Bedwetting has posed a major concern for most parents in our Nigerian homes. Once a child starts getting to 4 years of age, it is typically expected that such child wakes up on his or her own to use the urinary when they feel the urge to or at least signal to someone that they want to urinate. However, it is unfortunate that for some kids this doesn’t come so easily. Some bed wet even up to 10 years and above. You can already imagine how most parents or families react to this especially in our society. The child gets beatings on some days, curses on other days and on the fair days, name-calling.
But have anyone ever paused to wonder why these children bed wet? Is it their fault that they don’t have conscious control of their bladder while sleeping? Is there anything that could be done to help them?
The medical terminology for bedwetting is ‘nocturnal enuresis’ and is used to describe involuntary urination while asleep after the age when one is expected to have gained control over his or her bladder. Bed wetting is slightly different from the general term ‘urinary incontinence’ because it occurs mostly at night or when one is asleep but urinary incontinence is inability to control the bladder and can happen at any time of the day. Its causes also differ.
Most times bedwetting are not the children’s fault. Different factors can cause a child to bed wet such as:
• Small size of the bladder
• Inadequate secretion of antidiuretic hormone, a hormone produced by the posterior pituitary gland which reduces the volume of urine being produced
• Family history of bedwetting. If a parent did bed wet, chances are that one or two of the offspring might bed wet
• Excessive consumption of caffeine
• When the child is always in a deep sleep
• Other medical conditions can cause it such as congenital abnormalities that affects the urinary tracts, diabetes, urinary tracts infections (UTI) as well as constipation.
What should you do if your child bed wets?
Now, this is where most parents get it wrong. Beating up your child or punishing them may not help! It might only be helpful perhaps when the reason for their bedwetting is deep sleep or laziness to get up and urinate but the fact remains that in most cases, a factor beyond the child’s control could be the reason.
Here are things you could do as a parent or guardian to help your ward deal with nocturnal enuresis.
• Reduce the child’s intake of fluid in the evening time, especially fluids that contain caffeine such as tea and soda
• Ensure that the child urinates before getting into bed each night
• The toilet should be easily accessible to the child.
• Talk to your child so that he or she understands the need to wake up in the night to use the toilet
• Monitor your child’s bowel movement because constipation can also cause bedwetting
• Schedule bathroom breaks for your child (maybe every 2 to 3 hours) during the day, this will help them adapt easily during the night.
Finally, you should be a supportive and patient parent. Stop resorting to punishments and do enforce the ‘no teasing rule’ in the family so that no one teases the child about bedwetting. This will help keep the child’s confidence and self-image intact.