Boy vs Girl Bedwetters – Which is more common?
Prior to age 13, boys wet the bed twice as often as girls. By the time adolescence comes around, these numbers equal out. This may be due to the fact that boys’ bodies develop at a slower rate (during the early years the muscles of the bladder for a 5 year old girl are likely to be stronger than the equivalent 5 year old boy). However, no one single reason has been identified for the prevalence of enuresis among boys in comparison to girls. Interestingly, girls are more likely than boys to have other bladder problems.
The idea that male equals macho and that boys are supposed to be strong may lead parents to believe that bedwetting is somehow more abnormal or shameful for their son than their daughter. In reality, boys are more likely to wet the bed than girls (some studies report that male incidents of bedwetting are twice as likely than female incidents), and they require just as much care and support as their female peers. Sometimes young boys will try to appear “strong” in the face of bedwetting and will appear to want no assistance from their parents, this attitude is quite natural but as a parent, it’s important we let them know that it’s ok to ask for help.
Your son, like most young boys, will probably think he is the “man of the house”, so a bedwetting incident will no doubt come as quite a shock! No matter how old a child is they always consider themselves to be very old, because last year they were a whole year younger. Being a “big kid” at 4 or 5 years is often reaffirmed by friends and family, so it’s easy to see how losing control and suffering a bedwetting episode could be seen as a failure of a child to act their age. This is, of course, not the case and bedwetting happens to children of all ages.
One great move that parents can make, in addition to being understanding in general and assuring the child that bedwetting is not his fault, is to tell your little one about grownups who faced the same problem when they were little like a dad or close uncle. This kind of thing really does help and greatly lessens a boy’s feeling of alienation when confronted with this subject. Don’t forget that waking up wet is a very frightening experience. Getting them out of their damp pyjamas and into something warm and dry should be your first priority.
Another big difference between boys and girls when it comes to bedwetting are the different rituals they have before bedtime. Girls tend to have a fairly standard routine which they rarely differ from while boys bedtime rituals are often more random and haphazard (much like boys themselves at that age). Studies have shown that children who have a more stabile bedtime ritual are less likely to experience bedwetting. As a result of this you should try to keep your young son’s bedtime ritual as consistent as possible.
Tips to manage bedwetting in boys
- Together with your son come up with a “winding down rhythm” that will help you both in preparing for a good night’s sleep
- Make smart choices regarding how you spend your evening – encourage your kids to relax and try to limit scary TV or video games after dinner
- Avoid constipation, which can lead to pressure on the bladder. Constipation is more common in boys, so try to encourage a high fibre diet
- Boys with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are more likely to experience bedwetting and statistically, boys are more likely to suffer from ADHD than girls. If you do see bedwetting in combination with some common symptoms of ADHD, it’s worth discussing the issue with your physician
Find out all the great sleepover tips for bedwetting boys.
Parents know that girls and boys are different in lots of ways. What many parents don’t realise is that bedwetting can be more emotionally upsetting for a girl at a younger age than it is for a boy. Dr. F.C. Verhulst, a noted psychiatrist and researcher, made the case some years ago to change the diagnostic criteria of bedwetting treatment to age 5 for girls and age 8 for boys because he thought the epidemiology (the branch of medicine that deals with the study of the causes, distribution, and control of disease in populations) was so different between the two sexes. In other words, more uncommon for your daughter to wet the bed at age 5 than it is for your son.
Girls, especially older girls, are also more likely to try to fix the problem themselves as the emotional sensitivity can lead to embarrassment even from you as the parent. If you find your daughter has been wetting the bed but didn’t want to get help from you, it might be an idea to leave some towels and a spare set of pyjamas somewhere within reach for future cases while letting her know that you are here to help if she needs you.
If your little girl is obviously distraught about her bedwetting, then she’s also likely to be driven to change. This is important because dealing with bedwetting requires a lot of assistance on the part of the child and as we all know getting a child’s help is much easier said than done.
One reason bedwetting can become a more serious problem for girls, is that they often start having sleepovers at quite a young age. Girls tend to enjoy social time with friends more than boys and if your daughter knows she has a problem with bedwetting she might avoid sleepovers because she is worried about embarrassing herself. One solution for this scenario is for you, as the parent, to get involved and have a chat with the parents of the child having the sleepover, letting them know that there may just be a bedwetting incident. If this is done subtly, the possibility of embarrassment in front of her peers, may just be avoided.
One problem girls may face that boys don’t is the problem of acquiring a urinary tract infection. UTIs are widespread in girls with nocturnal enuresis because the wetness doesn’t wake them up and they lie in their urine all night.
Tips to manage bedwetting in girls
- Listen to your daughter. If she’s distressed about bedwetting and your doctor doesn’t take it seriously, consider consulting a psychologist or another medical professional who will
- Don’t reveal her bedwetting with her friends. Kids can be quite nasty with each other, particularly as they grow into adolescence, so keep it within the family if possible
- Don’t keep your daughter from sleepovers, movie nights or any other fun events. Rather, help her make a plan for sleepovers so she can discreetly change into a DryNites Pyjama Pants to manage her bedwetting while still having a ball
- If you can, talk to your little girl about her “waterworks”, make sure she comes to chat to you if it’s sore when she goes to the toilet
- Do not allow brothers and sisters to make fun of one another about bedwetting. To avoided sibling rivalry, you may want to give everyone treats for “good” behaviour if you’re rewarding one child for “good” bedwetting progress (you may even deserve a bit of treat yourself for all your bedwetting cleanup efforts!)
Find out all the great sleepover tips for bedwetting girls that the DryNites site has to offer.