There are many reasons why a child wets the bed, and there are many myths floating around in the world about bedwetting.
These myths can be very detrimental to your night-time toilet training journey, and you should avoid doing these things.
Here, we debunk some of the most common of those myths so parents can get a firm, real grasp of why children wet the bed, and how to help them stop.
7 common bedwetting myths
Children wet out of laziness.
The child has no control over whether they wet the bed or not. It happens because the child’s brain cannot wake them when their bladder is full. Laziness does not play a role at all – they simply can’t wake up. The brain needs time to form a solid connection to the bladder so it can realise the bladder is full, and wake the child up to use the toilet. This connection takes years to fully form, so it is normal for children to be wetting the bed until until age 6 or so, and this will depend on the child too.
You should carry your child to the toilet while they are asleep.
If the child empties their bladder while still asleep, or half-awake, the brain will learn that it is OK to let the child urinate while asleep. Neither should you fully wake a child in the night to use the toilet, as this doesn’t teach the brain anything. It can learn to wake up, but not that the trigger for waking up is a full bladder – as you can’t know when someone else’s bladder is full, not even your child.
Children who wet the bed shouldn’t drink at all in the afternoon.
Restricting liquids in the afternoon with the intention that the child has nothing in their bladder before bed is not an effective way to handle bedwetting. Even if they do not drink in the afternoon, any liquids they have already had will still be in the body, being processed, so can still end up in the bladder at bed time. If an adult who’d never had issues with bedwetting drank a lot before going to bed, they would wake up to go to the toilet – the child simply hasn’t learned how to do that yet.
Punishment will help the child stop bedwetting.
It is important to remember that the child isn’t doing it on purpose – and you wouldn’t punish them for any other kind of accident, like mispronouncing a word because they haven’t learned how to say it properly yet. Support and encouragement that they are not doing anything wrong is what a bedwetting child needs.
Bedwetting is a problem that requires medical care to overcome.
In the majority of cases, the child will overcome bedwetting naturally, once their brain has fully learnt how to hold on all night, or wake up to use the toilet. If the child is over the age of 7-8 then you might want to talk to a health care professional about treatment methods – such as a bedwetting alarm or medication. Medication is usually a last resort treatment that doctor must prescribe. There are different types of medications that can do a range of different things to the body – some make the body produce more anti-diuretic hormone (a hormone that stops the kidneys from producing as much urine while asleep), some change sleeping habits and pattern, or increase bladder capacity overnight. All other resources should be exhausted before turning to medication to treat bedwetting.
Someone is to blame when a child wets the bed – either child or parent.
No one is to blame, as it is no one’s fault. Remember, the child does not choose to wet the bed, so cannot be faulted simply because their brain hasn’t learned fully yet. Also, the parent did nothing to make the child wet the bed – it all happens by accident.
Children wet the bed to get attention.
Would you like to wake up wet, smelly, and cold for any reason? Neither would a child. In some extreme cases where a child feels they need attention, even if it is negative, this can occur. However, it would not be for an extended period of time the way that genuine bedwetting occurs more than once. A bedwetting child does need attention, but of the positive and reassuring kind that they aren’t in the wrong. They wouldn’t do it if they had the choice.