Waking the child at night
This is the most common mistake. By waking up your child at night, the responsibility for staying dry is transferred from the child to the parents. Children empty their bladder regardless of pressure within the bladder. There is no learning process, and children become accustomed to emptying their bladder during sleep. It is important for the child to take responsibility for staying dry.
Fluid restriction before sleep time accustoms the bladder to function at night with a small amount of fluid.
Bobbie, a 7 year old, returns home from the playground crying bitterly. In an attempt to increase his son’s motivation to stop bedwetting, his father talks to him in earshot of other children in the playground, and asks him if he thinks normal children still wet the bed. Bobbie is both embarrassed and miserable.
Many parents have good intentions, but they make the mistake of punishing or embarrassing a bedwetter thinking that it will lead to modified behavior. Parents need to know that the primary sufferer is the child. Urination during sleep is an unconscious activity and is not done on purpose. When a parent shows disappointment or punishes the child, it only aggravates the problem.
Forcing a child to wash his wet bedding and pajamas
The "logic" behind this idea is that the child should be responsible for his deeds. If he wet the bed he has to wash his wet bedding and pajamas. This way he will learn to avoid urination while he is asleep. Unfortunately, this "advice" is being given by professionals that assume that the child is not making enough effort. The child is humiliated and frustrated. He does not wet the bed on purpose and feels that nobody understands. He is punished for something which is not his fault. This also increases the feeling that he disappoints his parents. It is needless to say that this is not going to solve the bedwetting problem but might create tension between the child and his parents.
Another way of dealing with bedwetting is by overprotection. Instead of helping the child to cope with the problem, the parents wrap him with layers of protection. They feel guilty that their child is suffering from bedwetting and they don't allow him to deal with the problem. The parents take responsibility, sometimes they deny the problem’s existence, or they are scared of offending their child. In the clinic, when I refer to the child, they answer instead of him.
Occasionally we find overprotection with children that suffered at an early age from a severe medical problem. Although the child has fully recovered, the parents feel the need to protect and compensate him. We also find that this behavior is more common among parents that had a child after many years of infertility.
Overprotection is not a solution because it is important that the child take responsibility for his actions and his own body.
Ignoring the problem
Some parents completely ignore the problem’s existence hoping it will just go away. They ignore their child's distress. The child needs his parents' support and understanding. When the parents ignore the problem, the child feels that he has no one to rely on.
Comparison between siblings
Sometime, a younger sibling is already dry. Obviously an older child suffering from bedwetting feels embarrassed, jealous and even shameful about the situation. A common mistake is comparison between siblings. The parents assume that if the 5 years old younger brother has already outgrown bedwetting, it means that the 8 years old sibling is wetting the bed on purpose. The older child is accused of being lazy or apathetic: "If your younger brother could do it, you can do it too". This parent's attitude leads to the child's frustration and helplessness. This comparison adds a great deal of pressure and will aggravate the problem. It can also cause emotional problems.
An easy but wrong method to deal with the bedwetting problem is by using pull-ups. It is perfectly alright when pull-ups are being used with 4-5 years old but when it is being used with older children, it is a big mistake. It suppresses any motivation to become dry; the message delivered by the parents is that they anticipate that he will wet the bed and that they do not expect him to cope with the problem. Instead of coping with bedwetting they perpetuate it. There is no learning process. As the child's age progresses it might lead to low self esteem, low confidence and additional emotional problems that could be avoided.