Olivia has been invited to a sleepover to celebrate her friend’s seventh birthday. Olivia would love to go to the party, but she has a secret – she still wets the bed.
Olivia’s situation is not uncommon, with between eight and 12 per cent of seven year olds still wetting the bed at night.
This is tough on the parents who have to wash the clothes and bedding, but it can also make life difficult for children who avoid sleepovers or school camps for fear of being teased when they have an accident.
A number of factors can contribute to bedwetting (also known as nocturnal enuresis). If one parent wet the bed as a child, there is a 44 per cent chance the child will too. If both parents wet the bed, the child has a 75 per cent chance of being a bed wetter. Poor bladder and bowel habits such as low fluid intake, constipation and not emptying the bladder fully can also impact on bladder control. Emotional upsets can also cause delays or relapses in children previously dry at night.
It is important to address the cause by seeking advice from a health professional.
Becoming dry overnight can take time and requires patience and encouragement. In the meantime, adopting a few simple strategies can enable your child to enjoy social activities such as sleepovers with their friends.
- Preparation is the key to success, so prepare for the event well in advance, discussing strategies with your child and trialling them in the familiarity of your home.
- Consider the age of your child and how much responsibility they can take on their own. You may need to confide in the adult supervisor so they can assist your child. Ensure they are sensitive to your child’s privacy and don’t draw attention to the issue in front of others.
- Ensure your child is familiar with how to use products such as bed pads, which can be discreetly slipped inside sleeping bags, and how these can be disposed of in the morning.
- Have someone orientate your child in their new surroundings, ensuring their bed is closest to the toilet and that they have a torch available.
- Remind your child and their supervisor of the need to go to the toilet before going to bed. This may require them to go twice, as many children talk for a long time before they are ready for sleep.
Remember to pack extra clothing and underwear for your child, as well as wipes to assist with clean ups, and plastic bags to dispose of products where necessary.
These tips, used in conjunction with prescribed medication or bladder training techniques, can assist you and your child to have a worry-free sleepover, and ensure they maintain a healthy self-esteem through social interaction.
– This article is written with information from the National Continence Helpline