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KFB Health Talk: How to stop your child from bedwetting

For the Newbies,  KFB ‘Know Your Health’ is a weekly column (Tuesdays)
where we discuss health issues. Staying healthy is the key to living
well.
Finding out how healthy you are is the first step to getting healthier and that’s basically what we shall be handling here…make some noise people!
Does
your six-year-old child still  bed wet and you resort to calling him
names or stigmatising him in a bid to ensure he stops? Are you worried
that his bedwetting habit is because he plays too much during the day
and as such, finding it difficult waking up at night to go and pass out
urine?

Well, punishing or name calling for bedwetting would not solve the
problem. Researchers say punishing children in actual fact may make the
problem worse.

Night-time bedwetting, or “nocturnal enuresis,” affects large
percentage of young children and paediatricians say that it is three
times more common in boys than girls. It is a common practice for many
parents to humiliate and punish young children for bedwetting.

In a new study, the researchers found that children who were punished
for wetting the bed at night had a higher tendency of becoming
depressed and had worse overall quality of life compared to bed-wetters
who were not punished.

The study involved 65 children aged seven to 13 years old that wet
their beds, and 40 healthy children without a bedwetting problem as a
comparison group. The children with bedwetting problems were divided
into two groups, those who were punished for bedwetting and those who
were not.

They researchers in their report published in the journal, Child
Abuse and Neglect, stated that on the average, children who were
punished for bedwetting at night wet their beds more often than the
children who were not punished. The punished children also showed
symptoms of depression that were more severe than the other two groups
of children.

Moreover, the effect was worst when parents physically punished their
children. In addition, the more often they punished their children, the
more likely the children were to be depressed and had reduced quality
of life scores.

Professor Olanrewaju Adedoyin, a consultant paediatrician, University
of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), corroborated that punishing a child
that bedwets in any way had not been effective in stopping it.

The expert, who indicated that several factors, including infections
such as urinary tract infection, type 1 diabetes and birth defects,
account for young children bedwetting, stated that it is a problem that
runs in some families,too.

“Many parents of children that bed wet had also done the same when
they were young children, too. In addition, it may be an emotional
response to family issues such as divorce, conflicts and separation from
the parent and a changed of environment.”

Professor Adedoyin, while declaring that parents could only express
concern that a young child bed wets after the age of four, whether when
sleeping at night or during the day time, stated that it was however
terrible for such children to be punished when it happens.

“Punishment does not work; it could, in fact, worsen the problem. It
also erodes the child’s confidence; make the child becomes timid and
withdrawn, and this subsequently affecting other aspects of his life
such as his educational progress and social interactions.”

However, he suggested that asking that the child empties his urinary
bladder before going to bed; reduction of fluid intake towards bed time;
promising the child incentives on the day he does not bed wet and so
on, could help a little in overcoming the problem.

While bedwetting problems arising from birth defect or urinary tract
infection may require medical treatment before it could stop, he added
that in some instance, drugs to help control bedwetting may sometimes be
prescribed for night time use in some cases.

Dr Jibril Abdulmalik, a child psychiatrist, University College
Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, described children as being very sensitive and
emotional and as such, punishing them for bedwetting was tantamount to
an emotional torture.

Aside from the meted punishment making such young children to feel
miserable, Dr Abdulmalik stated that it could breed resentment among
siblings when comparisons were made.
He explained also that some took after their fathers in the act of
bedwetting, adding that the problem was hereditary in some situations.

“It may be hereditary, especially when the father also bedwetted for
long as a child. The reason why this may occur is that the age at which
the muscle of the splinter that controls the urinary bladder becomes
efficient is delayed. That delay maturity is hereditary. So, beating or
punishing such children, in anyway, will not make this splinter to
mature overnight.”

Dr Abdulmalik added that where medications were prescribed, this was
to help the splinter not to contract throughout the night, thus along
with other measures, preventing bedwetting.

He declared: “it is important that parents and care givers know that
it is not the child’s fault; that what the child needs is understanding,
help as well as support rather than punishment to stop bedwetting.
“Bedwetting is not harmful other than the need to change the bed
sheets in the morning. It is not dangerous, but more importantly, the
attitude should not be one of discrimination and making fun but one of
understanding, empathy and support.”

Culled from Tribune newspaper

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