Dr Catherine
< Back to Expert Answers
8-15 years

Hi Mel, bedwetting can be very distressing and challenging to manage, particularly when there appears to be no logical explanation for why it is occurring. Unlike toilet training, which is conscious and deliberate, nighttime bladder control is more dependent on maturation of children’s nervous systems and bladder so it is much more challenging to train a child a night. Training at night usually involves the use of a conditioning alarm (also commonly referred to as a bedwetting alarm), this works by helping your son learn to recognise the need to pass urine and either wake-up and go to the toilet or learn to hold on until morning. This differs from normal alarms that are not linked in anyway with children’s behavior. The conditioning approach is based on the theory that by repetitively waking a child at the time of urination the child becomes conditioned into recognising that urination is about to occur. This method requires a great deal of commitment on behalf of the family, as parents need to take initial responsibility in ensuring their child wakes in response to the alarm. Treatment can take up to 6 months, with about a third of children experiencing relapse. If this occurs you need to reintroduce the alarm, with most children being treated in a much shorter period of time. Before introducing this I would recommend having your son fully assessed by his GP just to ensure there is no underlying medical cause to his bedwetting. You could also use this opportunity to look at the possibility of introducing medication. The nasal spray medication is like a synthetic version of ADH (antidiuretic hormone), which is designed to inhibit the amount of urine produced by the kidneys overnight. While some children do stop wetting the bed after its use, a common problem with this form of treatment is that once children stop the medication the bedwetting often resumes, it can be however very useful in the short-term and may be particularly suited to your son. All the best! Regards, Dr Cathrine