Bedwetting - 10 tips for achieving dry beds
Persistent bedwetting may have a negative impact on self esteem and adversely affect a child's emotional and psychosocial development. Bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) is often trivialised and dismissed as something that a child will grow out of. Unfortunately, statistics show that a 5½ year old has approximately 50 per cent chance of becoming dry at night on their own by age 9. Why wait that long and what happens to the other 50 per cent; they become increasingly frustrated and embarrassed that they can't be dry, their self-esteem diminishes and their independence suffers because it is difficult to go on school camps and sleep-overs.
Bedwetting is an inherited medical condition. A child has a 40 per cent chance of being a bedwetter if one parent has been a bedwetter and these statistics increase to 80 per cent if both parents were.
It is important that children and their families understand that bedwetting is not due to laziness, and is certainly not the child's fault. More importantly, bedwetting can be successfully treated and this can lead to a significant improvement in the quality of life for a child and their family.
The most effective treatment for bedwetting is an enuresis alarm (bell and pad alarm). Providing the bell and pad is reliable and supervised by an expert consultant, the success rate can be as high as 90 per cent. The alarm is designed to sensitise and alert the child to respond to a full bladder during sleep. The alarm sounds as the child begins to urinate, the child then wakes, turns off the alarm and proceeds to finish urinating in the toilet. Treatment usually takes between 6 and 8 weeks and needs to be supported by parents and either a psychologist, general practitioner or continence nurse.
Once a child is dry at night, it allows them to feel good about themselves and to join in social activities they may have previously missed out on. Many children express a great sense of relief when they become dry, because the secret has gone, they no longer have to hide it from their friends.
10 tips for achieving dry beds
1. The first step in becoming dry is WANTING to be dry. A motivated child is much more likely to cooperate and be willing to learn about becoming dry.
2. The child receives encouragement and praise for dry beds. Never scold or make fun of your child when he/she wets the bed. It feels bad enough just being wet.
3.Teach your child how the body works. Explain how the brain, body and bladder work and how the brain and bladder need to 'talk' to each other for the child to start being dry.
4. Never restrict fluids before bedtime. This keeps the bladder capacity small. Extra drinks help the bladder stretch and may in fact encourage dry beds.
5. Don't lift/take a child to the toilet during the night.
6. Ensure the toilet is easy and safe for the child to get to during the night and that the child is not frightened to go.
7.Encourage the child to take responsibility for wet beds. Children should assist in changing wet sheets and remaking the bed.
8. Reduce sugary foods and drinks.
9. Encourage and increase the child's self esteem.
10. If night wetting persists beyond the age of five years, professional treatment programs are recommended.
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