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If your child wets the bed, overnight social activities, such as sleepaway camp or sleepovers, could cause anxiety. Keep in mind that bed-wetting is very common and something camps are used to dealing with. To help your child feel comfortable going to a sleepaway camp, here are eight strategies to try.
Also hear advice from a 12-year-old boy who only recently stopped wetting the bed.
1. Make sure that your child knows he's not the only one. Remind him there will be others at camp who wet the bed. It's normal for school-age kids to wet the bed and nothing to be ashamed of. Reassure your child by letting him know that one out of five 5-year-olds, one out of ten 7-year-olds, and one out of twenty 10-year-olds wet the bed, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
2. Team up. This won't be the first time counselors have cared for a child who may wet the bed. Talk to them ahead of time so they can help your child feel confident and supported while she’s at camp. For example, they can check on her before the other kids wake up to see if she needs any help.
3. Encourage daytime water breaks. Drinking water during the day will help your child feel good while he’s running around, but also help keep late-evening thirst in check. You could give him a special water bottle before he goes to camp to help remind him – and to let him know you trust him to take care of himself. It's easy for kids to forget to drink when they're busy having fun. (Read why restricting fluids doesn't help bed-wetting.)
4. Request bathroom breaks. The point of camp is to have fun and enjoy the activities – so your child might forget to stop and use the bathroom regularly. Enlist the counselors' help to remind her to go during the day and always at bedtime. Before your child goes away, you could also pick out something together, like a piece of jewelry or a watch that beeps every hour or two, to jog her memory.
5. Pack disposable underwear discreetly. Disposable underwear may be the best option for an extended stay away from home and should not be seen as a setback. You can tuck them at the bottom of his sleeping bag instead of in his luggage, so he can put them on easily without anyone noticing. Include zip-top plastic bags to make disposal easier.
6. Send spares. Pack extra pajamas plus zip-top plastic bags to put any wet clothes in.
7. Buy a waterproof liner for her sleeping bag. These are easier to wash and dry than the whole sleeping bag. Talk to the counselors about how she can get this done discreetly.
8. 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.