Let me share my journey to help my son end nightly bedwetting. I hope our story will help you feel less alone, save you and your child needless frustration and hopefully help solve your family’s struggles with bedwetting.
My son wet the bed every night until he was eight years old. About age four, I began to mention the problem to my pediatrician. He assured me this was very common and my son would probably out grow the bedwetting. Therefore, until the age of six, my son wore pull ups every night and we just really didn’t worry about it too much.
Once he started first grade and friends began coming over more, my son began to feel embarrassed of the pull ups. A buddy, who was over playing, saw them in my son’s closet and teased him about “still wearing diapers”. At that point, my son asked to quit wearing the pull ups. I agreed, secretly hoping that waking up uncomfortable in wet pajamas would cause my son to take control of his wetting. We put a plastic cover on the mattress, were careful he didn’t drink much after dinner and used the bathroom right before bed. After about six months, I began to think maybe he was just a bit lazy. I tried waking him up just before I went to bed to use the bathroom. None of this helped.
He occasionally had a dry night and we would celebrate. Every night I would encourage him to “try for dry”. He’d look at me with his big, brown eyes and say, “I’ll try, Mommy!” I tried explaining, “You know how you feel when you have to go to the bathroom during the day? Well, if you feel that pressure at night, you have to wake up and go to the bathroom.” (I didn’t realize at the time, that he was such a sound sleeper- his brain never recognized the full bladder signal.)
By the age of seven, I could see the bedwetting was chipping away at my son’s self esteem. His older brothers sometimes teased him. I lost my patience at times with the frustration of having to wash soiled sheets every single day of the year. I would always feel guilty after scolding him. At times he would try to hide the soiled sheets and underwear. And he became very worried about his friends finding out. Way too many worries for a seven year old!
That’s when I thought of the bribe, thinking a special new toy would motivate him. I bought a large castle that came with 10 small knights. I told my son each time he stayed dry, he would earn a knight. Then when he earned all the knights, he could have the castle. I thought I was a genius! He managed to stay dry two nights in a row, but went right back to wetting (Now I realize how hard he must have fought sleep to earn those knights.) Over the summer, he eventually stayed dry enough times to earn the castle but it didn’t solve the problem.
My pediatrician told me about the medications available, but I preferred not to try that route unless absolutely necessary. He also briefly mentioned the bedwetting alarms. I called several toy stores and drugstores to try to get more information about the alarms, but no one carried them.
So I went back to the old stand-by of no drinking after dinner, and waking him up before I went to bed. And the endless frustration and dirty laundry continued. I didn’t know anyone else whose child wet the bed-so I had no support system. My husband mostly pretended he didn’t notice. Meanwhile, my son became more and more irritable. My mother nicknamed him, Mr. Miserable. She said it jokingly, to try to tease him out of his downtrodden and dejected demeanor. He seemed to walk around with his head down, never really looking anyone in the eye. Several times he was invited to sleepovers, but broken heartedly turned them down. I ached to help him but I’d run out of ideas.
Finally, I went on the internet and researched the bedwetting alarms. Apparently they condition the brain to recognize full bladder signals while sleeping and help form different sleep patterns. I talked with my son about them and told him to let me know if he wanted to try the alarm. About a month after I mentioned them, he asked if he could give it a try. I told him if I spent the money for the alarm, he would have to promise to use it every night. I bought one that vibrated as well as sent out an alarm. It clipped on the underwear in the spot most likely to get wet first. A wire runs along to a small unit that pinned to the shoulder of his pajamas. When the clip gets wet, it sets off the unit which vibrates and sounds an alarm. The first week, my son slept right through the alarm. I’ d wake him, take him to the bathroom and take off the alarm. He had to try to finish peeing in the toilet and change his wet clothes. I would help him put the monitor back on. I’d purchased several waterproof mattress pads, so we took off the wet one and replaced it with a dry one. Then he would climb in and go back to sleep.
A few nights in the beginning, the alarm went off more than once through the night. Sometimes it felt like having a newborn again. During the first week, he was wet 5 days and dry 2 days. The second was a little better. The third week he was wet 5 days again and began fighting me about wearing the alarm. I calmly reminded him he promised to wear it. Over and over, I said, “I know it is frustrating, but you promised.” Or “You wish you would just learn to stay dry without having to wear the alarm, but the alarm is the only way to train your brain while you are sleeping.” I was really careful to stay upbeat and positive, praising him for just wearing the alarm. He earned extra bedtime book reading when he cooperated willingly with the process. We made sure to fill out the progress report each morning, so he could see how he was doing. When he would have a wet night and feel like giving up, I would remind him that learning something new takes time. Then I would compare it to learning to ride his bike. How hard it was at first. Then when he got a bit better, he would still often fall. But he didn’t give up, he kept trying and trying until he learned to keep his balance and now he never falls. The forth week, we had 4 dry nights in a row!
He wore the alarm every single night for ten weeks. At the end of week 10, he had 14 dry nights in a row! We kept the alarm by his bedside in case of a relapse. In the next six months, that only happened twice. He became a much happier child, tons more smiles and much more positive attitude. I actually had his little league coach come up and ask me what had changed. He said, “Your son never used to look at me, let alone talk with me, now he’s Mister Self confident!” My son is now a teenager and the bedwetting is just a distant memory for him. I sometimes wonder if he would still be wetting the bed, if we hadn’t tried the alarm.
I know you are looking for the right answers for you and your child. Making the choice to use a bedwetting alarm is one of the best decisions I have made as a parent. It required patience and dedication, but the end result was worth every single minute of lost sleep. Look at it this way, a few minutes of lost sleep for a few weeks versus 52 more weeks of wet nights. And the sheer joy you will both experience at working together to finally stop the bedwetting will make it all worthwhile!
Purchase my book for your child and read it together. It explains bedwetting and bedwetting alarms in a fun way- without ever mentioning the word bedwetting. Your child will definitely relate to the young prince who struggles with “the Wet Knights” and eventually defeats them by using an alarm. My book is full of dragons and knights which children love, and it provides a light hearted look at the challenges of defeating “the Wet Knights.” I hope our journey gives you hope and courage. Please feel free to contact me via my website, www.braveryandgrace.com, contact page. I look forward to receiving your questions and success stories.