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David Coleman Column: My daughter still wets her bed – and she is nine

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My NINE-YEAR-OLD daughter still wets the bed sporadically. She wets the bed about three or four times a week.

We have tried many different methods including homeopathy and alarms but with no great success. However, the biggest issue arose last week when she went for her first sleepover at a friend's house.

Up to then we had been declining invitations as her bedwetting seemed so random. But she finally put so much pressure on that I agreed. Then, my worst fear, she wet the bed in her friend's house. y

Apparently her mum was lovely about it but my daughter was still mortified.

Since then she has been anxious going to bed and has wet the bed every night. I am so afraid that this has put her back even more and that we'll never sort the bedwetting.

Any help or advice would be so welcome.

A lot of children who wet the bed simply don't wake up

David replies:

I CAN well believe that your daughter was upset at having an accident at her friend's house. Many children are easily embarrassed by wetting the bed, especially in any public situation like sleepovers, overnights with a school trip, scout camps or such like.

Ironically, it is more than likely her bedwetting is due to physical immaturity since it sounds like it has been an ongoing problem and she has never been consistently dry at night.

In that sense she has little control over it and so should not feel bad or guilty.

Almost half of all children will wet the bed up to the age of three.

Night-time accidents are very normal up to the age of nine, with approximately one-in-10 children still wetting at night.

The increased bedwetting in the last week is probably anxiety related.

Perhaps she is worried about others finding out about her having wet the bed at her friend's? Perhaps she is worried about the reaction of her friend (even though the friend's mother has been lovely)?

So do get her to talk about what it was like to have had the accident last week.

Listen to her, and encourage her to express any worries or distress that she feels.

Then you can reassure her about the fact that it wasn't her fault. Hopefully, you can also reassure her that her friend will be both discreet and understanding (if that is indeed her friend's reaction).

In the longer term do keep focused on building her self-esteem. Self-esteem will lead to greater self-confidence, such that she may actually be able to acknowledge that this is a physical issue she has and so may be more confident about dealing with any similar accidents that may arise in the future.

Self-esteem can be helped by focusing on her strengths and abilities, helping her to feel valued and useful by including her in chores, giving her choice and responsibility and reminding her how loved and accepted she is.

You mention that you have tried homeopathy and an alarm to try to resolve the problem. I wonder if the alarm you speak about was a pad-and-bell type alarm that buzzes as soon as she starts to wet?

It sounds to me like you should also be going to the GP to both rule out any physical cause and to perhaps explore the option of medication. If you are going to the GP it will help to be prepared by keeping a diary of dry/wet nights over a few weeks. Sites like www.bedwetting.ie have such record sheets you can print off and fill out.

Usually bedwetting, like your daughter's typical pattern, is due to the volume of wee she produces at night and her brain's recognition (or not!) of the signals from her bladder that it needs to be emptied.

A lot of children who wet the bed simply don't wake up in response to the feeling of fullness.

So you could get her to pay close attention, during the day, to the feeling of "bursting to go to the loo". The more awareness she has of that full bladder feeling, while awake, the greater the likelihood that her brain will attend to it (and bring her awake at night) while she is asleep.

It is quite likely that she will physically mature in the next year or so to the point that the bedwetting will naturally stop.

In the interim try to keep her self-esteem high so that she can deal better with any accidents and then she may be confident to go back to sleeping over with friends.

Irish Independent