Bedwetting - don't suffer in silence
Childhood sleepovers - a rite of passage that should be full of fun and laughter. But spare a thought for kids who wet the bed - for them, it's no laughing matter. Instead of being excited, a new survey by ERIC (Education & Resources for Improving Childhood Continence), to mark the first ever Bedwetting Awareness Week, shows that ¾ of kids with this problem don't look forward to sleepovers at all. Instead, the lead up to spending a night at a friend's house brings a mixture of fear, anxiety and nervousness.
Contrary to popular belief, bedwetting is nothing to do with being lazy and it's rarely due to psychological problems, especially in children who have never been dry at night. It's so common that it can hardly even be called 'abnormal' - wetting the bed is considered normal until the age of five and it's estimated that in the UK, over half a million children between five and 16-years-old regularly wet the bed. But it's a huge source of embarrassment to children, and many will go to any lengths to avoid their friends finding out. In a class of 30 children seven- to nine-year-olds, there will probably by two children affected. But rather than open up about their problem and risk teasing, children will avoid sleepovers and make excuses to get out of school trips. This can have a knock-on effect on confidence that can last right through to adulthood.
But there is help available. If it only happens occasionally, simple measures may be all that's needed. If you find yourself getting frustrated - and a huge number of parents do, so please don't blame yourself!) you might find it helpful to talk to someone at a specialist helpline, such as ERIC's confidential helpline (0845 370 8008, Mondays and Wednesdays between 9.30am - 4.30pm). Alternatively, you may want to speak to your child's doctor to see if anything more needs to be done.
If your child wets the bed, your doctor will need some background information which will help him get to grips with the possible cause:
- Have they never been regularly dry? This is called 'primary' bedwetting. Doctors don't recognise bedwetting as being abnormal until your child is over five - almost one third of children still wet the bed at the age of 4 ½, so it's considered a variation of normal.
- Have they been dry for a good while then started wetting the bed again? The medical term for this is 'secondary' bedwetting and may be an indicator of a new medical problem, such as urine infection, type 1 diabetes, constipation or stress.
- Do they have delay in any other area of development? Conditions that affect development, like Down's syndrome, increase the likelihood of bedwetting
- Did you wet the bed in childhood? Doctors estimate that if one parent had the problem, there's a two in five chance of your child going through the same issue, and a three in four chance if both parents were affected
Whichever route you choose, it's important to try and stay positive and recognise that it's nobody's fault. Bedwetting can be very stressful, but except in very unusual circumstances we can say with confidence that this is one problem that won't last forever!