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How to Deal With Bed Wetting

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Habitual bed wetting at night may be a result of organic disease or defect, but in the majority of cases, it is psychological in origin. Bad habit training in infancy may also be a contributory factor. It is not uncommon in epilepsy, disease of the spinal cord, diabetes, defects of the urinary tract and in severe mental defect. An organic cause should be excluded before ascribing the disorder to a psychological factor.

The bed-wetting child, in psychological terms, is expressing a protest, or unconsciously asserting a desire to return to the most protected phase of life: babyhood. It symbolizes a regression due to a lack of security in the child's relationships with the world of reality. Such a lapse may arise from illness, from over-protection or neglect on the part of parents, or from excessive demands by parents for affection or for grown-up standards. Frequently, bed wetting arises after a period of normal control and in such cases there is generally some immediate or sudden threat to the child's security.

The arrival of a new baby creating a jealousy situation, the loss of a loved person, the commencement of school-such events may disturb the stable inner world of childhood with resultant bed wetting. Often frustrated aggression, especially if associated with feelings of guilt and inferiority, is the psychological background of enuresis.

Habit training has a place in treatment but, fundamentally, treatment must be directed to eliminating the psychological factors which are adversely affecting the child. Expert investigation by a pediatrician is recommended. A careful study must be made of the child's reactions to the members of the family to discover the underlying insecurities and frustrations.

The causes must be made clear to the parents and their co-operation obtained in rectifying these. Every effort must be made to remove the sense of inferiority and guilt so often associated with bed wetting. The child must be encouraged and given confidence. Fluid-restriction is usually of little value as is also the case with drug treatment. In older children, suggestion through hypnosis may prove helpful if combined with efforts to remove the basic psychological troubles.

Bed wetting is admittedly a difficult disorder to cure, but in view of its social implications every effort should be made in the early stages to effect a cure before the disorder has become a confirmed habit.

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