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Kids' Comer: Because nobody likes wet wet wet

A look of concentration like this can often mean only one thing. SXC

Wetting the bed is a common and difficult problem to deal with – but it is also one which is entirely natural

ONE topic that I find causes more distress than most among parents is the dreaded bedwetting. The medical name for the phenomenon is nocturnal enuresis and usually involves the child being unaware they have wet the bed while sleeping. This can happen occasionally or every night of the week and is most common with children under five years of age, although in extreme cases it can continue up until the age of eight. Most children will stop wetting the bed eventually so try not to panic and also bear in mind that a large percentage of children under three will struggle to stay dry at night. Bladder control is a difficult skill to master and this process can often take a while.

Wetting the bed usually occurs because a child’s bladder is unable to hold the amount of urine that they produce and a delay in the development of the aforementioned bladder control means they will rarely wake up when urinating. This will happen naturally, so there is no need to worry, it is just the speed at which this development takes place which can cause difficulty.

Another key factor in the likelihood of bedwetting is genetics, with the UK’s National Health Service saying the problem affects 15 percent of all children, 45 percent of children with one parent who also had the condition, and 75 percent of children with two parents who have had the condition. Other factors include stress, anxiety, constipation or urinary tract infection.

The most important piece of advice I can give you is that under no circumstances should you punish your child for bedwetting. As I explained above, it is not their fault and they usually have no control over it. If you do blame your child, you will not only make the condition worse, you could also have a negative effect on your child’s self-esteem. Here are some other quick tips on how to deal with bedwetting:

  • I reiterate, because so many parents get it wrong: You must realise that this is a common problem and children do not wet the bed to be naughty.
  • Don’t hide it or gloss over it in front of your child. A more positive step would be to reassure your little one and explain to them that it’s not their fault and many other children do it too.
  • You can buy waterproof bed sheets to make it easier when cleaning the bedding.
  • Consider investing in a device called an enuresis alarm, which senses the first traces of your child’s urine and alerts them to it. This will help to condition your child’s brain into registering the bladder’s need to go to the toilet.
  • It sounds like an obvious tip but many parents fail to realise it: Do not give your child too much water before bedtime.
  • It is worth mentioning that many children do suffer from a relapse a few months after they stop wetting the bed. This is common, so do not worry unduly.

It is certain that bedwetting can be a stressful time for both parents and children and it is unfortunate there is not more a parent or carer can do to help solve the problem, or at least speed up its resolution. The tips above will hold you in good stead but it is simply something that will eradicate itself naturally. All children will stop wetting the bed in time and often without treatment. Although if bedwetting persists after eight years of age, you may want to discuss it further with your doctor.

Gemma Jones has been working in childcare for nine years. She holds an NNEB diploma in nursery nursing and a BA in Early Childhood Studies and has worked as a nursery manager, nanny and childcare college lecturer. She currently works as a kindergarten teacher.

If you have any questions relating to childcare or development that you would like Gemma to answer, please email them to:



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