Bedwetting

Most children begin to stay dry at night around three years of age. When a child has a problem with bedwetting (enuresis) after that age, parents may become concerned.

Physicians stress that enuresis is not a disease but a symptom--and a fairly common one. Occasional accidents may occur, particularly when the child is ill. Here are some facts parents should know about bedwetting:

Approximately 15 percent of children wet the bed after the age of three.

Many more boys than girls wet their beds.

Bedwetting may run in families.

Usually bedwetting stops by puberty.

Persistent bedwetting beyond the age of three or four rarely signals a kidney or bladder problem. Bedwetting may sometimes be related to a sleep disorder. In most cases it is due to the development of the child's bladder control being slower than normal. Bedwetting may be the result of the child's tensions and emotions that require attention.

There are a variety of emotional reasons for bedwetting. For example, when a young child begins bedwetting after several months or years of dryness during the night, this may reflect new fears of insecurities. This may follow an event which makes the child feel insecure--moving to a new town, the loss of a family member, or, especially, the arrival of a new baby in the home. Sometimes bedwetting occurs after a period of dryness because the child's original toilet training was too stressful.

Parents should remember that children rarely wet on purpose, and usually feel ashamed about the incident. Rather than make the child feel naughty or ashamed, parents need to encourage the child and show faith that he or she will soon be able to enjoy staying dry at night. A pediatrician's advice is often very helpful.

In rare instances, the problem of bedwetting cannot be resolved by the parents, the family physician or the pediatrician. Sometimes the child may also show symptoms of emotional problems--such as persistent sadness or irritability, or a change in eating or sleeping habits. In these cases, parents may want to talk with a professional at the JFS of MetroWest who will evaluate physical and emotional problems that may be causing the bedwetting, and will work with the child and parents to resolve these problems.

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