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Motivational Therapy for Bedwetting

Topic Overview

Motivational therapy for bedwetting uses praise, encouragement, and rewards to help a child gain bladder control. It's about telling children that they have control of their bodies and encouraging them to take steps that bring about more and more dry nights. For best results, keep a record of your child's progress. And work with your child to design a reward system (such as a star chart).

You can reward your child for reaching both big and small goals and tasks. For example, you could reward your child when he or she:

  • Uses the toilet before going to bed.
  • Helps to change wet sheets.
  • Has a dry night.

As part of this therapy, it's important to not punish, blame, or embarrass your child for wetting the bed.

Motivational therapy can help children gain some degree of control over their bedwetting. But if it doesn't help your child in 3 to 6 months, think about trying other methods.

This therapy may involve a series of counselling sessions with a trained professional. During the sessions, the counsellor encourages the child to take responsibility for the bedwetting and to be very involved in the treatment. The counsellor, parents, and child decide what reward (praise, stickers, or trinkets) the child will be given for dry days and/or nights.

  • It is unclear exactly how many children gain complete bladder control through motivational therapy alone.
  • Children who do gain complete bladder control with motivational therapy are less likely to return to accidental wetting after treatment than children who are treated with other therapies.
  • This treatment works best for children who want to take part in it. It may be used in combination with other treatments.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Glazener CMA, Evans JHC (2004). Simple behavioural and physical interventions for nocturnal enuresis in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2).
  • National Clinical Guideline Centre (2010). Nocturnal Enuresis: The Management of Bedwetting in Children and Young People. London, UK: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Available online: http://www.guidelines.gov/content.aspx?id=25680.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised December 28, 2012
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