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When my son was two years old, his best friend was born. He’s been by his sister’s side since she came home from the NICU at two weeks old.
That summer, A few months before Seth was three, he decided it was time to potty train. I wasn’t ready, but he was. So we went with it. He was fully potty trained, having almost no accidents, within a month. However, at night, he couldn’t keep his underwear/diaper/Pull-up dry. After accomplishing the mountain of potty training, we felt like this was a pretty good success, and we’d continue to encourage him to keep his bed dry at night. Over the next three years – yes, three years – it felt like we’d tried everything.
We had a prize bucket and he got to choose a prize if he kept his bed dry at night. We tried sticker charts. There was a jar we filled with a scoop of rice every night he was dry. When it reached the top, he got a big prize. We tried disciplining. We lectured him and told him he was a big kid now, so he needed to stay dry at night. We’d let him pee in his bed and hoped his body would be uncomfortable and he’d wake himself up and eventually learn not to do that. We tried taking him to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The list goes on. I talked to lots of friends who mentioned it took their boys longer to stay dry at night, but he’d get it eventually. I admit, things looked bleak.
Before my daughter’s 2nd birthday, she decided she wanted to be potty trained too. Everyone else in the family went potty on the big potty, why not her? Within three days, she was potty trained. Not only that, but she was able to keep her bed dry with no accidents.
I still remember the morning Abigail woke up with dry underwear. We clapped and cheered for her. Seth stumbled out of his room to see what the ruckus was. Inside, I cringed. This was it. The moment his baby sister accomplished what Seth could not.
He looked at Abigail with wide eyes and his mouth dropped open. Then, ever so slowly (it felt like eternity), the corners of his mouth turned up in a huge grin.
“You did it, Abigail!” He shouted and jumped up and down, clapping.
Best. Brother. Ever.
Abigail, who is now three, has never wet the bed. Seth, who is now five, has never stayed dry three nights in a row.
We haven’t made a big deal out of it. We try not to draw attention to it. But over the last year and a half, Seth has started to notice. At first he was asking why Abigail didn’t have to wear a Pull-Up. A few months would go by, then he’d ask if she kept her undies dry every night. And then finally, with slumped shoulders and a sight of defeat, he asked, “Mom? How come Abigail can keep her bed dry and I can’t?”
Does that break your heart or what?!
When I took Seth in for his five year checkup, the doctor said yep, he has enuresis, which is literally the inability to control his bladder while he sleeps. And surprisingly, he’s not alone. According to a GoodNites® brand study, it’s estimated that 1 in 6 children between the ages of 4-12 in the United States suffer from nocturnal enuresis, more commonly known as bedwetting. Seth is my oldest, I had no idea there was even such a thing as enuresis! I thought perhaps there was something we as parents were doing wrong. I thought maybe there was a technique I needed to try.
There is. It’s called, relax. 😉 Here are a few tips on how to accomplish this:
Settle in. You may be in for the long haul. Many parents don’t realize that bedwetting is a fairly common, developmental condition and they can’t “train” their child out of it. We just have to embrace that this is our new normal. Nothing we say or do is going to change how our child’s body is developing, nor how fast it will change.
No more consequences. Your child is already worried that his body isn’t functioning like he thinks it should. Or rather, it’s not functioning like you think it should. That stresses him out. It embarrasses him. It makes him think less of himself and affects his self-esteem. Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that psychologically, children who wet the bed do not want to participate in fun activities, such as sleepovers, because of their fear and embarrassment. He doesn’t need consequences for his nighttime bedwetting. Do away with all of them, even the “good” ones. If he wets the bed, that means he doesn’t get a reward, which is a negative consequence.
Encourage her. When she asks why everyone else can keep their bed dry at night and not her, put your arm around her and tell her that her body just works a little differently and that’s ok. She’s perfect the way she is. She has nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of.
Reduce your stress. No one wants to wake up in the morning to a bed of pee. That’s not fun for your child! I hate changing wet sheets. It sets my (grumpy) mood for the whole day. Just use nighttime protection to ensure that you and your child don’t start the day on the wrong/wet side of the bed.
Make night time protection fun and exciting. When I first learned about GoodNites® TRU-FIT* Underwear, I was so excited! I knew this was something that my son needed. They are real underwear with a disposable insert. They look like underwear, the feel like underwear, they fit like underwear. They’re washable, so Seth doesn’t just take it off and throw it away, like a diaper. This is real big kid stuff!
Do you see that face?
He was one proud kid.
When he put them on for the first time, I asked, “How do they feel?”
He smiled shyly and said, “Pretty good, Mom.”
Inside, I did an air fist bump.
Since he started wearing GoodNites® TRU-FIT* Underwear, my son hasn’t asked any more questions about why his sister can do something he can’t. He doesn’t worry as much about his nights, and he doesn’t wake up grumpy and itchy, soaked in pee. He is free to start his day, ready to explore and be a big kid.
He’s happier not having to dread morning time when he doesn’t get another sticker on his chart. He isn’t worried about wearing a “diaper” to bed because he has his big kid undies. He’s happier, which makes me happier.
Pull-Ups and GoodNites Potty Training Sweepstakes
Did you have a child who struggled to keep his bed dry at night? Do you know someone now how needs a help with their child who has enuresis?