I write this article from personal experience, you should always seek medical advice (which I wish we had done sooner).
I have two children, aged now 7 (girl) and 10 (boy), and so experienced potty training from both perspectives.
Here is my personal advice to parents with children who are aged between 7 and 12 to stop bedwetting. These are not the usual tips you have already seen, this is advice from personal experience having successfully moved my child from bedwetting to dry nights.
But first I will tell you our story. (I will refrain from mentioning names of doctors and medication)
My son (aged 10) is my first-born, and since I had no experience to go by I thought his potty training was normal.
However, once I went through my daughter’s potty training I quickly realised that my son really did take a long time and struggled with it. By the time my daughter was aged 3, she was already sleeping through the night without any pull-ups.
My biggest regret is that I did not seek medical advice then, I should have realised that at aged 5 my son should already be sleeping through the night without bedwetting, he wasn’t. But we always hoped it would ‘just happen’ as it did for our daughter.
Both my Dad and Brother struggled with this, and so we also thought it may be a family history and hereditary, so we hoped it would eventually resolve itself.
However, for the next three years, I spent even more hours googling tips and advice on natural ways to stop the bedwetting. We stopped drinking at 5 pm, we set alarms to wake up to take him to the loo, and all the other great tips out there. It was exhausting.
At 8 years old we went to a paediatrician and they did various test and scans, we got the all-clear and we were given a nose spray. But the spray used to make his nose bleed and it became very traumatic, plus it wasn’t working after months of trying. We decided to stop the spray.
After that, we took him to a local GP, who then prescribed a pill (I will not name the Dr nor the medication, which apparently was used many years ago but is still being used now). However, we gave it to him once and we were absolutely horrified by the effect it had on him. He was like a zombie totally spaced out and extremely quiet (unlike him at all!). We immediately decided this was not the way forward and we would rather wait this out naturally than give our son drugs. A harsh lesson we learnt and still regret.
When he turned 9 and overnight sleepover requests started coming in we realised we needed to get real professional help, as everything we were doing did not help and it was now starting to impact his confidence. And so we did, what we learnt was incredible and I am proud to say at 10 years old (yes I know this seems like a long road but we did it) he is completely dry, his confidence is back, he is sleeping so much better and his moods during the day are also better. I will tell you below why all these things matter and what we learnt from the professionals we visited.
Here are my tips:
My biggest regret is that we did not do anything earlier. At 5 years old your child should be able to have a dry night. If they are not please go see a professional.
I know all the articles say this, but I can really tell you that scolding and any other negative commentary does NOT help! This is a physical thing and it has nothing to do with your child’s want or need to do it. Please do not make your child feel like it’s their fault, or scold them or make them feel bad about it. It’s physiological and not mental.
Don’t ask your child to go to the loo
If you’re reading this article then this tip might be a little too late. But it was something that hit home for me when we went to seek medical help. What I constantly kept asking my son was ‘please go wee’, and in fact what I should have been asking is ‘do you feel like you need to go wee’. The big difference here is, the feeling question lets your child think about the ‘feeling’ of wanting to go wee, this is important for the brain to recognise this and the child to recognise this feeling. It’s a simple thing, but one that plays a part in bedwetting.
Seek the right medical advice
This is where I am going to really give you my personal opinion, because at this point we had already seen separately a doctor and a paediatrician, and nothing was working.
This is especially important if your child is 8 years and older. By this point, you can assume there is most likely a problem and the longer you leave it the more it will affect your child’s emotional wellbeing.
Go straight to see a Pelvic & Urotherapy specialist. The one we visited is based in Sunninghill, Gauteng. All I can say is they were absolutely amazing and again I repeat my only regret is that we did not do this when he was 5 years old or the minute we realised there could be a problem.
I was referred by a friend whose child was 5-years old and the time it took to have dry nights was a matter of a few months for him. Whereas, my son who was older it took that much longer (1 year) but we are there!
Here is their website: http://urotherapy.co.za/bedwetting/
Go check it out they have amazing advice, tips and medical articles reasoning why their method is proven.
Please Moms if you are reading this, you will not regret it. They have a proven solution that works, do it for yourself and do it for your child.
The long term implications of bedwetting are massive on your child, from lack of sleep to emotional wellbeing. The Pelvic & Urotherapy specialist will run through all of this in your first appointment, so I will not elaborate but in that first appointment, it really hit home why he was struggling and there was actually nothing more we could have done. He needed the specialist help we got.
It was a long road, but a successful one that I don’t think would have happened naturally anytime soon. We had to do special exercises to strengthen his pelvis and stretch his bladder, and only when that happened did we start medication. It was closely monitored, he did not have any side effects, we had regular visits with the doctor and we had to follow a close schedule along with changing some of his eating and drinking habits.
That first dry night, even thinking about it now, I get teary. My son was so emotionally happy and proud of himself. Once he realised he could do it, everything changed. He slept better, he was happier and less moody because he was sleeping better – an overactive bladder interrupts a child’s sleep pattern so whilst you think they are deep sleepers and the reason they’re not waking up to go wee, is not the case. Some children suffer from overactive bladders which actually keeps the brain awake all night long. So essentially, in the long run, they are sleep deprived and this plays a large role in their emotional development, especially in boys.
Please give this article a share, we are not alone and this topic should not be something that is considered embarrassing! So many boys and girls are struggling, it is no different from that of a child seeing an OT.