Bedwetting or night time enuresis can happen at any age. Wetting the bed after a child is potty-trained can be expected – and is usually just a matter of time – until the child is older. Here are some things to keep in mind when you have a younger child wetting the bed.
First, at an early age, bedwetting is more of a problem for the the parent than it is for the child. You may be frustrated at your child’s apparent lack of maturity, especially as they are entering pre-school and kindergarten, a time when you may remember being dry at night. At this age, your reaction to your child’s bedwetting can have lasting effects. If you make a big deal about your child wetting the bed, they may equate this to them being “bad.” If they have periods of dry and then wet nights, this can be extremely devastating as they alternate between being a “good girl” and a “bad girl.”
Think of wetting the bed as a developmental stage like growing taller or gaining weight rather than learning to walk or knowing their ABC’s. It is out of their immediate control, so don’t draw attention to it as being a giant accomplishment when they are dry and a setback if they wake up with wet sheets in the morning.
A good age at starting to treat bedwetting is around the age of six or seven. At this age they have developed mentally to the point where they can differentiate between their bedwetting making them a “good kid” or a bad one, and with guidance from their parents can start a treatment program on the right foot. This is the time when kids may be starting to sleep over at a friend’s house, and starting to realize they may be different from other kids and want to stop wetting the bed.
Many times bedwetting is present in not only one but multiple children in the family. In these situations, it can be tempting to start both children on a treatment program at the same time. This can be frustrating to both kids, as one or the other will undoubtedly be dry through the night first, leading to resentment and fighting, not to mention resentment when parents praise one child and not the older. If possible, start the older sibling on a program first, and then start the younger child once the older child has had some significant success.
Bedwetting prior to age 6 or 7 may do more harm than good. Waiting until age 7 or 8 to start a treatment program (bedwetting alarm, bladder stretching, etc.) is probably a better idea. Your child needs to be mature enough to fully participate in the program, and prior to age 6 or 7 may just outgrow it on their own as their bodies mature.