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The statistics show that the older children get the less common bedwetting is. It’s something which affects just over 2% of 10 – 15 years-olds. On the one hand this is reassuring as it shows bedwetting is a problem which can be solved for most children. And yet, for those young people for whom it keeps happening, knowing this can make it even more frustrating and stressful to deal with!

Teenager asleep

Here are nine tips for parents who are keen to support young people to manage their bedwetting and stay motivated:

  1. Remember that bedwetting isn’t something that all kids grow out of necessarily so why wait if treatment is available? Teenagers may find the thought of talking about their bedwetting to a doctor or nurse daunting but reassure them that this is their job - they want to help and won’t judge.

  2. Encourage your child to get clued up about how a normal bladder and bowel works. This can help them to feel ownership towards their body and the issue. There’s information on why bedwetting happens, what to expect from an appointment and audio clips of young people talking about how continence problems affect them in the teens section of our website.
  3. It can be embarrassing to talk about, but it’s really important to check whether a poo problem could be causing the bedwetting. Suggest that your child keeps a poo diary and then help them to work out if they could be constipated which could be affecting their bladder. 

  4. Don’t underestimate how important it is for young people dealing with bedwetting to get into the habit of drinking plenty of the right stuff at the right time. They should be aiming for at least 6 – 8 drinks during the day and then nothing else to drink around an hour before bedtime. They should avoid having anything with caffeine in it (like energy drinks) close to bedtime as this type of drink can irritate their bladder.

  5. Girl on phone in bed You might not be very popular with your teen for suggesting this (!) but explain how important it is that they don’t have any screen time for at least an hour before bed. Science has proven that the blue light from phones, iPads and flat screen TVs tricks your body into thinking it’s still daytime and affects the way we prepare for sleep. This can mean we don’t sleep as well as we should and so bedwetting is more likely.
  6. Try to avoid putting any blame or shame on to your child when they wet the bed. It’s not happening because they’re lazy and can’t be bothered to get up in the night to do a wee. Bedwetting happens when they’re asleep so it’s outside of their conscious control. Feeling bad and guilty about bedwetting is natural – some kids will hide wet sheets and pretend they don’t care. This is a coping mechanism for something they can’t control and feel ashamed about.

  7. Give lots of reassurance, reward the positives and stay calm about the negatives. Praise them for practical things like helping to load the washing machine and drinking well during the day. This is more motivating for young people than only rewarding a dry night.

  8. Encourage them to get into bed each night repeating a positive mantra along the lines of “I can be dry – tonight I’m going to wake up before my bladder starts to empty”.

  9. Try to remove any barriers when your child gets invited on a sleepover. Bedwetting doesn’t mean they need to miss out. Ask your doctor about medication which can be given for nights away from home and take a look at ERIC’s blog which has lots more tips for dealing with camps and sleepovers: https://www.eric.org.uk/Blog/why-sleepovers-neednt-be-a-nightmare 

And finally...

Here’s some words of advice and encouragement from Sarah, now 18 years and has only recently stopped bedwetting: "Don't think that it’s just a problem for older people and little kids because, inevitably, you’ll end up feeling like you’re abnormal. That’s how I’ve felt. Just try to accept the situation as it is and don't compare yourself to other people your age. For all I know, there might be other people in my year who have got the same problem."

Visit the teens area