There are millions of abandoned children in this world: those harmed physically, others abused emotionally, and still others neglected financially. Many experience all three forms of abandonment. Even in this country, American society struggles to address needs of abused youth and certainly accommodate the costs of the cumulative damage as individuals reach adulthood.
The same is true with stray and neglected animals. Why do we disassociate between the two categories? We cast off human children just as easily as animals.
I hear grandmothers who call and to share their deep concern about their grandchildren - treated like abandoned kittens - who are being abused because of their nighttime bedwetting. They are years far beyond being "potty trained"- and otherwise free of diapers during daytime hours - which suggests they should be rid of nighttime accidents. Right? Wrong! How are their stories different from those of us worried about abused and abandoned animals?
So distinctly, I recall the Latina grandmother from Miami who called crying that her daughter was increasingly emotionally abusive to her 10-year old granddaughter about recurrent bedwetting, shouting at the child, locking her in her room, and restricting her from playing with friends as punishment. Could anything be done, she asked? Was my only advice to send to her to a social worker and report her daughter for child abuse?
Persistent bedwetting in the older child is exasperating for parents and grandparents, struggling to sleep at night in hopes of functioning at work the next day. They are angry over the fact their older children are leaving a bed linen mess in the morning, in a flood of tears as they head off to school, as they themselves ready for work. Many doctors just say, give it time. They will grow out of it. Right? Not necessarily.
But sometimes, in at least 10% of the population, these older children genuinely need clinical intervention and help. So do the parents.
Steps Parents Can Take To Help Children Feel Better About Themselves
There are a number of things parents can do to reduce the stress associated with nocturnal enuresis:
- Remind children that bedwetting is no one's fault.
- Let children know that lots of kids have the same problem.
- Do not punish or shame children for being wet at night.
- Make sure the child's siblings do not tease him about wetting the bed.
- Let children know if anyone in the family wet the bed growing up.
- Maintain a low-key attitude after wetting episodes.
- Reinforce any efforts the child makes to help with his wetting, e.g. stripping the bed or helping parents carry wet bedding to the laundry room.
- Praise the child for success in any of the following areas: waking up at night to urinate, having smaller wet spots, having a dry night.
Use Information That Children Understand