Physicians stress that bed wetting is not the child’s fault. Medical studies show the psychological stresses of bedwetting are far more impactful than physical concerns. Self-esteem can be a major concern for children. As stated in a study by the University of Florida, “It is often the child’s and family member’s reaction to bedwetting that determines whether it is a problem or not.”
There is ongoing debate as to whether or not bedwetting causes low self-esteem. But, multiple cases have shown improved self-esteem coincides with control of the condition. A study was conducted where children were asked to rank stressful life events. The children ranked bedwetting as the third most stressful event, behind only parental divorce and parental fighting. The affected children face several problems. They worry about punishment from caregivers and ridicule from siblings. They feel ashamed from wearing night time pull-ups. In addition, many children will feel an intense fear that friends will learn their “secret”.
It has been shown that behavioral problems are more common for children who wet the bed. Children with developmental issues often have behavioral problems and bedwetting that are a part of or caused by the developmental problems. Children without developmental problems can have behavioral concerns as a result of the stress and lack of self-esteem from wetting. Only on extremely rare occasions will a child wet the bed intentionally as a form of acting out.
Punishment for wetting the bed will only cause the situation to worsen. Punishment or shaming will cause a loss of self-confidence or feelings of shame that can effectively make the bedwetting incidents increase. Shared experiences from a parent who also suffered from bedwetting as a child have been shown to help a child feel less alone in their situation. It can also show them that they will not wet the bed forever as they have the parent to look to as an example.