Do rewards or punishment help to stop bedwetting?
Almost every kid will wet the bed at some stage. As a parent, the key to supporting your child through this sensitive time is to not make a big deal out of it.
Always try to keep positive and never punish your child for wetting the bed. It is a total myth that children wet the bed because they are naughty or lazy. Bedwetting is completely outside of their conscious control, so no amount of punishment is going to help them stop bedwetting and will only damage their confidence and self-esteem.
Equally, rewards need to be used wisely, if you decide to use them at all. Rewarding your child for staying dry at night will only set them up for disappointment if they fail to achieve something that they have no control over in the first place.
In most cases bedwetting is caused by a developmental delay that will naturally fix itself with the grace of time, so your consistent loving support will make for smooth sailing while this phase passes by.
Do rewards or punishment help?
It is highly unusual for children to be able to control their nighttime wetting in response to requests or external rewards, this is mostly due to the fact that nighttime wetting occurs outside children’s conscious control.
Children wet when they are asleep. Providing rewards or punishment to help you child to stop wetting is a little like offering a chronic snorer $20000 to stop snoring; they couldn’t do it no matter how badly they wanted the money!
Rewards can certainly be used to encourage positive behaviours such as going to the toilet just before bedtime, or getting up out of bed in the morning and disposing of their DryNites® when they wake.
Avoid the use of rewards as an incentive for staying dry as this only sets up your child for failure and can be potentially damaging to their self-esteem.
Do rewards systems help to stop bedwetting?
The short answer is no. While rewards systems can work well for day time toilet training, staying dry at night is a completely different ball game.
It is not unusual for children to continue to wet the bed at night after they have achieved day time dryness. This is because staying dry at night requires their body to have developed one or more of the following processes:
Without these natural physiological developments, no amount of rewards are going to help them to stop bedwetting, so rewarding dry nights will only set them up for disappointment and potentially impact on their self-esteem.
If rewards are something that you feel supports your child, we would encourage rewarding positive and responsible behaviours around their bedtime and early morning routine instead, like laying out their spare pair of pyjamas in the evening, setting their bedwetting alarm or disposing of their DryNites in the morning.
Your child might like to help design a reward chart, one where they accumulate points that they can cash-in for a bigger treat. Whether you choose to use a rewards system or not, keeping the subject of bedwetting light and not making a big deal out of it will support your child to remain happy and confident throughout this time.
Why punishment doesn’t work
A bedwetting phase is a normal, yet very delicate time for a child. Depending on their age they may experience a loss of confidence, anxiety, or feelings of shame, embarrassment and confusion.
Your love and reassurance is essential to ensuring their emotional wellbeing while their body naturally develops the ability to stay dry at night.
We understand that interrupted sleep for nights in a row can make it a challenging time for parents, but it is important to remember that bedwetting is completely out of your child’s control. Because of this, no amount of discipline or punishment is going to help your child stop bedwetting, and will only increase their stress and anxiety levels (which can contribute to the bedwetting continuing).
Depending on your child’s age, developing their own independence during their bedwetting phase can be very empowering. Giving your child the responsibility of changing their own wet pyjamas or stripping the sheets can be very supportive, so long as it isn’t treated as a punishment for wetting the bed.
What can you do to encourage nighttime bladder control?
Make sure your child isn’t over-tired when you put them to sleep, as this will make it harder for them to wake up in response to a full bladder.