Back in the day I couldn’t wait for the school holidays to arrive. My friends and I would be planning sleepovers and midnight feasts well in advance and there were school camps we would go on or, sometimes, a family holiday to visit relatives or family friends. In short school holidays were the highlight of the year.
Fast forward decades to my own children and school holidays took on a whole new complexion…with bedwetters in tow. Not their fault but it did put a damper on the away from home activities and meant that they could not easily go on sleepovers like their dry siblings. School camps needed to be managed with absolute discretion and I always ended up being a volunteer parent to ensure that they could participate without being humiliated – and believe me kids know how to shame their peers, sometimes with devastating effect to self-esteem!
So, what to do?
Here is some advice from Dr Baruch Kushnir, renowned clinical psychologist and author of the 'The Magic Bowl – Potty training made easy' who manages 20 clinics in Israel, specializing in the treatment of bedwetting, soiling and constipation using bedwetting alarms.
"Most children stop bedwetting on a natural basis between the ages of one and three. This is an indication that the human body is capable of bladder control during sleep early. I therefore recommend alarm treatment as early as possible to avoid all implications of prolonged bedwetting, in spite of the relative comfort of diapers for children and their ease of use.
If your child is ready and wants to stop their bedwetting so they can participate fully in the joys of away-from-home life, a bedwetting alarm will help them recognise and respond to the feeling of a full bladder during sleep.
School holidays at home can be an ideal time to start using a bedwetting alarm when the daily routines are more relaxed. However, the most important thing is to start as soon as the child is ready, whatever time of year.
But what happens if your child hasn’t undergone bedwetting training and the holidays arrive, along with an important away-from-home activity e.g. school camp?
Short term solutions could include:
- Pull-ups under the pyjamas…but the down side is discovery by your child’s peers and shame and embarrassment for your child.
- Children’s washable continence underwear under the pyjamas – these are probably more discrete and, unlike pull-ups, they are re-usable…but the downside is being able to store wet pants for the duration of the camp without smell being a problem and giveaway.
- Short term use of drugs such as nasal desmopressin (not indicated for use in some countries like Canada). These need to be prescribed by your doctor, also these medications work with only 60% of children so it is important to try them at home for about a week before counting on them in an away-from-home situation. The downside of taking desmopressin is unlikely but severe side effects which mean that the child has to be monitored quite closely and consumption of fluids prior to bedtime has to be restricted.
- Use of a vibrating watch programmed to activate at set times during the night to remind the child to get up and go to the toilet. The only downsides are that the child may not need to go to the toilet when the watch activates and the child could sleep through the vibration if they are overtired having stayed up late talking with roommates.
- Limiting fluid intake and urinating a number of times before bed time.
- Setting the alarm of the mobile phone to wake up during the night to go to the toilet and using the help of a volunteer parent.
Long term, bedwetting alarms have the highest success rate in treating bedwetting compared to other treatments. Long-term success rates range from 70-90% compared to approximately 25% for Behavioural Therapy and 60% for Drug Therapy (however, once medication is ceased relapses occur in 59-100% of cases). Bedwetting alarms are also cost effective compared to the long term use of disposable diapers or pull-ups with their associated environmental costs to landfills."
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