Bedwetter at Five

Submitted by PeterAKenny on February 9, 2021

“We’ve had our five-year-old foster son for over a year now and we were planning to adopt him. All was well until two months ago when he began to wet the bed nightly. Trying to be understanding, we began by waking him regularly to use the bathroom. Lately we have started to withhold sweets and privileges. Nothing seems to work.”

Don’t take it personally. If all else was going well, he may be unconsciously testing out your love, asking if this will be like the other homes he was in. You can pass that test by treating his enuresis as a common problem that he needs to handle himself. Here is a simple 1-2-3 approach that may help.

First, get a plastic sheet to protect your mattress. Then have him strip the wet bed and remake it each morning with a dry sheet. Have him place the wet sheet in a laundry basket to be washed when you have a load ready.

Second, treat his problem matter-of-factly. No lecturing. You don’t want to give attention to behavior you are trying to be rid of. Even negative attention, like lectures and punishment, can be rewarding to undesirable behavior.

Third, change your emphasis. Instead of paying attention to his bedwetting, focus on his acceptable behavior: dry nights. Reward each night that he stays dry with a small but immediate positive response. Perhaps a food treat.

Hugs. High fives all around.

Good luck.

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