Your questions answered:
At what age do children stop wetting the bed?
Bedwetting – also known as nocturnal enuresis – affects most children up to the age of three as the development of bladder function control can be a slow process.
It’s a common problem, especially in the under-fives and according to figures published by the British Medical Journal, at the age of five as many as 20 children in 100 will have difficulty in controlling their bladders at night-time
By age seven, this figure has dropped to around eight children in every 100, so we can see that most children will develop that vital mind/body link at around the age of six years.It’s at this age that children enter a new developmental phase. A good indicator of this happening is the loss of milk teeth. So, if your child is still bedwetting at night and is starting to lose teeth, I’d recommend looking at ways of helping them to become dry at night, such as introducing the “Stop Bedwetting in 7 Days” system. It shows it’s the right time and will support your child’s natural development.
The research goes on to show that by age 10, there are still 5 children in every 100 experiencing problems. So, not much progress is made with children who are simply left waiting for nature to take its’ course.
Studies also show that bedwetting children who are given professional help and advice are more likely to become dry than those who aren’t. With one or two children in every 100 failing to achieve night-time dryness altogether, it is vitally important to get help at the right time.
Some children never quite ‘grow out’ of their bedwetting habit, despite being told by doctors and health practitioners that this will automatically happen. Prolonged childhood bedwetting that’s allowed to continue into adulthood can manifest itself in many ways: difficulties forming relationships and getting jobs, susceptibility to stress, anxiety and even depression.
So whilst there’s no ‘right’ age for becoming dry at night, in my opinion there’s certainly a ‘wrong’ age for leaving the situation unchecked. It is possible to point your child in the right direction and encourage them to change their habits and behaviours naturally in order to stop bedwetting.
You may hear many reasons being put forward as possible causes of a bedwetting problem such as:
- the size of the bladder
- a urinary tract infection
- a lack of hormones to concentrate urine
- something that runs in families
- stress or anxiety
Some children are referred to Enuresis Clinics by their GPs and, as a first step in the process, it is sensible to rule out the possibility of any infection which can easily be treated with antibiotics, or to identify the possibility of some other physiological cause for the problem.
Once it’s been established that these do not play a part, the clinic will often suggest solutions such as using alarms in the bed, which will wake the child once wetness is detected. If alarms are not successful, children may be prescribed medication or drugs to concentrate their urine and even in extreme cases, will be offered anti- depressants.
Our bodies release a hormone whilst we sleep called vasopressin and this concentrates our urine. When children struggle to control their bladders at night, it’s often assumed that an absence of the hormone is the cause of this. Doctors however, do tell me that there is no definitive test to check whether this is the case in each particular child and so the use of a drug called Desmopressin – a synthetic hormone that mimics the action of the real hormone – is really a ‘best guess’.
It should solve the problem pretty much immediately, if it’s going to work at all, but I have come across children who have been taking it for many months and some even for years, without achieving dry nights – it’s still a hit and miss affair. After this time, it’s very likely that it’s not going to work at all and if your child is in this situation, I would recommend a return visit to the practitioner who prescribed it for you, with a view to stopping it altogether.
I believe the solution to this problem has to come ‘from within’ rather than from some sort of external crutch. Just like a smoker who quits cigarettes with the aid of nicotine replacement gum, or an overweight person who loses weight by drinking diet shakes, instead of eating proper food, the problem may appear to have been solved, but quickly returns once the crutch is taken away.
Neuro-psychologists now agree that there’s a complex co-ordination that needs to take place between the nerves and the muscles of the bladder and more often than not, a delay in this happening is what holds children back.
New neural pathways or connections are needed to be made in the brain, in order to achieve night-time dryness and my Stop Bedwetting in 7 days programme is designed to do just that. Only changes made on the ‘inside’ can be guaranteed to produce long-lasting results on the ‘outside’.
In a minority of cases, there can be a sudden onset of bedwetting. If your child has been dry at night for several months or even years and starts having wet beds again, this can be caused by an emotional upset such as a change at home or stress with school work. This is usually temporary and not the same as an ongoing bedwetting problem. Most parents know their children and will be able to tell the difference, so if your gut feeling is that there is no real explanation for the bedwetting – go with your instincts but do monitor the situation closely.
What kind of solutions are offered?
Type “bedwetting solutions” into any internet search engine and you’ll be given a number of options and often conflicting advice. It’s no wonder parents can end up feeling confused.
Some experts will say that the problem is the result of a small bladder and that your child will simply grow out of their bed wetting as they get older. This can be sound advice, but also a risky strategy in my opinion, as not all children do go on to grow out it and living with the problem for longer, could in fact, just make the habit become more deeply entrenched.
Others will recommend the use of electronic alarms – sensors are attached to the child’s pants or pyjamas at night time and trigger off an alarm bell as soon as wetness is detected. Patience is required with this method as it’s advised that the alarm is used consistently for at least 10 weeks before establishing whether it has worked or not.
For many families, this option doesn’t always work well and it’s not uncommon to hear stories of the bedwetting child continuing to sleep soundly through the sound of the alarm, as the rest of the household gets disturbed and woken up by the noise!
Some children get referred to specialist clinics that prescribe medication designed to concentrate the flow of urine at night time. It’s thought that the lack of a particular hormone is the cause of bedwetting. Too often though, I come across children taking this medication for several months or even years, for whom it simply doesn’t work.
In my experience of helping children with bed wetting problems, these methods can sometimes only manage the problem in the short term rather than cure it for good, so It’s not unusual for around 70% of children to go back to their old habits and behaviours after 2-3 months.
I believe the key to ending bedwetting once and for all is to encourage your child’s mind and body to work more closely together through a training programme of visualization exercises. Children’s minds are continually creating new connections called neural pathways, to accommodate new patterns of thinking and behaviour – in just the same way as they do when they learn how to swim or ride a bike.
In my Hypnotherapy and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) practice, I’ve been seeing children with bedwetting problems regularly since 2004. I believe I’ve developed a quicker, safer and more natural alternative to changing night time habits for good. It doesn’t involve any gadgets nor giving a child drugs – which has to be a good thing.
Alicia Eaton is a Children’s Behavioural Specialist – a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Licensed NLP Coach based in London’s Harley Street since 2004. She is the author of the best-selling “Stop Bedwetting in 7 days” book and video programme and “Words that Work” How to get Kids to Do Almost Anything”.
For more details see www.aliciaeaton.co.uk and http://www.success-4-kids.com