Did you know that mothers of bedwetting children have a higher rate of anxiety and depression than mothers of non-enuretic children?
They also test higher in screening tests for other psychiatric symptoms, both reactive to their child’s bedwetting as well as pre-existing factors (1). Holy moly!
So, if you’re a mum reading this and have just screamed ‘THIS IS ME!’ then it’s time to air out your dirty laundry!
I’m hoping this article will make you feel better knowing that you’re not going crazy, these stressful feelings are normal, and you are doing your absolute best at being mum to your child.
As parents, we all know the effects bedwetting can have on a child’s quality of life and self-esteem. It can affect them socially, mentally and physically and increases the older they get and the more severe the enuresis. Children rely on their parents to be supportive and provide reassurance to their child. We also encourage them in choosing to become dry, help them feel good about themselves and moreover, try and remain positive. Phew!
But what about YOU?
Has anyone asked YOU how you’re feeling about your child’s bedwetting?
According to a 2014 case-control study on the ‘effects of nocturnal enuresis on parents of affected children’, the parents of children with nocturnal enuresis seem to experience increased levels of anxiety. Also, the overall quality of their marital relationship and their comfort as a family may also be negatively affected by having a child with enuresis. (2).
As mothers, it’s our innate behaviour to put our children’s needs first before our own. We all want the very best for our children, and anything that may cause our child to feel upset, shamed or indifferent, put simply - breaks our hearts.
We are their rock and we put so much pressure on ourselves to remain strong in front of our children and not crumble.
When I came across these study findings, as alarming as it sounds, the results didn’t surprise me. As a mum to two past bedwetters, I know all too well the mixture of feelings that a mother can experience during their child’s bedwetting ordeal.
Then at the same time we need to demonstrate patience, positivity, encouragement, resilience, strength, tact and perseverance.
It’s no wonder we’re falling into an anxiety induced heap!
On top of the mental effects a mother may go through while having a child that wets their bed, there are other issues that can help escalate a mother’s anxiety, some of which are out of our control. These issues can be sleep disruption and deprivation, increased laundry workload and costs associated with buying pullups or bedwetting products.
What we believe in or how we react to our child’s bedwetting can also add fuel to the fire. For example, it is easy for parents to underestimate enuresis and some believe their child’s bedwetting is caused by laziness, attention seeking, rebellion or behavioural problems. This can bring about feelings of anger, frustration, embarrassment and blame in the mother towards her child.
In a 2017 study on ‘parental perception for primary nocturnal enuresis’ (3), it was found that nearly half the parents who participated reacted angrily to children with nocturnal enuresis. Yet only one third of the parents had an encouraging attitude towards their children.
Wow, that really surprised me!
Getting angry each time our child wets their bed certainly wouldn’t help our anxiety levels! It is important to understand that children can’t control their bedwetting and if they had a choice, I’m sure they’d choose to be dry at night.
Therefore, our attitude is very important to their success.
According to an article written by Clinical Psychologist Dr David J. Ley (4), every parent he sees that struggles with their child’s bedwetting, has the fear that there is something terribly wrong with their child. Yet they have no idea how many of their friends’ children or families are also struggling with this.
Bedwetting is not often talked about because of the negative feelings surrounding it. According to Dr David Ley, many parents feel guilty and embarrassed about it, worry that it happens because they’re bad parents or blame the child as though it is intentional. All these feelings can contribute to higher levels of anxiety and having a negative impact on the whole family.
So, in order to reduce our anxiety associated with our child’s bedwetting, it’s HOW we react to the issue that is the key. It is normal for you to sometimes feel tense, cranky, tired and frustrated. You may even feel at a loss and not sure what else to do.
So, I’ve put together ten tips that may help mothers cope with your child’s bedwetting and make it less stressful:
- Acknowledge your child has a bedwetting problem and accept it.
- Talk to your child about what they think about their bedwetting and how they feel. Open communication and gaining their cooperation are essential for success.
- Purchase a bedwetting alarm that comes with support and motivates the child. The Parenting Garden Bedwetting Alarm Success Program has been designed to keep children motivated and excited and includes personal support throughout, at no extra cost!
- Join a supportive Facebook group on the topic where parents can provide support, ask questions and feel less lonely in this journey. The Parenting Garden Bedwetting Alarm Success Program includes a private Facebook group and is a valuable tool to ease worry and help mums feel ‘connected’ and supported.
- Don’t try to fix the bedwetting if other stressful situations are happening in your household. It’s okay to take a break and resume when it’s less stressful.
- Don’t take all the responsibility! Allow your child to take on the responsibility for becoming dry and reassure your child that you are here to help and support them.
- Remain as calm and composed as possible when your child wets the bed.
- Involve your child in the clean-up process. For example, they can help remake their bed or put their wet pyjamas in the laundry basket.
- Make the clean-up process easier for yourself by investing in waterproof bed covers such as the My Bed e Dry waterproof bed pad sets for that 10 second bed-change through the night.
- If you are concerned, visit your GP who will check your child for any physical causes.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful and has provided you with some reassurance about how you’re feeling whilst helping your child with their bedwetting.
Most importantly, if your anxiety or mental health is becoming too much for you to handle, please take time out for yourself and visit your health professional.
Durmaz O, Kemer S, Mutluer T, Bütün E. Psychiatric dimensions in mothers of children with primary nocturnal enuresis: A controlled study. Journal of Pediatric Urology. 2017;13(1):62.e1-62.e6.
Tanrıverdi MH, Palancı Y, Yılmaz A, Penbegül N, Bez Y, Dağgülli M. Efects of enuresis nocturna on parents of affected children: case-control study. Pediatr Int. 2014;56(2):254–7
Tai TT, Tai BT, Chang Y-J, Huang K-H. Parental perception and factors associated with treatment strategies for primary nocturnal enuresis. J Pediatr Urol. 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpurol.2016.12.025.
David J. Ley Ph.D. Psychologytoday.com 2016 https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/women-who-stray/201601/practical-advice-parents-dealing-bedwetting