Surviving Sleepovers With an Incontinent Child
Sleepovers – they are a rite of passage for children entering elementary school. But for some children, sleepovers can be a scary experience. Not because they are afraid of being away from Mom and Dad, but because they are afraid they will wet the bed.
For example, Paula's* son had trouble staying dry at night until he was 11, and he was nervous about having an accident when away from home. "Basically, he avoided sleepovers every chance he could. If he did go anywhere, he would force himself to stay awake at night," she says.
So what should you do when the slumber party invitation arrives? Talk to your child about the overnight outing and find out if he has any concerns. Once you know what your child is worried about, you can help him develop a plan to make the sleepover a success.
Below are questions that may come up in your conversation and tips to help you prepare your answers.
1. "No one else at the sleepover wets the bed but me!"
Maybe this statement is true, but according to GoodNites.com, two out of every 10 children ages 5 to 10 wet the bed, so there is a chance that your child has friends who also have trouble staying dry at night. Most children do not feel comfortable talking to their peers about bedwetting, so the topic rarely comes up.
Log on to the GoodNites® Underpants Web site at www.goodnites.com for more helpful information and statistics about bedwetting. Though your child may (or may not) be the only child who wets the bed at the slumber party, she can feel supported knowing that there are children all over the world managing bedwetting and surviving sleepovers.
2. "My friends will think I'm a baby because I wear disposable underpants!"
One of the best features about GoodNites® Underpants is that no one has to know that you are wearing them! The new trim fit GoodNites® Underpants are virtually invisible under PJs.
Ashley*, of Evanston, Ill., has a 6-year-old son who wets the bed. "Only one time did our son feel bad that he had absorbent undergarments on in front of others," she says. "We were at a party, and he changed into his pajamas there."
Her son was upset because he thought everyone knew about his disposable underpants. But Ashley explained to him that no one knew he had them on, and that he just looked like he was wearing his pajamas. "Since then, he has had many friends and cousins spend the night and is never embarrassed about it," Ashley says. She adds that he happily spends the night with friends with no embarrassment about his undergarments.
Grace*, whose [story] was featured in our last newsletter, has a 12-year-old son who also wears absorbent products to sleepovers and was worried about the sound the disposable undergarments made when he moved. He and his mom found a pair of lined sweat pants that he wears over his undergarment that seems to lessen the "crunchy" sound.
3. "How will I throw the wet underpant away in the morning?"
Karla Giramonti, a nurse practitioner for the Division of Urology at the Albany Medical Center in New York, tells her patients to pack a plastic bag with an absorbent underpant in their sleeping bag. In the morning, the child can discreetly put the used underpant in the plastic bag, roll the plastic bag up in the sleeping bag, and no one will ever know!
If your child is not taking a sleeping bag, talk to the friend's parent before the sleepover. Ask about a discreet location where your child can change clothes and dispose of the underpant.
4. "How will I make it through camp?"
Paula Criel, director of camping services with the YMCA of the Greater Houston Area, says that prior to attending camp, parents complete medical forms and camper profiles that inform the counselors of conditions such as bedwetting. "It is not unusual for a counselor to have a few campers that wet the bed," Criel says. She adds that the counselors are experienced at helping the children be discreet about the condition.
5. "Can I be cured of bedwetting so I don't have to worry about accidents at sleepovers?"
Your pediatrician can prescribe medications that may keep your child dry at night until his bladder matures. However, Giramonti says that these medications in no way correct the underlying problem, just some of the symptoms. Also, they do have multiple side effects and thus should not be taken without the consultation of a medical doctor.
If you decide to use medication for your child's bedwetting, Dr. Michael Ritchey, a pediatric urologist in Houston, Texas, suggests starting the medicine a few days before the overnight event, since there is a chance that it may not work.
"My son tried some medications, but they never worked," Grace says. Since the medicine was unsuccessful, her son now takes his GoodNites® Underpants to camp outings and overnight stays and never misses a beat.
* Last name withheld to protect privacy.