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If your child wets the bed, he may be reluctant to go to overnight social activities, such as sleepovers or sleepaway camp. Here are nine tips to make sleepovers as easy as possible for everyone.
Also hear advice from a 12-year-old boy who only recently stopped wetting the bed.
1. Talk before you RSVP. If your child is invited to a sleepover, listen carefully to any concerns she may have. While bed-wetting is nothing to be ashamed of, it is a very private problem. For some children, the idea that their friends may find out is so embarrassing that they would rather not take the risk of sleeping over.
2. Strategize together. Talk to your child about ways to manage bed-wetting while he is away from home and see if you can come up with a plan that feels comfortable for him. If you can't, don't push it. There will be plenty more opportunities when he may feel more able to manage.
3. Tell the host parents. Ask your child first and reassure her they won’t tell anyone. Explain that if they know, they can help if she does have a problem.
4. Offer disposable underwear. Using them for the odd night shouldn't be seen as a setback and will probably make him feel more confident. You can tuck them at the bottom of his sleeping bag, so he can put them on easily without anyone noticing. Alternatively, he can change in the bathroom for privacy. Include plastic bags for easier disposal.
5. Pack spares. Provide your child with an extra set of pajamas plus a zip-top plastic bag to put any wet clothes in.
6. Remind your child to go to the bathroom right before bed. In the fun and chaos of a sleepover, your child may forget her regular routine. To jog her memory, you could put a sticky note on her pajamas. Rather than writing, "Go to the bathroom," decide together on a funny drawing or saying.
7. Have a practice run at home. If your child hasn't been to a sleepover yet, consider hosting one in your home. That way he can have a go at managing his bed-wetting in a social environment with you on hand to help. As soon as he's done it once, he'll probably feel more confident.
8. Try a "half sleepover." Have your child stay at the party until bedtime and then pick her up. This strategy works for lots of kids – including those worry about bed-wetting, who have an early activity in the morning, or who just get too crabby the day after a sleepover because they don’t get enough sleep.
9. Consider medication. You can talk to your child's doctor to see if short-term medication might be an option. If it is, plan to do a trial run at home in case the doctor needs to tweak the dosage.
Remember that your child may not even wet the bed during his night away. The sleepover may involve more giggling and chatting than actual sleep. But it’s important to make sure that if he does wet the bed, he won’t feel ashamed or self-conscious.