‘My five-year-old daughter is still not dry at night’

Ask the Expert: Bedwetting is usually caused by a physical problem such as constipation

Bedwetting is not something children are in control of and it is never their fault. Photograph: iStock

Bedwetting is not something children are in control of and it is never their fault. Photograph: iStock

 
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Question: My daughter has just recently turned five and is still not dry at night time. She was potty trained two years ago and hardly ever has accidents during the day. Her night-time pants are heavy and wet in the mornings. I’m afraid to just go for it and leave her night-time pants off as she’ll get distressed if she wakes up in a very wet bed.

Is this something I need to talk to a doctor about?

Answer: Bedwetting at night is a common problem in young children and many simply don’t “grow out of it”; it is usually caused by a physical problem such as constipation.

Ask the Expert: Send your questions to John Sharry

While it might be tempting to continue to use night-time pants, you will not know if your child is truly bedwetting until you take a break from these. How about removing them for a week?

Remember, bedwetting is not something children are in control of and it is never their fault, so be very reassuring and supportive with your child when it does happen. There are excellent resources on overcoming bedwetting from the UK charity, eric (a children’s bowel and bladder charity), including books to read with children and also a telephone helpline that you can contact.

I also recommend the work of Dr Steve Hodges who advises early intervention to address the constipation that he argues underpins bedwetting in most situations.

John Sharry is a founder of the Parents Plus Charity and an adjunct professor at the UCD School of Psychology. He is delivering a series of free parenting workshops on Supporting children and teenagers mental health during the Covid crisis. See solutiontalk.ie for details