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For some children, the thought of an overnight sleepover can be the cause of so much anxiety, they avoid them altogether.

Give your child a strategy – a plan – and practise it at home before the sleepover.

Sleepovers and camps, which are important for a child’s social and emotional development, should be a fun and exciting time – even for children who still wet the bed.

Clinical psychologist Chris Hardwick, who has worked at Sydney’s Westmead Children’s Hospital with children and families affected by bed wetting, offers these two practical suggestions to help prepare at-risk children for overnight sleepovers:

1) Problem solve possible scenarios beforehand.

Talk and think through with your child all that could happen and problem solve what to do if the worst scenario takes place. Give your child a strategy – a plan – and practise it at home before the sleepover.

For example, will your child need a change of underpants, pyjamas or pull-ups?  Where is the best place to keep them, to get changed, and where can they hide or dispose of wet items?

When children have a well thought out plan, they will be much less anxious about sleeping over and more confident they will be able to manage.

2) Have a support person at the other end.

If there’s an adult at the other end that can be made aware of the situation, and the child is okay with their knowing, recruit that adult as a support person.

If the child knows there’s a trusted person like a teacher, an aunty or a friend’s mother to whom they can quietly go if they need to, that will make them feel less anxious.

The child may be fairly confident about coping, in which case a support person may not be necessary. However, if they’re unsure about handling certain scenarios, it’s best to recruit a support person.

Handy hints

  • Sleeping bags can be discreetly lined with bed pads, while pull-ups, zip-lock bags and spare pyjamas can be tucked in the bottom of the sleeping bag.
  • By setting an alarm clock earlier than others, your child can get up and dispose of, or pack away, any products.
  • Ensure your child has a torch or night light so they can go to the toilet one last time before falling asleep, particularly if the children stay awake and talk for a long time.
  • Ask your child to decline any hot chocolate drinks that are offered for supper.
  • Wipes are great for reducing body smells, and zip-lock bags are great for hiding odour.
  • Pack identical pairs of pyjamas.
  • Consider administering bed wetting medication for the duration of the sleepover.

Did you know?

  • More than one in five Australian children still wet the bed occasionally, and more than 100,000 children will wet the bed tonight.
  • Most children will be dry at night by school age.
  • Not all children “grow out” of bed wetting, and if your child is still wetting the bed at age 7, it’s important to seek professional help.
  • If your child has been dry at night, and suddenly starts bed wetting, seek professional help.

For confidential advice and support about your child’s bed wetting or any other continence issues, phone the National Continence Helpline (1800 33 00 66), which is staffed by continence nurse advisors from 8am to 8pm weekdays.

The Continence Foundation of Australia is the peak national organisation working to improve the quality of life of all Australians affected by incontinence. For more information, go to continence.org.au

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • Good tips.
    I’ve a 10 year old girl in care who still bedwets. When she was placed in our care 9 months ago she was still in pull ups during the night and despite that wet the bed. We’ve focused on drinking enough during the day, going on time to the toilet, exercises to improve the bladder brain connection, cutting down on chocolate (or other food/drinks containing caffeine) and fizzy drinks totally.
    Beside that we don’t make a big deal of it and also no big deal when she wets the bed, taking away the shame.
    She went on camp for the very first time during the holidays and was 3 out of 4 nights dry, which I found really good. I notified the staff before hand and they helped her clean the bed. Camp experience increased her confidence.

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  • My middle child was a bed wetter and in her first year of school they decided to do an overnight trip where they were going to spend the night at a local aquarium. She was in a mixed Grade class and was in with her elder sister who was Grade 3 so they were both going. She decided that she wanted to go and she would give it a try. She came back from her night away so excited to inform me that she hadnt wet and that was it…..from then on no more wet beds.

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  • I didn’t go on sleepovers as a child, my first school camp was at age 12 and that was a huge stress due to my bed wetting problem. It wasn’t til around the age of 12 I started to get it under control. Not a good thing to suffer

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  • Great tips, and some really good ideas!

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  • If the child wants to come home then arrange for them to be picked up. They dont have to sleep.

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  • My 5 year old son will go months without wetting then all of a sudden have several nights in a row where he wets – I don’t know why but I have put it down to being overtired sometimes and therefore just can’t wake himself up to go… now we are just more mindful about making him go before bed and waking him up before we go to bed if we think he will struggle. its tough but they get there eventually…. now to toilet train my almost 3 year old…. arghhh


    • lol yeah make sure they pee before getting in bed

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  • Thank you for sharing- great read, great advice.

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  • it is really great to read

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  • One of my boys took quite a while to toilet train at nights and they do become quite self conscience about it. Thanks for the hints

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  • sounds awesome and looks great

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  • I occasionally wet the bed until I was 9 (when my period started)! Then it just stopped. I had a lot of kidney infections as a child, which also seemed to stop once menstruation started.

    My children haven’t ever had an issue with bed wetting, they have been dry since they were 4 yrs of age.

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  • Yes this is a tricky one. My son is 8 and still wets the bed. We have just had an appt. with the bedwetting clinic. But sleepovers are not my son’s thing so at least we don’t have to worry about that.

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  • A couple of weeks ago I was in a dark period in my life, the man I love had gone off with someone else because i wet in bed alot , that was when I was told about this Dr Lababa. Well he told me he could see that we would get back together that gave me hope, and he was right, because this week we have moved in with each other and i nolonger wet in bed. A big thank you Dr Lababa. If you are in need of an angel please get in touch with my Dr Lababa via email: lababasolutiontemple@gmail.com

    Reply

  • Great tips. A practice run is a great idea.

    Reply

  • lordy, my son still wet at 13… was challenging for him

    Reply

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