Impacts & Concerns
Millions of children over the age of 5 are bedwetters. As a parent you should not feel that it is a problem only experienced by you and your family.
Most parents do not worry or seek help for the bedwetting if their child is less than 5 years of age. After this age, parents begin to wonder if the bedwetting will go away or begin to fear something is wrong. Children aged 5 and over usually begin to notice their friends do not wet or do not wear nappies or pull-ups and they can become irritated or concerned that others may find out.
Impact on Family
As the bedwetting continues, you are likely to become frustrated with constantly changing clothes and bedding or buying nappies and pull-ups. Parents and family members are frequently stressed by a child’s bedwetting. Soiled linens and clothing cause additional laundry. Wetting episodes can cause lost sleep if the child wakes and/or cries, waking the parents. A European study estimated that a family with a child who wets nightly will pay about $1,000 a year for additional laundry, extra sheets, disposable absorbent garments such as nappies/pull-ups, and mattress replacement.
Sleepovers and camps are more common with older children, and these can cause bedwetters to fear that they will have an accident away from home.
Bedwetting teenagers get very anxious because of concerns they will be discovered, or they fear they will never outgrow the problem.
Impact on Self-Esteem
Whether bedwetting causes low self-esteem remains a subject of debate, but several studies have found that self-esteem improves with management of the condition. Children questioned in one study ranked bedwetting as the third most stressful life event, after parental divorce and parental fighting. Adolescents in the same study ranked bedwetting as tied for second with parental fighting.
Bedwetting children face problems ranging from being teased by siblings, being punished by parents, and being afraid that friends will find out.
Psychologists report that the amount of psychological harm depends on whether the bedwetting harms self-esteem or development of social skills. Key factors are:
- How much the bedwetting limits social activities like sleep-overs and camps
- The degree of the social ostracism by peers
- Anger, punishment, and rejection by caregivers
- The number of failed treatment attempts
- How long the child has been wetting
Medical literature states and studies show that punishing or shaming a child for bedwetting will frequently make the situation worse. Doctors describe a downward cycle where a child punished for bedwetting feels shame and a loss of self-confidence. This can cause increased bedwetting incidents, leading to more punishment and shaming.