Mahad asks: My four-year-old son is in the habit of bedwetting. Do you have any suggestions? I really want to resolve this issue because it is becoming problematic for us.
Oh Mahad –
I so feel for both your son and you. It’s very difficult, I know, to live with someone in your house who has bladder control, and it’s painful and humiliating to be the one with that problem.
With me it’s been slightly different. I was able to get paper-trained and house-trained very quickly. After that, there were a couple of times when Handsome was so stressed out it made me lose control, but otherwise I’ve been fine. With one exception!
That exception is that dogs, unlike people, get inspired to pee. The reason we go to trees, fire hydrants, and such the second we get outside is that we want to pee, but sniffing another dog’s pee smell starts our engines turning. This is great for leaving trails, marking territory, and all. But it can also cause a big problem. What if we’re inside a house, and another dog has peed (or pooped, or thrown up) there? What if there’s a bit of a residue of it on the floor, or in the carpet? We have no choice! We get one whiff of that, and our system gets going, and we don’t even have time to whine or walk away, we just pee (or worse) right there. And then the people always yell at us, or at our owners, that it’s our fault, that we’re not trained well enough. When, if anything, it’s the fault of whoever cleaned it up but didn’t do it well enough (there are products made with enzymes that break the residue down organically; those are the best things for indoor marking).
But here I am talking about myself instead of about your son (Am I marking my territory, perhaps?!). And human bedwetting is a very different situation.
It might sound obvious, but there are only two reasons for a child of four to still be wetting his bed: It’s either physical or emotional. Some people just have weaker muscles in that area, and they simply can’t hold it in (this is why we hear about old people wearing diapers – they know how to keep it in, but those muscles have gotten weaker in their old age, and so they don’t have the same control they once did). So the first thing you should do is have a physician check your son out. Especially if he’s never been able to get through the night without wetting.
But if it’s emotional (which is much more common), then it’s a more interesting dilemma. Kids wet beds for many reasons. Often it’s that they’re very afraid and anxious. Sometimes they don’t want to grow up. Sometimes it’s a sign of a deep-seated anger, and it’s the only way they can let it out. If it’s one of these things, your goal is to help your child find other ways of expressing themselves.
But no matter what, the best solution tends to be what’s called a Bell-and-Pad system. It’s an electrical device that the child sleeps on, which rings an alarm when it senses moisture. This trains the child to wake up and go to their toilet, instead of peeing their whole bladder into the bed. Over time, the child learns to wake up when they just feel pressure, the way you and I do.
To summarize, Mahad, I want you to first take your son to see a doctor, just to make sure there isn’t anything physiological going on. But if not, the doctor can probably recommend a good bell-and-pad to help your son out. And if that’s not enough, I recommend finding a good child therapist or psychologist, who can work with your son to find what’s bothering him, and help him move on from it.
This is truly one area where resolving the issue makes EVERYONE happier. So I wish you great luck!