How Can I Stop My Son’s BedWetting?
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How Can I Stop My Son’s BedWetting?
Q. My son is five years old and has been wetting the bed at night for a year now. He was previously able to stay dry at night, and I don’t know why this has started again. I’ve tried to handle this in many ways, sometimes by rewarding him and sometimes by showing him my displeasure. The only solution I’ve found is to wake him up to use the bathroom several times a night, but this is exhausting for both of us. He doesn’t have any psychological problems. Is this normal, and is there another way to stop it – with medication, for example?
A. Bedwetting is an important problem facing both families and children, and it requires skill and patience to deal with it. It is normal up to age three, but after that, if bedwetting recurs (no matter what the time gap – daily, weekly or monthly, for example) then parents should look for a cause. You need to take two parallel approaches:
First, a child’s psychological state and how others treat him is a major cause of bedwetting, so look again for a psychological reason. It could be a number of things, some of which may seem trivial to an adult, but which can greatly affect a child. For example, a child might be bothered by something related to school: a problem with his classmates, being unable to understand the lessons, or his parents’ disapproval of his grades. (Changing your child’s school or where you live, with all the changes that brings to a child’s environment, could be a cause as well.) Jealously also plays a role. For example, if there is a new baby in the family, the attention given to the newborn and the neglect of the older child (at least from the older child’s point of view!) can cause jealousy and lead to bedwetting. Also, when parents tell others such as family members, neighbors and friends about the bedwetting, this greatly hurts a child and can make the problem worse. Deeper psychological reasons that have a profound affect on a child include losing a parent, sibling or close friend.
Second, there could be a physical reason for bedwetting, and one of the most common is pinworm infestation, which causes severe irritation and itching around the anus, accompanied by bedwetting at night. Another physical cause is a weakness of the muscle called the urinary bladder sphincter. This weakness is due to a congenital defect in the vertebral column, which affects the nerve controlling this muscle.
To check for pinworm infestation, urine and stool tests and an anal swab are needed. To check the condition of the nerve controlling the urinary bladder sphincter, an x-ray of the lower part of the vertebral column is needed. In these cases, there are effective medications that should be taken under the supervision of your doctor. There are also some exercises that can help strengthen the urinary bladder sphincter.
To solve this problem, you need to check for all possible causes while taking your child’s psychological state into consideration: pay attention to him and do not speak harshly to him, especially in front of others. Also, an hour before bed, he should stop drinking any liquids, and he should use the bathroom right before sleeping.
I also advise parents to make a special notebook in which they write the days of the week, and then the child himself puts a check next to the days that he stays dry and an “x” next to the days he does not. This gives him personal motivation to overcome the problem. Rewards and encouragement from his parents also help.
Dr. Ahmed Darwish