Parents become very despondent when after going through the grueling process of potty training, regular accidents happen or your child asks to sleep in your bed ’cause he wet his bed.
It is seen as absolutely normal and acceptable for a child to still have accidents up to the age of five. Developmentally they should be able to control their bladders when they are about six, during the day and also during the night. When they struggle to do this a diagnosis of enuresis might be considered by your physician. There are many physical problems that should be excluded by a medical professional before this diagnosis can be made:
- An urinary tract infection
- Small bladder
- Slow development of the Central Nervous System
- Hormonal problems
- Abnormalities in the urethral valves in boys or ureter in boys and girls
- Abnormalities of the spinal cord
Enuresis is seen as primary when the accidents continue from baby years on, or as secondary when it starts happening after your child had six months of being accident free. Enuresis seem to be more common with boys than girls and includes both involuntary and intentional accidents.
How can I help my child?
- Limit your child’s fluid intake before bedtime
- Get him to go to the loo at the start of the bedtime routine and again just before going to bed
- A reward system for dry nights or days, for instance a sticker chart, works very well
- Get your child to help you to change his clothes and sheets or let him sleep in his own bed on towels to not wake him too much with the changing of sheets
- Night lights and a lit bathroom helps children feel safe to find their way to the toilet
- Some parents feel that waking their child to go to the loo, just before they go to bed, prevents accidents
- Constipation should be treated, because it can lead to accidents
- Refrain from giving any caffeinated drinks before bedtime
- Do not revert to using diapers at night
- Bed wetting alarms teaches children to wake up when they wet their beds
- DO NOT PUNISH your child for accidents, it will only lead to low self esteem and cause more stress for your child
- Assure your child that accidents can happen to anyone.
When should I consult my doctor?
- It is necessary to go to the doctor when your child suddenly start having accidents after being dry for six months.
- When he starts wetting his pants during the day
- When accidents are accompanied by misbehavior at home or at school
- When he complains of burning when he urinates or when he has to urinate more frequently than usual
- When he eats or drinks more than usual (possible indication of diabetes)
- Swelling of the feet or ankles
- A child who has accidents after the age of 7 warrants a doctor visit.
Treatment usually involves behavior modification and medication should really only be considered as a last resort, seeing that this will usually resolve itself.