I tell you this because bedwetting happens to older children and yet it’s something parents don’t talk like to talk about.
When I was pregnant with BooBoo and Boy Wonder was on the verge of turning 5 years old, I remember telling a friend how frustrated I was that he was still wetting the bed at night. I desperately wanted him out of overnight diapers before I gave birth and the real diaper consumption began. Fast forward nearly four years later and at 8 ½ years old, Boy Wonder was still wetting the bed.
I did what all desperate parents do; I went to the internet for support. While I was able to find medical advice on the subject, what I couldn’t find were discussions from real parents about older children and bedwetting. Suddenly I felt very alone and overwhelmingly concerned. Was my kid the exception? Was there an underlying medical cause? What if this problem lasted forever?
I sought the advice of my pediatrician who ruled out potential medical causes and told me that Boy Wonder’s situation was not uncommon (could have fooled me). He also told me in fancy medical terms that a connection needed to be made in the brain of a child before they’d be able to sleep through the night dry. He assured me Boy Wonder’s brain just hadn’t gotten there yet, but that it would – in its own time. In other words, he was asking us both to wait it out.
Sit back and do nothing? Obviously Boy Wonder’s pediatrician didn’t know me very well.
We tried the whole “do nothing” approach for a while, but when 3-year-old BooBoo started making it through the night dry and 8-year-old Boy Wonder still wasn’t able to, bedwetting started to have a serious affect on his already fragile self-esteem.
According to WebMD, “Wetting the bed can be upsetting, especially for an older child. Your child may feel bad and be embarrassed. You can help by being loving and supportive. Try not to get upset or punish your child for wetting the bed.”
I cannot stress the importance of that advice enough. As frustrating as the nighttime wetting was for me as a parent, it was nothing compared to the personal sense of failure bedwetting meant to my son. He felt betrayed by his body and frustrated by his inability to will a dry night. The worst part was that there was little I could do to help.
My son was ashamed of those overnight diapers, so much so that he’d hide them in his bag when he spent the night at his grandparents’ house, never once daring to dispose of them there. He even went so far as to ask that I cover his nighttime diapers in our Target shopping cart just so some random passerby wouldn’t spot them in our cart and know.
We tried the whole no beverages at least two hours before bedtime, waking him in the middle of the night to pee; we even considered a bedwetting alarm. Just when the bedwetting had reached the height of personal frustration, one day at 8¾ years old, Boy Wonder woke up dry. We didn’t know why it happened or how, but he did and he continued to wake up dry every morning thereafter. I guess his brain had finally made the connection.
To my fellow parents of older kids struggling with bedwetting, just know that sometimes pee happens for much longer than you or your child would have ever anticipated.
Just because no one’s talking about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
There’s no shame in having a child who wets the bed; our kids develop in their own time. Discuss any concerns you may have about bedwetting with your child’s pediatrician but a prescription for patience and reassurance toward your child might be all that you need.
Do you have an older child who struggled with bedwetting?
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