Bet Wetting- What To Do and Not To Do To Help My Successful Modern Child Gain Bladder Control

Bet wetting is a natural part of learning to control the bowel. We want to be patient and supportive as our children learn mastery over their bodily functions. Unfortunately, for the parent who needs to awaken several times during the night, for the parent who is so tired of changing and washing sheets, and losing a good night’s sleep; the bed wetting stage seems to drag on endlessly. And though we don’t want to, we often end up having a frustrated, overbearingly emotional reaction to our child’s lack of success.

One brilliant way to marvelously help our children healthily along in their bowel control process is to give them responsibility over it. If your child is old enough to get dressed by himself, he is ready to be responsible for his bed-wetting.

 Progressively and without anger; teach your child that he is responsible to remove his wet clothing and sheets, rinse or wet wipe himself, get dressed, lay down a towel, and get back in bed. There is no reason for you to get up at night once you teach your child to take care of his own messes. And, then, ever so slowly; your child will learn to take responsibility for his soiled possessions and for his bladder.

Cruel and unjust punishment? Are you cringing to think of a wet, tired child needs to do this himself in the middle of the night? Where is the loving parent to make her dry and lull her back to sleep, right?

Rewarding Successes

Parents often ask about the ever-famous “Pee Pee Prizes“. No, don’t waste your money nor teach your child that at every tiny milestone in life, there is a prize. In the long-run, it does your child no good; and actually, steals from him the internal motivation to do something because of its intrinsic value. So, no, no pee-pee prize. And if you are already giving pee-pee prizes or you really do feel the strong desire to reward your child for his successes, do it as follows.

Change the rules of what gets him a prize. No longer reward your child for ‘good performance’ (made it to the pot on time, didn’t have an accident at night) and not reward him for ‘poor performance’. Reward him irrelevant of what happened, what outcomes were reached. “I’d like to give this to you because you are trying so hard," or "I got you a prize because you are beautiful/because I’m proud of who you are."

What does not help:
Reacting with emotion-laden anger, frustration, or sympathy.
  • “Why didn’t you get up and go!?”
  • “You are too old to be wetting in your bed”
  • “Oh, again! I’m sick of this. The laundry! I’m so tired!”
  • “Oh, you must feel so bad about it. It’s not so bad really.”

What does help:
Dealing with it from a logical, yet encouraging way.
  • “I see it’s wet. Let’s change the sheets”
  • “OK, so you wet the bed at night. So what, accidents happen.”
  • “I see you changed the sheets and took care of it all by yourself at night. Thank you.”

Humor is great too (so long as the child understands you are with him, not laughing at him.)

“Oh boy, how fun… you get to help me wash the sheets again. More quality time for us!”

“When I was a little boy, I remember when I went all over myself in class and I just wanted to die!”

Even if your neighbor’s younger child is already dry at nights (and doing fourth grade math while juggling on a bouncy ball) and you feel like a total failure for doing it all wrong, don’t. You are doing it all perfectly right. Your child is doing things at exactly the perfect pace the Universe has deemed right for him. Any pressure and comparisons are counter productive, will only slow down his progress, and will fill your child with an undue sense of guilt and failure.

This stage will be over. It will, believe me. And yes, as unearthly hard as it may seem at times, your job is to help your child feel confident, proud, and secure in who he is through and throughout this stage.

  1. When you feel frustrated about your child missing again, leave the room, sing, put on a fake smile. Do whatever you need to not let your child feel that tension, which he will self-inflict upon himself as guilt and anger.
  2. Decide on the one next thing your child can be responsible for himself in cleaning up the mess. Place the spare clothing or towel next to his bed at night and, though it may be hard at first, encourage your child to take care of it alone.

This article was reprinted with permission from Gabi, originally appearing as How To Help My Bed Wetter .

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SMC was created by Gabi, MA in Psychology, International Parenting Expert and Family Therapist. Gabi's research into raising successful modern children has taken her around the world. She has taught and inspired groups in Israel, USA, Panama, Peru, and Cambodia.Gabi guides parents to their fullest light around the globe in group teleconference and live workshops. Gabi also takes a very limited number of one-on-one clients for transformational parenting, family, life, and trauma therapy. You may reach Gabi directly at

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