My child wets himself/herself
Children may have a bladder control problem – also called urinary incontinence (UI)- if they leak urine by accident and are past the age of toilet-training. A child may not stay dry during the day, called daytime wetting; or through the night, called bedwetting (in medical terms, this is referred to as nocturnal enuresis).
Daytime wetting and bedwetting are frequent concerns for parents and their children. Of course, during their early development years, the release of urine at night-time is normal, which is why infants wear nappies. On average, a child will gain control of their bladder somewhere between the ages of 2 and 4 – each in their own time. By age 4, when most children stay dry during the day, daytime wetting can become a noticeable issue. By ages 5 or 6, children might have a bedwetting problem if the bed is wet once or twice a week over a few months. If this is the case, it may be that some form of treatment is necessary.
Don’t forget that bedwetting can be very difficult for a child. Not only is it embarrassing, but it can stop them from doing their favourite activities. They may also face bullying from other children, if the problem is made public at nursery school or primary school. It is important to get psychological help for the whole family, to ensure that the behaviour does not continue into adulthood.
If your child suffers from daytime wetting, here are some key tips to remember:
If you are worried about your child’s daytime wetting or bedwetting, then the first step is to speak to a healthcare professional, most likely a neurologist or urologist. Before the appointment, track your child’s bathroom habits for three days in a bladder diary.
Make a note of the following:
Your healthcare professional can prescribe a short-term medication that could help. Before this, they may recommend some child behavioural change techniques, which take more time to implement, but are generally more effective in the long-term.
Child behavioural change techniques aim to encourage desired behaviours (e.g. self-control) whilst removing undesired behaviours (e.g. bedwetting). Incentives can be used to reward the child when they complete the desired behaviours, but punishments are never given if they perform undesired behaviours.
Throughout the process, a close eye is kept on the psychological and emotional state of the child, to ensure that they are feeling more independent and have more self-esteem, rather than feeling anxious, fearful or ashamed.
European Guidelines on Urinary Incontinence [Internet]. 2018 [cited 3 August 2020]. Available from:https://wfip.org/european-guidelines-on-urinary-incontinence/.
How to stop or manage daytime wetting [Internet]. 2018 [cited 3 August 2020]. Available from:https://www.eric.org.uk/how-to-stop-or-manage-daytime-wetting.
Nieuwhof-Leppink AJ, Schroeder RPJ, van de Putte EM, de Jong TPVM, Schappin R. Daytime urinary incontinence in children and adolescents. Lancet Child Adolesc Health. 2019 Jul;3(7):492-501.