Children's Health: Beating the Bed-wetting Blues (cont.)
Try either and let me know how it goes.
If a child is 6, we know that still about 10% or so of them are not dry at night normally. The question is if you should do anything about it. Since it's not a medical or psychological problem you don't really have to unless you want to. Why would you want to? If the child is embarrassed and is looking for help with it -- and most 6-year-olds frankly are not that motivated yet -- or if it's interrupting the family routine or causing bad relationships within the family to such an extent that you want to see if you can get rid of it so everybody can sleep better at night -- those are the reasons to treat it.
On the other hand, if you don't mind it that much and you've come to terms with it and your child is OK with it -- it's perfectly acceptable just to let it go and wait for it to go away on its own. If it doesn't in the next year or two and things change and you want to try some of the treatments then, you can.
It's really a parents' choice and child's choice about when and if to deal with nighttime bed-wetting.
If you look at the research that has been done on bed-wetting, there's no question that the most effective treatments are the alarms -- they are effective in about three-quarters of children. The major advantage is that once a child is somehow trained by the alarm, the recurrence of bed-wetting is much lower than any other technique. If you stop the alarm, the odds are good that the child will not relapse and will continue to stay dry.
So, the nighttime alarm is probably the best way to go if you really want to attack nighttime bed-wetting in a successful way, but it does require your child's cooperation. I should also say your child should know the alarm is not a punishment but a reminder to wake him or her up at night to help him or her to be dry. It also requires some family intervention initially of everybody getting up with the child when the alarm first goes off and taking the child to the bathroom. It requires some work and may take even months to be successful in the three-quarters of cases that it works but it is by far the best treatment for nighttime bed-wetting that we have.
We don't really understand why they work. Somehow they seem to train the sleeping brain to be more aroused, awake and alert, and to avoid urinating when the urge exists. When they work, some children are then able to sleep through the night completely without even waking up and staying dry. Others wake up when they feel the urge to pee and go to the bathroom.
As I said though, in about a quarter of the cases, the alarms may not work so well. In those cases if you're really stuck and your child is getting older, sometimes a combination of the alarm and DDAVP will work more effectively than either one alone.
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