Debunking bedwetting myths with Dr. Jen Trachtenberg

BabyCenter Featured Expert

I’m Dr. Jen Trachtenberg, pediatrician, author, and mom of three. As a pediatrician I take pride in helping parents figure out solutions to their children’s conditions. Each school year, families flood into my office for last minute physicals and checkups. During the visit, parents often have questions about various topics and one of the most common is bedwetting.

Did you know that one in six kids in the U.S between the ages of 4-12 suffer from bedwetting? And while it’s very common, many parents are uncomfortable talking about it even with their pediatrician. This is why in partnership with the GoodNites brand, I’ve set out to educate families about bedwetting — dispelling the myths and correcting the vast misinformation out there. I hope to provide you with the bedwetting knowledge you’ll need to help your child best manage the condition.

Nighttime wetting, most commonly called bedwetting, is characterized by involuntary urination during sleep. Unfortunately, we don’t really know what causes bedwetting, but we do know that it can be triggered by physiological factors, biological factors or even a combination of the two. Bedwetting almost always results in some level of emotional and psychological stress for both you and your child. It’s important to understand that it’s no one’s fault and your child isn’t wetting the bed on purpose. It’s completely out of his or her control.

Often, many parents use techniques that unknowingly put the blame on their child and reinforce the message that wetting the bed is an embarrassing, secretive act. Instead, always keep things positive and avoid making light of the situation. Allow your child to talk openly with you about his bedwetting experience. This honest dialogue can ease frustration and reduce confusion. Look for other ways to boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem by talking about activities they are good at or enjoy. Additionally, reassure your child they are not alone in this and that you’ll manage it together. Keep reminding your child that bedwetting is common and most importantly won’t last forever.

While talking to your child is extremely important, don’t forget that you should also reach out to your pediatrician. The American Academy of Pediatricsemphasizes the importance of speaking with your child’s doctor about bedwetting and working to develop the proper management program for your family. A great time to discuss bedwetting is during your child’s yearly check-up. Be sure to include your child in this discussion too as kids who hear from parents and pediatricians that they aren’t alone will ultimately have greater self-confidence.

I have spent numerous hours over the years listening to mom’s concerns about bedwetting and it is quite clear many of you are confused and seeking guidance. Here are some of the common bedwetting myths I hear on a regular basis:

MYTH: You can train your child out of bedwetting.
REALITY: Bedwetting is not a training issue, but a condition that will resolve itself as the child grows.

MYTH: Rewarding your child will help them stop bedwetting.
REALITY: Positive reinforcement is not an effective treatment because bedwetting is not something a child can control.

MYTH: Your child’s bedwetting is a serious medical disease.
REALITY: Bedwetting is not a disease, but a common and temporary condition.

MYTH: Bedwetting will not impact my child’s self confidence.
REALITY: Bedwetting may make your child feel embarrassed, inadequate, and/or guilty and can have a lasting emotional impact.

MYTH: Strict punishments will help my child stop wetting the bed at night.
REALITY: Bedwetting is not a training issue, so strict punishments will have no effect on your child’s ability to stay dry at night. Punishing your child will, however, directly affect your child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Your child takes their cues from you, so it is important to remain calm and positive and help them manage bedwetting in a productive way.

MYTH: You can cure bedwetting by waking your child up at night to use the bathroom.
REALITY: Waking your child up will not cure bedwetting, but can hurt their sleep cycle and lead to attention and irritability problems during the day.

MYTH: Using bedwetting management solutions will prolong your child’s bedwetting.
REALITY: Since bedwetting is beyond the child’s control, solutions such as GoodNites provide support, comfort and protection for kids every night.

As a mom, you are your child’s greatest ally, so remember that while the condition can be frustrating at times, you should remain optimistic and continuously remind your child that bedwetting is temporary and can be managed effectively with the proper solutions.