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Bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis

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Bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis

At five years old, your toddler still wets his sheets? Don’t worry; the nocturnal accidents disappear by themselves in the majority of the cases: definition, causes, and treatments of the enuresis. We’ll tell you everything.

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Tired of being woken up every night by a wet toddler? A little patience, all children end up being potty trained, but each at their own pace! While some children go without nappies during the day and night from the age of 3, others will not be potty trained before the age of 4 or 5.

What is nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting)?

What is nocturnal enuresis? Nocturnal enuresis (or “bedwetting”) is a condition characterized by the occurrence of involuntary and unconscious urination during sleep in children over five years old.

What are the physiological causes of bedwetting?

At the age of 3, the bladder is often too small to hold a whole night’s pee. However, the child does not always have the necessary neurological maturity to react when he is sound asleep. That’s why little accidents happen at night. Over time, the bladder muscles mature, and the child can control himself. If months go by without any improvement, the pediatrician will check that it is not a medical problem.

What are the psychological causes of bedwetting?

Otherwise, the psychological causes can be multiple: he feels still baby, has a little fear of growing up. During the day, he makes efforts to progress in all the fields, and at night, he slackens: it is normal. Bedwetting can also be his way of waking up to escape a nightmare or to make his mother leave the marital bed (Oedipus obliges). Repeated accidents, especially after a period of “dry” nights, can signal that something is disturbing him: the arrival of a little brother, moving house, parental disputes, problems at school.

Enuresis, a common disorder

Potty training comes naturally, but unfortunately for parents, it is impossible to know when! At the age of 5, about 10% of toddlers still wet the bed. This disorder, called enuresis, continues for a small number of them until adolescence. Fortunately, there are solutions to get rid of it.

What are the psychological consequences of enuresis?

The psychological consequences of bedwetting can be significant when it causes emotional wounds and moral distress to the child who suffers from it. Enuresis is all the more difficult to live with because of the anxiety and uneasiness involved.

Bedwetting: reassure him!

Of course, you would like your little one to stop wetting the bed quickly. But you should know that if you try to rush your child into potty training, you run the risk of making him tense up and getting the opposite effect. The keyword is patience! Is he taking too long to potty train? Don’t overreact. Nearly 42% of children who still wet the bed at an advanced age are ashamed of it, and 31% want to keep these little “worries” secret. So there’s no need to add a layer by scolding him. Remember: bedwetting is an involuntary, unconscious, and uncontrolled disorder.

Bedwetting: how to remedy it?

Which treatment for enuresis? First:

Reassure him that it’s not his fault and that soon his bladder will be strong enough to hold his pee all night long;
Protect him from teasing, especially from his brothers and sisters;
– Encourage him to put his sheets and pajamas in the dirt when he wets them, to make him responsible;
Encourage him to accept invitations to sleep over at his friends‘ or cousins’ houses. Encourage him to accept invitations to sleep over at his friends’ or cousins’ houses. Slip a discreet nightgown into his bag to give him confidence.

The right reflexes against nocturnal enuresis

– Encourage your child to go to the toilet as soon as the urge arises during the day;
– Teach him to take his time in the toilet, in other words, without pushing and until the last drop!
– Encourage your child to drink enough during the day to avoid excessive drinking in the evening;
– Avoid giving him sugary drinks or sodas after 5 pm: they can irritate the bladder and encourage bedwetting;
– Make sure your child goes to the bathroom before going to bed;
– Make sure he can reach the toilet safely at night.

Bedwetting: when should you seek help?

The child masters night-time cleanliness around the age of 3-4 years. Up to the age of 7, they may experience “accidents,” occasional bedwetting that is not alarming. We only talk about enuresis from the age of 5, when the child wets the bed several times a week.

Enuresis: who to consult?

It is then necessary to consult the pediatrician or the family doctor to establish a diagnosis (physiological causes are not excluded) and direct the child to another specialist (child psychiatrist or psychologist) if necessary. In some cases, for children over six years of age, he may prescribe medical treatment. These are not necessarily effective and sometimes have side effects.

Bedwetting: a session with a psychologist

“We help him to free himself from his fears, explain, psycho-corporal therapist because enuresis can be related to a mechanical or physiological problem, but also psychological. The arrival of a little brother or sister, a move, tensions at home, or any other situation giving the child a feeling of insecurity can generate a bodily reaction like enuresis, sometimes accompanied by a form of regression.”

Enuresis: A case study of consultation with the psycho-corporal therapist

During 15 minutes, F.’s mother explains the situation: F. is a sensitive little boy, reserved at school, who needs to be reassured at night. Since he started primary school, he has been suffering from enuresis after moving house and having a little brother.

The consultation then begins:

A-L.B.: Can you explain to me what happens to you in the evening and at night?

F.In the evening, when I go to sleep, I put on my diaper, my mom hugs me, I’m afraid I won’t wake up to go to the bathroom. And then it’s morning. I wake up all wet again. It isn’t very pleasant!

A.-L.B.: Oh yes, I understand! How do you feel about your little brother and your move?

F.F.: I think that my mother takes more care of my little brother, and it’s unfair! Besides, I don’t feel good in this house. I’m afraid to go to the toilet!

A.-L. B.: I’m going to tell you a story, which I’ll record for you too. You can listen to it at night before going to sleep, it will help you feel better: “It’s the story of a gardener who really loves his garden. He takes good care of his plants and adds new plants from time to time to embellish his garden. He has a plant that he loves very much and that needs special attention. So he waters it a little in the morning and a little in the evening and talks to it gently. Then he closes the hose tightly so that it stays closed all night long. And in the morning, he opens the hose again to water his plants and then closes it carefully. He pays attention to each of his plants to flourish and receive all the attention they need equally. Sometimes new plants need a little more attention, and the gardener reassures his particular plant of his affection. As a result, the garden looks great, each plant is blooming beautifully, and the watering system is fully functional!”

F.I like your story, especially when the gardener takes good care of his special plant and pays attention to its watering!

A.-L.B.: I’m glad you like the story! You can also activate your magic star, giving you the signal to go to the bathroom at night if you need to. Where is this star located?

F.In my belly, I think. Should I press it? A.-L. B.: Each star is activated differently; let’s see how yours is activated… By doing a little massage? Or a light pressure? Or by turning the key that strengthens its power! Now you are ready to grow and find your power!

Decoding the session

The magic story can be read every night, bringing to the unconscious elements that reassure the child on his place and the attention he needs and on the mechanical aspect and his capacity to manage his body. The activation of the stars is a form of anchoring in NLP, giving the child back his power because the stars are inside him. It is essential to play it down, trust your child, and trust yourself to get through this stage. And especially to reassure your child of his capacity to grow and to wake up at the right time.

Little tip: Bach flowers

To allow the child to overcome his fears, to believe in his ability and to take back his responsibility, to release this mechanism and to arrive at a new functioning, I suggest a mixture based on Mimulus / Willow / Crab Apple / Walnut / Larch – see with the pharmacist or the Bach Flower consultant.


Bed-wetting, also called nocturnal enuresis, isn’t a sign of toilet training gone bad. It’s often just a normal part of a child’s development.

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