Bedwetting is common (and developmentally normal) for younger children as their bodies develop and they master toilet-training at night. As children get older, however, continued bedwetting can cause a child to become upset and embarrassed. Often, a child will be hesitant to spend the night at a friend’s home or go to overnight camp for fear of being ”found out” and bullied.
Here a few helpful facts about older children and bedwetting:
- It is more common in boys than girls;
- It can be due to a physical or psychological condition, maturity, development or abuse
It’s important to remember that children do not wet the bed on purpose; there is usually an underlying cause. If you notice your charge wetting the bed routinely during naptime or overnight, be sure to let your nanny family know and encourage them to make an appointment with their pediatrician for an evaluation.
Equally important is to be nonjudgmental when making a suggestion of this sort, stressing that many children experience bedwetting. Indeed, according to the AAP, 20% of five year olds and 10% of six year olds are bedwetters. And thankfully, most children grow out of it.
Dr. Howard J. Bennett, MD a pediatrician in Washington D.C. and author of Waking Up Dry, states that bedwetting often runs in families and notes that the child will usually become dry at about the same age as the parent did. He goes on to state that, no matter what a person thinks, bedwetting is not due to laziness or spite.
So what can you do about older children and bedwetting?
Your bedwetting child or teen, whether your own or your charge, needs your love and understanding. Here are some helpful reminders:
- Be kind: Many medical experts agree that the worst thing a parent or caregiver can do is give a child a hard time for wetting the bed. Rather, provide patience and reassurance.
- Respect the child’s privacy and dignity: Do not share your child’s experience with friends, colleagues or family. Sharing not only makes the child feel humiliated but it can also destroy a child’s trust in you.
- Get educated: Join an online support group, read books, and talk with your pediatrician. Find places to learn more about bedwetting and how to help the child and yourself.
Practical Tips for Parents and Caregivers
Here are a few practical things you can do to make things easier during the bedwetting period:
- Use a waterproof mattress pad and washable blankets and limit the number of items taken to bed.
- Keep a supply of clean sheets at the ready. Even better, “double-make” the bed with a second waterproof pad and sheet on top of the first.
- Keep clean underwear and PJs handy
- Get a trundle bed or a second place where the child can sleep if they wet the bed if space permits.
- Allow the child to manage the clean-up themselves, it makes them feel better (but do not do this punitively).
- Don’t make it a topic of conversation.
Bedwetting is often frustrating, especially when it seems to go on forever, but armed with some information and an action plan, it can be easier to deal with. The good news is that bedwetting is often a treatable condition, so again, be sure your nanny family brings it up with their pediatrician (or you do if you take your charge to these appointments). Together you can come up with the strategy that works for you and your nanny family.
Nanny Sheri In 1987, Nanny Sheri Lopez graduated with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education and, in 1992, received a B.A. in Business. Over 32 years she has obtained certifications from 52 different programs, including: Certified Nursing Assistant, Certified Nanny Training, Certified Newborn Care Specialist Training, Certified Infant Massage Teacher, Certified Baby Signing Time Instructor, Certified American Red Cross CPR, first aid & AED Instructor, National Child Passenger Safety Technician Certification and she passed the International Nanny Association Basic Skills Exam, as well as the Credentialed Exam.