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Bedwetting in Elementary School

Does your elementary-school-aged child still wet the bed? If so, you’re not alone. Enuresis (or “bedwetting”) is more common than people realize, with 1 in every 8 children starting elementary school still wetting the bed.

Whether bedwetting happens every night or once every couple weeks, it’s normal to be concerned about the behavior and wonder whether there is something more you can do to help your child stay dry overnight.

The first step is understanding how your child’s body works.

Bothersome Bladders

Bedwetting is usually the result of lack of bladder control, but it can also be genetic, so if you or your partner wet the bed, chances are your child may, too. When we need to urinate, our bladder sends a message to our brain to tighten the muscles around the bladder to hold the urine in. In bedwetting situations, this message is not received and the muscles around the bladder relax and urine is let out.

But even children who generally stay dry overnight can go through bouts of bedwetting during stressful times or when they are feeling anxious or over-tired. Divorce, moving, starting school, or birth of a sibling can all bring about changes to their bodily functions.

How To Help At Home

If your older child is wetting the bed, consider making some adjustments at home:

  • Make sure your child’s bed is easy to get in and out of.
  • Avoid flannel pajamas and heavy bedding—it’s harder to feel when they are wet.
  • Use a nightlight so your child can move through their room easier at night.
  • Protect the mattress with a waterproof undersheet.
  • Have a second set of clean sheets nearby if they need to be changed.
  • Avoid using overnight diapers for children over 3-years old.
  • Have your child urinate right before bedtime.

For successfully dry nights, offer lots of praise in the morning or even a special reward, such as a new book or favorite snack in their lunchbox. You could also use a reward chart for either following a new nighttime routine or for having dry nights.

For more tips on managing bedwetting, visit lanekids.org.

This article is brought to you by Parenting Now Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis, and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). 

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