If there’s one thing that causes parents of young children consternation, it’s bed wetting. I must have got my parents ticked a lot because they had to deal with my lapses for years! Did I do it on purpose? I wasn’t conscious enough in the middle of the night to have a meeting with myself and make an executive decision that it was time now to upset my Mom and Dad.

Getting mad at a child because they wet the bed only causes the child more anxiety and the problem could get even worse. It certainly doesn’t solve the problem. I found some research written by Dr. Howard J. Bennett, author of the book, Waking Up Dry: A Guide to help Children Overcome Bedwetting.

Dr. Bennett states that scolding kids can lead to lower self-esteem, make school a less-successful environment and cause the child to have difficulties making and keeping friends. He says. “Parents punish because they’re exasperated or they think the child does it on purpose or isn’t trying hard enough.” Here’s what Dr. Bennett suggests as a script next time this happens with your child:

Instead of “You’re too old to have accidents.”

Say “It looks like you peed. Let’s get you out of those pajamas and put new sheets on your bed.”

Rather than fueling your kid’s frustration or sense of failure, you’re showing her that cleanup is a team effort – and so is finding a way to stay dry at night. (Make sure you have a waterproof cover on the mattress)

Instead of “If you wet the bed again, we’re taking away video games and TV privileges.”

Say “If you are able to stay dry tonight, we can add a sticker to your chart.”

Docking privileges for peeing at night is akin to chastising a kid for sneezing. Rewards for staying dry, though, can help build confidence, especially for younger kids.

Instead of “Your brother wet the bed again!”

Say “Nothing’s wrong, sweetie. I’m just helping your brother make up his bed.”

Playing down the incident can quell sibling taunting – and won’t exacerbate your child’s embarrassment or shame. I remember the shame I felt. After much discussion with the Doctor he deduced that my parents were forcing me to eat everything on my plate and maybe my action was a sub-conscious rebellion. When my parents ceased that the bed-wetting stopped! What might be causing your child’s anxiety level to be so heightened?

Written by Brian Burgess, School Counselor, PPE, Nashville, TN.