What are the causes of bedwetting?

KEVIN [Dr. Kevin Leman]: The truth is, nobody knows the exact cause or causes. We do know that statistics show that bed wetting often runs in the family. Seventy-five percent of the kids who wet the bed have a close biological relative who bed wets or has in the past. But it's a big mystery as to why. All we can come up with are “predisposing factors.” For example, sometimes slower muscle or neurological development can make bladder control more difficult for some kids. In other cases, some kids just have too small a bladder to hold a whole night's quantity of urine. Another factor may be delayed or lax potty training.

But maybe the biggest one of all is psychological stress. For example, a child may be hospitalized between the ages of two and four and this can cause bed wetting later. Sometimes when a child enters school he starts wetting the bed. Another common cause of stress is when a new baby brother or sister arrives to take the attention off the firstborn.

RANDY [Randy Carlson]: One of the things we hear from many parents is that kids who wet the bed are often deep sleepers. Parents can't even wake them up through the night to go to the bathroom because they're just too far gone into dreamland.

KEVIN: That's another thing—dreams. Sometimes a kid may wet the bed during his rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep because he's dreaming he's going to the bathroom and that's exactly what happens - in his bed! But, Randy, I'm wondering if, in some cases, the child isn't subconsciously depending on his parents instead of assuming personal responsibility for controlling his bladder?

You see, I'm from the old school, and I believe parents should keep the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the child as much as possible. I don't mean ridicule him or pressure him, but simply leave it with him. It's his problem. He's the one who has to learn - and he will learn. As the statistics point out, ninety-nine out of a hundred stop by the time they are old enough to get married. Children do learn to control their bladders.

Author: excerpt from Parent Talk by Dr. Kevin Leman and Randy Carlson of Family Life Communications

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