“My kid has a bad attitude.”
“My child isn’t trying hard enough.”
“He doesn’t even care.”
“She’s manipulating me.”
“They’re doing it on purpose.”
Have you ever said any of these things after your child has wet the bed yet again? I confess that whether or not I have voiced any of the above frustrations, I have certainly felt them.
I’m a little afraid to post this article because it’s not the popular school of thought. But I know there are parents who are struggling with all these thoughts because I’ve been there. Those are the ones I want to help.
Do Kids Wet the Bed on Purpose?
Of all the possible reasons why a child is bedwetting, some form of a bad attitude is the one I have heard and seen suggested by parents more than any other. Yet, doctor after doctor will say that kids never wet the bed on purpose. And, children who wet the bed, if asked, will usually say they want to stop. It is true that most children do not wet the bed on purpose.
I don’t want to step on any toes, but I believe some children do wet the bed on purpose. As a parent and as a teacher, I have seen kids do all sorts of negative things when they don’t like how things are going.
Potty training, healthy eating habits, and doing homework are all things that a child has a relative amount of control over. And they’re all potential battle grounds.
Most children do not wet the bed on purpose, but some do. If your child is using bedwetting as a weapon and wetting the bed on purpose, you have an awesome opportunity to transform your relationship. Switch sides, become your child’s ally, and work together.
Keep in mind, though, that without a child articulating his or her thought process, it is impossible to know if a bad attitude is a contributing factor to bedwetting. Your child may feel dejected and have no strength or determination to continue trying to keep dry, or your child may be sullen over the whole issue. On the outside, it may look like an attitude. It might look like your child is wetting the bed on purpose.
These outward shows are not likely the inner, underlying, primary reason for bedwetting. The vast majority of bedwetters have a deep desire to stop wetting the bed. They are not interested in copping an attitude on this point. They, like their parents, are desperate for help.
What If My Child Says He or She Likes Wetting the Bed?
If your child tells you that he or she likes wetting the bed, it’s important to consider how serious the situation is. It might be time to seek counseling.
On the other hand, children will say they like doing something that they really don’t like for all kinds of reasons. They may feel helpless and that the fight to get better is too hard. If they tell their parents that they like it, then maybe their parents won’t bug them about it anymore. Perhaps if they say they like it, then they’ll be able to justify the behavior to themselves.
As adults, we tell ourselves all kinds of things to get through stressful situations. Kids are no different.
If your child is saying that he or she likes wetting the bed and you suspect that they really don’t, there are ways to help them.
Most importantly, keep it positive. Do not be the enemy. If your child wants to wet the bed, give permission, but the child takes responsibility. Teach how to clean it up and do the laundry. This isn’t a punishment, it’s part of life for someone who wets the bed on purpose.
At the same time, offer to work together whenever your child wants to work towards getting dry. Look at the different solutions for bedwetting, pick a couple that you like and present them to your child. Let your child decide which one to try and when (or if) to start.
Your job is to stay positive. Bedwetting on purpose is often a power struggle. Take the struggle out of the equation.
Do Kids Really Like A Wet Bed?
The literature will tell you that no one likes to wake up in a wet bed. For the most part, that’s true.
But some small children do not mind being wet. At night, if they wet the bed, they’re warm and tucked in. If they move, they’ll get cold. A wet bed does not bother them nearly as much as getting up and changing. In cases like these, if the child is not taught well, then there is potential for a bad habit to form.
Aside from that, I’ve heard from kids who don’t even realize they’re wet. My own sons weren’t always aware that they had wet the bed when they woke up in the morning. They didn’t like a wet bed, yet they didn’t even realize they had one. Dry awareness is one step in nighttime training.
Why Would A Child Wet the Bed on Purpose?
Children disobey. They rebel. It’s a mark of childhood. And as parents, we have the fun job of teaching right from wrong. Wetting the bed is not the usual thing for childhood rebellion, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Anger is a secondary emotion. It’s triggered by something else like hurt feelings, a misunderstanding, or unmet expectations. If someone is having trouble expressing anger appropriately, it comes out another way.
If a child knows that wetting the bed will upset a parent, it might be the negative behavior of choice to voice his or her anger – even if the anger is at someone or something other than a parent. The child is angry and wants everyone to know it, or feel it too.
As I said in the introduction, potty training is something that a child has control over. Some kids fight for control in the relationship at every chance they get. Others are more agreeable. Some kids fight for control in one area, but not another. A child who wets the bed on purpose might be attempting to exercise control.
I’ve heard story after story of children who wet the bed, the parents clean them up, leave the bedding til morning, and kid gets to sleep in the parents’ room or bed. Adults tell stories of when they were little, they’d wet the bed so they could sleep in their parents’ room. They wanted to be with mom or dad.
There’s also the well-known fact among special education teachers for the behavior disordered (and all behaviorists) that a child will do anything for attention – good or bad. Wetting the bed can gain a lot of attention.
I had a mentor who said if a child wants attention, then give it to him. Pretty simple. In the case of bedwetting, parent and child working on a cure together will give the child all kinds of very positive attention.
Children like to know the rules. Adults do too, for that matter. We like to know what’s expected of us and what might happen if we don’t do what’s expected. If we speed, how fast can we go without getting pulled over?
Learning to stay dry at night is easy for some, but tough for others. For children who find it particularly difficult, they might test the boundaries, wondering if they really have to get up at night to use the bathroom. If there’s a little sibling still in diapers, a child may wonder if he or she can still use diapers too. It’s well documented that a new sibling can trigger a bout of bedwetting. I touch on it in my article on why kids wet the bed.
The real goal when a child is wetting the bed on purpose is to get them dry. Knowing why they’re doing it on purpose is possibly helpful for discussion, but all the above reasons are handled the same way: find a positive way to cure bedwetting.
How Can I Get My Kid to Stop Wetting the Bed on Purpose?
If your child really is wetting the bed on purpose, the quickest way to end this kind of animosity is to remove the fight. Transform yourself from the perceived enemy to an undeniable friend.
Whatever solution for bedwetting that you choose to work through needs to be very positive for both you and your child.
When I was teaching high school behavior disordered students, there was a student who had gotten out of control in another classroom one afternoon. He was very angry for some reason I never knew, but the whole school knew how he handled his anger. He peed all over the room.
I was not involved in that particular situation, so I do not know how the staff handled the student. But, that same student, normally calm and agreeable, was in my Geography class. And that class was anything but calm and agreeable.
I chose M&Ms as my tool. With them and a reward system, I transformed that class. When I introduced the system to my students, one promptly declared, “Oh, I know what she’s doing! She’s trying to make us behave!” He was quite sure he had ratted me out and foiled my plans. Yet, before the ring of his voice quieted in the schoolroom, his classmate scolded, “Shut up! I want an M&M!”
The one who scolded and wanted the M&M? He was the student who had peed all over the other classroom. A simple M&M and he was ready to do whatever I asked.
I intermittently set M&Ms on the desks of those who were quiet, respectful, and doing their work. Along with my peeing student, my original critic earned M&Ms with the best of them. Order was kept in that Geography class. More importantly, my students and I began to get along, banter appropriately, and enjoy the atmosphere in the classroom. To me, those candies were priceless.
A single M&M may not get a child who is wetting the bed on purpose to stop, but my story illustrates how positive interactions can absolutely change the working relationship between students and teacher – and child and parents.
A child who is wetting the bed on purpose needs a positive method to retrain the brain just like any other child struggling with bedwetting. The child’s brain needs new connections, a new message that says wetting the bed is not an option.
As a solution, I obviously recommend My Bedwetting Victory. I incorporate plenty of positive reinforcement in My Bedwetting Victory. It is a very useful learning tool. Yet more to the point for our topic at hand, it can really change the tone of a relationship that is strained. Hold firm to the positive interactions and ignore the bad attitude and testing; your child will eventually give up the fight.
If a child is dealing with anger, rebellion, control, or other big, negative emotions, talking with a professional might be considered. But bedwetting does not need to be the way those emotions are expressed.
I will say again that most children do not wet the bed on purpose.
It may look like a child has a bad attitude, but it probably has more to do with the discouragement and embarrassment that a child faces with chronic bedwetting.
Whether a child is wetting the bed on purpose, has a bad attitude about working to stay dry, or is desperate to stay dry, a positive relationship between parent and child is more important than anything about bedwetting.
If you’re a parent trying to understand or a child looking for help, know that you can have victory over bedwetting with a positive and constructive solution.