that for nose-picking.
6. Brainstorm solutions together.
By making your child a part of the solution, you place them in a proactive role that may make them feel more in control of the situation. Talk about things that could keep them comfy and confident at night — wearing disposable nighttime pants like GoodNites, limiting drinks after a certain point in the evening, changing up their bedtime routine — and see which options they’re most interested in trying.
7. Keep your cool when an accident happens.
Sure, encountering yet another incident in the middle of a great sleep can be frustrating (you were just getting to the good part of that dream!), but remind yourself that it is unintentional. You can set the tone in your family by being understanding, positive, and low-key after a bedwetting accident. Instead of making a big deal about it, be sure to remain calm and upbeat…even if that means you have to scream into a pillow before you address the situation.
8. Pack discreetly for overnights.
Sleepovers are a huge part of childhood — but for a kid who wets the bed, they can be an exercise in anxiety: Will I have an accident? Will the parents be angry? Will my friends know? Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, there are absorbent nighttime pants that are hardly distinguishable from regular underwear. Slip a pair of GoodNites into your kid’s bag, along with a plastic baggie to put the wet pants in the next morning (to save the embarrassment of carrying a soiled pair of undies to the trash). Fold them between clothes or tuck them into a sleeping bag, have your child get dressed in the bathroom or another private location, and — voila! — nobody knows a thing.
9. Host a sleepover at your house.
If the thought of spending an entire night at someone else’s house is still stressing your child out, here’s an idea: Bring the party to your place! That way, your kid doesn’t have to miss out on the fun of an all-nighter with their besties, and being in a location that they know is “bedwetter friendly” will tremendously cut down on their stress level. It’s a win-win! (I mean, except when it’s time for cleanup. But everything else? Awesome.)
10. Don’t get discouraged.
Bedwetting is something kids can’t control, and it can literally last for years. No matter how well you and your child manage it, there will be times when you’ll want to shake your fists at the sky and yell, “Just! Stop! Peeing! The bed!” But your attitude toward it, even when it’s an issue you deal with for the long haul, means everything. Stay positive and supportive, or at least appear that way — because it can be the difference between your child’s shame and embarrassment, and their self-acceptance.
Parenting is awesome overall, but certain parts of it kinda suck, and bedwetting is one of those things. Luckily for you, and your kid, it’s not going to last forever (keep repeating that if you have to) and you’re both doing a great job handling it in the meantime.
Parents never have all the answers (even though we would never let our kids know that!), so to learn more about bedwetting and hear tips from other parents and pros, visit GoodNites.com.
GoodNites Bedtime Pants are discreet, easy to use, and designed for kids who need extra nighttime protection.