How to Reduce Stress in Kids Who Wet the Bed
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In some children, especially those who have been toilet-trained and have had dry nights for at least six months, instances of bedwetting may begin after a change or stressor, even a minor disruption, such as a family vacation, a new babysitter, or a short parental business trip.
Even events that the parents and/or child perceive as exciting, such as a move to a nicer home or an eagerly anticipated start of a new grade, can be stressful in that they are sources of change. A new baby is often a trigger for a regression in different developmental areas, such as bladder control. Serious, though less common sources of stress, such as a death in the family, severe family conflict, and in a very small minority of cases, sexual molestation, can also be associated with bedwetting.
Stress may indirectly cause bedwetting to get worse, as children who are stressed may have a change in routine, which can disrupt sleep patterns, causing children to go into deeper sleep to make up for sleep deprivation. A change in routine can also cause children to forget to refrain from drinking liquid late at night or cause them to go to bed without using the bathroom. Stressed children (or those with stressed parents) may also eat poorly, such as snacking on salty foods that can cause water retention.
No matter what the cause, the experience of wetting the bed, along with the worrying and shame that can often accompany it, can cause further stress on the child. Some ideas for reducing stress in children who wet the bed include:
Don't Make It Worse
Do everything you can not to add to an already stressful situation. Handle the incident calmly and quietly, without getting angry or showing frustration. Let your child know that you understand that accidents happen to everyone, and you will help her figure out how to stop wetting the bed. Make sure that the family is a safe place for children who wet the bed, and do not allow teasing of any kind around this issue.
Find Out Why
Try to discover the source of the stress that may be associated with the bedwetting. If you can do so, talk to your child about it. Let him know that everyone gets worried or scared about changes in life, and our bodies react in different ways; some kids’ bodies might show worry or fear by wetting the bed. Tell him that learning how to get used to or handle the change may help with wetting the bed. Talk about ways to do so, and have your child pick one or two ideas to try.
Feeling control over one’s body and one’s life can go a long way towards reducing stress. Help your child feel in control of her body by having her practice exercises to strengthen bladder muscles, such as starting and stopping while she is urinating. Consult your doctor first to make sure that the exercises are appropriate for your child. Once you know that she understands how to do the bladder exercises, let her practice on her own, without your interference.