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How to Cope with a Child Dealing with Incontinence

How to Cope with a Child Dealing with Incontinence

July 31, 2014

If you’re the parent of a bed wetter, dealing with incontinence can be frustrating and embarrassing. You may wonder what is wrong with your child, or whether he or she has an emotional problem. You might be surprised to learn that incontinence is extremely common in children, and that 20 percent of all children who are five years of age suffer from bed wetting. What’s more, a full 10 percent of children, age seven, still struggle with incontinence issues. So if your youngster is suffering from incontinence problems, you can rest assured that he or she isn’t alone with this problem. 

Different Types of Incontinence

If your child has not had a period of six months or more of being dry, his or her condition is considered “primary enuresis.” If the child has not had an accident for six months or more, the child is suffering from “secondary enuresis.” In many cases of secondary enuresis, the child may be suffering from anxiety or another stressor.

There are two types of incontinence. The more common type, often called “bed wetting” is the nighttime incontinence, or nocturnal enuresis. It is more common in boys than girls. In most cases, children who suffer from this type of incontinence are normal both emotionally and physically. About 20 percent of those who have nighttime incontinence also have diurnal enuresis or daytime incontinence. Girls are more likely to have daytime incontinence.

What Causes Incontinence in Children?

In most cases incontinence is something a child grows out of. Incontinence is usually caused by factors that doctors call “nonorganic.” The nonorganic reasons include holding urine, not getting signals that the bladder is full, urine over production, or even genetic reasons. If the parents of the child suffered from incontinence when they were children, there is a 45 percent chance their children will suffer from incontinence as well.

What to Do When Your Child Suffers from Incontinence

Before you start a program to help your child with his or her incontinence, you should have them examined by a pediatric doctor. There are certain conditions that can cause incontinence, such as diabetes or kidney infections that may need to be treated if your child suffers from them.

Once a doctor determines that the cause of your child’s incontinence is nonorganic, you can help your child stop bed wetting. Children that suffer from nighttime incontinence are already embarrassed by their condition. The best course of action is to use positive reinforcement to teach your child to urinate frequently during the day, restrict water before bedtime, and periodically wake the child to go to the bathroom during the night. Couple this with incontinence bed pads and a bed wetting alarm, and you may find an effective way of treating your child’s incontinence.

Moisture alarms (or bed wetting alarms) are effective at stopping the child from urinating, even though they may not wake. You will need to wake the child and bring him or her to the bathroom and encourage them to urinate. Then, change the incontinence bed pads, the sheets, and your child’s pajamas before having the child return to bed. Be positive and praise your child when he or she goes to the bathroom correctly.

Remember that in most cases, incontinence will pass, and your child will be able to sleep throughout the night without a problem.

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