How to manage bed wetting in older children

Older children and bed wetting
Older child worried about her bed wetting.

Manage bed wetting in older children

Bed wetting in older children is more common than you may think.

Many parents of older children (primary school age or older) are worried that every other child is keeping dry and their child has a unique, rare problem. This is not the case at all!

Ten percent of six year olds wet the bed, as well as five per cent of ten year olds. That adds up to a relatively common problem across Australia.

The difficulty in managing bed wetting in older children is the child gets more frustrated and upset as he or she gets older. They panic if they have a bedwetting accident, don’t want to go on school camps or sleepovers and find going to bed every night upsetting. That becomes distressing for parents too!

Rest assured, bed wetting in older children is not a sign of laziness. They simply have bladders that can’t hold as much fluid or haven’t yet learned to sense the fullness signals.


So what can be done to help manage bed wetting in older children?


Never punish children for bed wetting accidents, as it is beyond their control. Drastic disciplinary measures can often cause more bed wetting problems than they solve.

Explain to your child how the body parts work together, keeping it simple and using words your child understands, such as:

  • your kidney makes the wee
  • your bladder stores the wee
  • your brain tells your bladder to empty and tells you to wake up

When children understand how their body works they can disconnect from the emotional aspect of the accident by saying – ‘my bladder got full, but my brain didn’t wake me up.’ Giving children that chance to distance themselves from responsibility is comforting.

It’s always wise to see a doctor to make sure there is not an underlying medical condition that could be the cause of the problem.

Consider products such as bed wetting alarms, which help children learn to wake up when their bladder is full.

Limiting drinks late in the evening is a temporary fix, as the child needs to learn to sense a full bladder, so only use that option for sleepovers. Similarly, try to avoid waking the child to visit the toilet.

It is important to have adequate bed protection to ensure that the mattress is always protected. I recommend a full mattress protector for the overall protection of the mattress and of course the Up and Under Linen & Mattress Protector, which protects all bedding from above and below, making clean up a breeze.


The dreaded sleepover

Discretion is key for slumber parties and sleepovers. Children can get very anxious about their friends finding out about their embarrassing secret. There are many great pull-up and absorbent pants (don’t call them nappies) available. Talk to your child about how to keep their supplies hidden from unwanted attention and speak to your parent host about your child’s concerns. Unfortunately, fretting about potential accidents reduces your child’s enjoyment of the sleepover, but it doesn’t make it more likely for an accident to occur.

The most important piece of advice for managing bed wetting in older children is patience! You may try a variety of strategies, but most certainly the child will grow out of bed wetting in his or her own time. Give your child the confidence and reassurance that they will eventually outgrow this problem and that they have your love and support during this sometimes distressing time.



Medical disclaimer:

The general information provided in this article is provided for background purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Seek assistance from a health care professional in applying this information to your individual and specific circumstances.


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