Children Wetting The Bed Is Common - Understand the Problem


  • Author Brad Dalton
  • Published March 8, 2011
  • Word count 547

The first thing to understand about bed wetting in children is that it’s a relatively common problem. In fact, while most children develop what’s called an ‘adult pattern’ of control over their urination habits by the time they reach three to four years old so that they’re dry both day and night, bed wetting – or nocturnal enuresis as it’s medically termed – occurs in as many as 20 percent of five year olds and up to 10 percent of 10 year olds.

It’s a condition that’s more common in boys than in girls, with one study showing how at age seven, between 15 and 22 percent of boys wet the bed, while 7 to 15 percent of girls do. The good news is that in the majority of cases, young children fall into the category of ‘infrequent bedwetting’ so that they wet the bed less than twice a week. In fact, it’s believed that only 2.4 percent of school-aged bedwetters wet the bed every night.

However, it’s also true that when a bedwetting problem persists past a child’s 10th birthday, it’s more likely to be classified as severe, which means they wet the bed three or more times a week.

The question is, if your child is a bedwetter, should you consider seeking help? The answer, according to the experts, is yes. That’s because, while children do tend to outgrow the problem, the impact that bedwetting has on a child can be significant, affecting everything from their self-esteem to their relationships with their friends and parents, and may even impact their performance at school. Children with a bedwetting problem are often teased by siblings and friends and may be reluctant to participate in school trips or attend gatherings which involve staying somewhere overnight.

In fact, even in children who experience a bedwetting ‘incident’ just once a month, the problem has been linked to lower self-esteem. Despite this, Australian statistics show that only 34 percent of families of children with bedwetting seek professional help. Many families hold on until the child grows out of the problem. For most children, this is certainly the case, but it can be very difficult for those that do not.

It’s unfortunate when you consider that not only has treatment for bedwetting been reported to improve self-esteem regardless of the type or even how successful it is, proper treatment of bedwetting can be effective in more than 90 percent of cases.

In contrast, the majority of techniques that families try themselves to solve the problem – including reward charts or restricting fluid intake before bedtime – aren’t effective. What’s more worrying is that as many as one third of parents have used punishment as their first-line of defence against the problem at some stage. The reality is that most children classified as ‘bedwetters’ are not doing it to be naughty or as an act of rebellion. In fact, while bedwetting was once believed to be a psychological condition, it’s now accepted that the emotional upsets, such as the behavioural problems that sometimes go hand-in-hand with the situation, (particularly in older bedwetting children) are actually the result of the problem rather than the cause.

For more information about treatments, bed wetting solutions and causes of bedwetting, talk to your health care professional.

Brad Dalton is a professional medical writer. He consults to business and lectures at the School of Human Life Sciences, University of Tasmania. Brad produces patient education materials for oncology, cardiovascular disease, HIV and paediatric medicine e.g. nocturnal enuresis, bed wetting and bed wetting causes

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