Should I Be Worried If My Child is a Bedwetter?
Bedwetting is a common problem of childhood…more common than people necessarily think. “I call it the hidden problem of childhood,” says Dr. Howard Bennett, a pediatrician and author of Waking Up Dry: A Guide to Help Children Overcome Bedwetting. “Unlike asthma or allergies, it’s just not talked about outside the house.”
Indeed, bed-wetting children are far from alone. As they mature, children gain bladder control at night, but at varying ages. After age 5, about 15% of children continue to wet the bed, and by age 10, there are still about 5% of children who are not yet dry at night. About 10% of elementary school and 3% of middle school children are regular bedwetters. Every year 15% of those suffering from bedwetting become dry without treatment. Usually bedwetting stops by puberty.
Maximizing empowerment at camp
Whether bedwetters at camp wet their beds due to smaller bladders, increased nighttime urine production, heredity, or being tough to awaken at night, we recognize that it’s not their “fault”, it’s relatively common, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. In addition to “regular” bedwetters, there are sometimes kids at camp who are not regular bed-wetters, but wet the bed at camp because new circumstances cause a change in their nighttime rhythms.
Because societal secrecy about bedwetting can make the situation tough for kids (and parents), we try to normalize it. My routine acknowledgment that I was a regular bed-wetter until age 12 also helps the camp culture be pretty supportive around any issues that arise. That way, instead of Bennett’s issue of “ninety percent of kids think[ing] they’re the only ones who wet the bed, which makes them feel even worse,” we can avoid it being a source of embarrassment. It need not interfere with a child’s socialization nor lead to significant stress.
I wish I had Pull ups when I was a bedwetter!
Fortunately, unlike back in the day when I wet my bed well into junior high, there are easy ways to manage bedwetting at camp—pull ups! There’s a variety of ways that campers deal with them— with the majority going with full ownership. Some campers unabashedly wear them around the cabin when it’s bedtime. Some put them on more subtly with their pajamas as part of the bedtime routine. Some are more shy and put them on in the bathroom. We honor each camper’s comfort level, whatever their choice. If pull ups leak or,occasionally, if someone who should have been wearing pull ups doesn’t, the circumstance gets dealt with routinely and unobtrusively by the counselors.
Some tips to minimize stress
From pediatric experts, here are some tips to minimize stress around bedwetting:
- Remind children that bedwetting is no one’s fault.
- Let children know that lots of kids have the same problem.
- Do not punish or shame children for being wet at night.
- Make sure the child’s siblings do not tease him about wetting the bed.
- Let children know if anyone in the family wet the bed growing up.
- Maintain a low-key attitude after wetting episodes.
- Reinforce any efforts the child makes to help with his wetting, e.g. stripping the bed or helping parents carry wet bedding to the laundry room.
- Praise the child for success in any of the following areas: waking up at night to urinate, having smaller wet spots, having a dry night.