NATHHAN National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network

Christian Families Homeschooling Special Needs Children

 Home | Login | Contact Us | Resource Room

Bed wetting? Should we spank?

    My 7 year old step son is still wetting the bed. My husband said it took the longest time for him to get out of diapers and pull ups. He was still wearing them when he was 5 years old.

    Finally, we said that was not going to cut it at our house. And I tell him now that having an accident during the day is not acceptable at all.

But the night time...we cut off drinking at 8:30. And I have gotten him up an hour after he has gone to bed, before we go to bed. Like last night, I got him back up at 10:30 which is a chore because he is dead asleep. He barely went to the bathroom. This morning, his bed was wet. And he didn’t have anything to drink after 8:30pm.

    I am getting tired of washing the sheets every day. I asked him if he is not realizing he is wetting the bed, and he says he doesn’t. I told him that he needs to work on realizing that he has to go, that it isn’t any different than during the day when your body tells that you have to go.

    I have read a few things on some websites. James Dobson says that you shouldn’t spank for it, which I agree to a little, but then when does it become the time that they need to be accountable for it? Also, Dr. Dobson said that you shouldn't wake them up during the night to go, because they don’t understand it. And their bodies could be thinking they are getting up and going, when they really are still in bed… kind of a dream state. But I don’t know if I agree with that.   What can we do?


When my son was still wetting the bed at night, I also got very tired of washing the mattress pad, sheets, blankets, and comforter almost daily. So I just let him sleep on the vinyl mattress protector with a sheet or blanket covering him depending on the season until he outgrew wetting the bed. Having patience is a virtue that you need in this situation. There are several websites that would be helpful for this problem.;

    God Bless, Deb



    My son has Cerebral Palsy and is completing potty trained since the age of 4 except at night. My husband and I accept it and have never questioned this. We know it is accidental so I buy goodnights at Wal-Mart and he puts one on before bed. No tricks no treats and no beats. We just put on the pull-up and they are wet and the bed is dry and everyone is happy, no need to cry. We plan to keep doing this no matter how old he is. We really want to keep a good self esteem in our child and this is something we know he will either outgrow or maybe never be able to control. Either way he is loved and if he can’t control his bladder, he is still okay.

    Dear Mom, I just read your questions about spanking your son for bedwetting. As a former bed wetter (from a whole family of bed wetters!) I just felt I had to write. Bedwetting is caused by a child sleeping too deeply. He is so sound asleep that his brain cannot respond to his bladder's calls for help in the night. Your own statement said the truth "...I got him back up at 10:30 which is a chore because he is dead asleep." You are right - he IS dead asleep. And that is exactly what he is when he wets the bed - dead asleep.

    When your son's sleep pattern matures, he will sleep more like an adult ( lighter!!) and he will be able to wake up when his bladder calls for help. He will not sleep so deeply that he cannot wake up. But it will be something you will have to wait on. You cannot change how fast his sleep pattern matures nor how deeply his body sleeps. And neither can he.

    I wet my bed nightly until I was 12 years old. The only times I did not wet the bed, was when I was away from home, visiting someone. Then I did not sleep soundly because I was not in my own bed. Lo and behold, when I didn't sleep so soundly, I could wake up and go to the bathroom. You may have already seen this happen with your son.

    Instead of realizing that it was his deep sleep that was changed, you may have decided, "Oh, see there - he really can control it if he wants to!" WRONG. He just didn't sleep well in a strange bed and that made it easier for him to wake up. He wasn't dead asleep.

    When I was about 11, puberty began and my sleep pattern began to change: it took longer to fall asleep, slept a shorter period of time, etc. My sleep pattern became more like an adults, lighter, shorter, etc. It is a physical maturity thing and you cannot make it happen sooner than it will. Pad his bed with old towels. Put him in Depends. And ask the Lord to help you accept, with a gracious spirit, how He has made your son.

    The bedwetting will pass eventually. It will be a long-gone thing one day. But the words you say to him about it, or the disapproval you heap on him, the attitude of disgust, or the criticism you say to him, will never be forgotten. So be careful how you treat him and what you say, because those things won't go away.
I care about you Mom. I don't want you to regret your words and actions someday.

    Love, Kim



    My mother found a Dr. that told her perhaps my diet needed to be adjusted. I was restricted from all nuts - including peanut butter, bananas, caffeine, chocolate in any form. The reason was due to the endorphins that are sent into the brain. They act as a great sleeping aid when a child is growing and the hormones are in a state of flux. It worked for me. I was not able to eat any of these items after 12 noon at any day.

    My step-daughter, who is by all means healthy and has just developed her menses, is now experiencing episodes of bed-wetting. I have told her what happened to me and for the past week we have been dry in the morning. It was becoming a nightly occurrence. Many of our children have dietary difficulties and they are seemingly tied to autism and other problems. Perhaps this will help another child.

    Thank You, Carol Joy


    We had the same problem with our son. The doctors explained to us that it is not uncommon for boys to have bed-wetting problems. They explained that their nervous systems are immature and when they get into a deep sleep they are not awoken from sleep as we would be. It was not a behavior issue with our son. They tried medication when he was 5 years old which did not work. At 6 1/2 years our new doctor told us about a buzzer system developed out of Palco Labs in Santa Cruz, CA. It is called Wet-Stop. It was very effective for our son. It was not long before he was staying dry.

    Their literature states that Wet-Stop reinforces the normal bladder-to-brain messages (as the body's signal to awaken and go to the bathroom during extremely sound sleep is not registering) and teaches your child to awaken before the onset of urination. We also did not give our son anything to drink after 7PM. If you are interested, the phone number for Palco Labs is 1-800-346-4488. They had a money back guarantee policy when we used it. My son was so relieved to have that problem taken care of, as he would wear large diapers to bed to keep his bed from getting wet at night and he did not want ANYONE to know! We used this system for him a long time ago as he is now 23 years old, but we also tried it for our adopted daughter with special needs when we were having problems with her a few years ago. It did not work for her because it turned out she has a very rare bladder disorder and is now catheterized.

    If you would like any further info please e-mail me at  Dianna.



    We had tried everything with our 9 year old daughter and were very frustrated. She is diabetic, so high blood sugars can have some effect on urine control, also. We were taught about deep sleepers, and how this can run in families. The recommendation was to use an alarm. Though it is waking them in the night, it only wakes them if they begin urinating so their brain can make the connection.

    We found one through a company online that is placed in the child's underwear, with the alarm worn on their clothes. Our daughter has made considerable progress. She has had several dry nights, and has woken on her own to use the toilet in the night several times. She is pleased with the success, even though she wasn't thrilled with the monitor at first. Our hope is that with a few more weeks of practice, she may be able to go "on her own".

    If you are interested in this approach, the company's name is Koregon Enterprises, and it is located in Oregon. The phone is 1-800-544-4240. The unit and two pads for females, with shipping, cost us about $75, but has been well worth it.

I highly recommend you take the opportunity to pray daily with your son. Together, you can pray for a solution. Try to help him understand that it is a skill, like riding a bike, that needs to be learned and practiced. Mastering control over this area has been very encouraging to each of our children.



    Please realize that your son needs your help and support, not your judgment and condemnation. My daughter has Down Syndrome and was not learning on her own to stay dry at night. She slept in a pull-up each night, but was rapidly growing out of the largest size, and I wanted her to be able to have sleep-overs with other girls and feel confident. I knew she would learn eventually on her own, but I also knew that there had to be other families out there who had successfully resolved this issue with their kids.

    When she was 7 years old I contacted our wise pediatrician, who recommended that we purchase a little nighttime "buzzer" system that would sound whenever she began to wet at night. Well -- it worked extremely well and quickly for our family. I showed it to my child the first night and explained how it would fit inside her "big girl panties" and PJ's and would buzz if she started to wet in the night. I told her that when the buzzer woke her she should hold her pee right away and then call out "Mommy!!" very loudly, and I would come right away and help her to the bathroom. I downplayed the negative stuff like wet panties and PJ's and just focused on the positives -- that this would help her learn to stay dry every night so she could wear big-girl panties at night and have friends over for the night. I let her play with the buzzer a LOT before trying to attach it to her clothes. She didn't want it on, but I said it couldn't help her unless it was on her clothes, and she was finally comfortable with it. I was prepared for many nights of having to get up and change her clothes and bedclothes -- but the result for her was very different. She did NOT want to hear that buzzer go off, and so within a week she trained herself to hold her pee -- all night long! This was a better outcome than I had even dreamed of!

    We used a particular buzzer system designed for kids which includes a chart for star stickers. When the child has 30 dry nights, the parent can order (for free) a little star pin for the child to wear. The star chart worked well for us, and after a couple of weeks I went ahead and ordered the pin because I wanted to have it ready the morning my child got her 30th star. My daughter was thrilled to fill her star chart and earn her star pin, and we disconnected the buzzer the day she got her 30th star and put the pin on her PJs instead. She wore it for a few weeks and then lost interest as she had moved beyond needing any reinforcers for dry nights. She has only had one wet night in the year and a half since using the buzzer system. I recommend this particular system -- the Sleep-Dry Program from StarChild Labs (tel. 800-346-7283). It cost us about $60 but was worth every single cent!!!



    PLEASE do not spank your child for this bedwetting problem. It is NOT willful disobedience! It is as it accident of immaturity.

    Does your child use Ritalin? one of the major side effects of this drug, as you may know, is bed wetting.
Dr. Dobson is a GREAT and respected authority on ALL things child related. I would read his book Dare To Discipline and Bringing Up Boys. Spanking should be reserved for DIRECT DISOBEDIENCE only.

Sincerely, Traci



    Several parents suggested that supplements of additional magnesium had helped their children. This was then tested out by several other list parents who then reported that it worked immediately.... and consistently. I can't say what the dosage might be...... I think it took a little trial and error on some family's parts, but magnesium is not something that becomes toxic or dangerous at larger than RDA levels. I know some of the young kids are taking as much as 400 mgs a day. Magnesium is very calming to the central nervous system, too..... so a good bedtime thing. I wanted to share the information, even though I have not personally had experience with it helping (our daughter has spina bifida issues and does not have bladder control because of that).

    Another old folk remedy for bedwetting is honey...... just a big spoonful of honey by mouth, at bedtime...... maybe mixed into warm milk.

    Patti Durovchic, mom to Katera, age 7 (CP, ACC, microcephaly, SBO-TCS, seizure disorder, severe global delays, motor and speech dyspraxia, sensory dysfunction, etc.).... in Washington state.



    Dear Mom and Dad,

God created a wonderful system when he made the bladder. Our bladder holds a certain amount of urine. If the urine stays in our systems too long, we can get a urinary tract infection. Too full bladders often empty themselves. This occurs in old age, some illnesses, infancy and childhood till our system matures. We have a saying at our house, “Continence is temporary. Enjoy it while you can.”

    Consider letting your son have charge of the situation. It is his bladder, after all. Buy a couple of extra sets of sheets (they are cheap at thrift stores), and make sure the mattress is covered with waterproof protection. Let him drag off the wet sheets in the morning and put them into the washer. Put a stool next to the washer so he can do his job competently. Show him how to set the dials and how much soap to put in. (You will probably have to switch the load later.) He can take the dry sheets out and stash them somewhere till they’re needed. He may need to take a bath/shower in the morning to smell good. You have a tremendous opportunity to bless him. I have asked both my children when they were little--4 or 5 years old—Do you know what grownups do when they wet/poop their pants? Of course they have no idea; they didn’t think that grownups had that problem. Well, I say, they change them!

    Encourage your son that his body will grow at the pace God determined it to. Some children walk early, some later. It is the same with all the developmental areas. God loves little boys, even ones that wet their bed.

    I am not an expert in this area. I was a “bed wetter” who was screamed at and chased through the house with wet sheets. I have carried HUGE emotional scars from that. The irony is that now I am the only sibling near enough to visit our mother in her assisted living home. She is incontinent. God has brought me incredible healing through this situation.


    Here is something I kept that I took out of the Saturday Evening Post, September 1980. This tells the story.

Placing the Bed-Wetting Blame.

    Cows milk, chocolate, eggs, grain and citrus fruit are bad bed partners for an estimated 5.5 million American children says Dr. James C. Breneman of Michigan State University. It is allergies to these substances that cause them to wet the bed every night. Once the offending food is removed from a child's diet, bed-wetting stops almost at once.

    Cow's milk is the greatest culprit. Dr. Breneman found it caused allergies in 60 percent of the 500 subjects he studied between 1956 and 1979. The bladder is the target in these food allergy cases, he says. Its wall swells, its volume is reduced and the smooth muscle becomes irritated and prone to spasm. The allergy inflames the bladder's shutoff valve, making it less likely to constrict. The allergy also causes fatigue; the child sleeps deeply and is less motivated to get up during the night to relieve himself.

    Dr. Breneman first checks his patients for other possible causes of enuresis such as genitourinary tract defect of infection. He then puts the child on a non-allergenic diet and reintroduces foods one at a time until the allergen is identified. Skin testing for food allergies, he believes, is not as reliable.

What many believe to be the cause of chronic enuresis-emotional stress-is actually only the result of the allergic symptoms, says Dr. Breneman. Bed-wetting is traumatic for both parents and children and it usually sets-up a pattern which reinforces stress.

"Children will grow out of the food allergy during puberty,' he says, " but they will often then become sensitive to inhaled allergens."

    I know what I did for my daughter worked. She was not able to have other children for sleep overs or go to them because of this problem. She knew after we found that this worked she only had to stay away from milk and milk products after lunch, and she did not wet the bed at all. If she went to stay all night at a friend’s house, she would tell the mother of the friend that she could not have milk be cause she was allergic. She never had to say why. She knew if they had ice cream, etc, I would have some for her when she got home the next morning before noon.



    I found two things that I'd like to share. One is a book that comes from the Children's Memorial Hospital of Chicago Dept. of Urology. They have a program called Try for Dry. The book is called "Getting to Dry" and costs $14.95 through Borders. It can be picked up at Barnes and Nobles, too.

    I asked if they were used to working with children with all kinds of backgrounds. Our youngest children were in multiple placements, suffered through two disruptions and were abused in at least two foster homes. We feel certain that this is part of the reason our son has not been successful at remaining dry at night.

    Next, the library book had an add for PODS. These adhere to your child's underpants much like sanitary napkins. I have not used them, but did order some after reading about them. The thought is that some children acquaint that "warm, cozy feeling of wet diapers" from their infancy to the same feel they get from pull ups. For our son, it might be a reminder of life with his birth family. We need to retrain his brain. PODS allow air circulation through the underpants so they cool quickly. It says they are absorbent enough to "contain the trickles and puddles", but still let children feel the wetness.    

    The way I see it, $14.95 is a small price to pay if it works and I'm not paying for pull ups anymore. Hope this is helpful. Remember that some children do have small bladders and other physical challenges that make it harder for them to train. We did speak with our family Dr. to be sure we weren't missing something medical/physical.



    We came across a family who had gone with the Society for Enuresis, you know those magazine ads with the pen and ink sketch of the little girl with the oversized head who's crying--next to the caption in bold, red letters that reads "STOP BEDWETTING!" with an 800 number you can call.

    This family described how the organization assigns you a representative who provides you with an enuresis (bedwetting) alarm, tailors a developmental program to your child's individual needs, and monitors your family's progress in accomplishing these goals, adjusting the program as you go along. They said it took about two months for their 7-year-old son to become dry at night using this program. They also said it cost over $1,000. OOOUCH?? I knew immediately we could not go that route financially. However, the mom I spoke with was willing to describe to me, at length, the system of encouragements and rewards designed by the company rep to build confidence and responsibility into the child being treated. It didn't sound much different than any other system I've personally used with our kids to teach things such as chores or manners. I knew from our experience with medical suppliers (companies who supply wheelchairs, oxygen, asthma treatment machines, medical homecare supplies, etc.) that they carry enuresis alarms or could at least order them through a catalog. We decided the cost was worth the benefit of seeing an end to this nagging condition as well as for our son to grow in confidence that he could overcome it.

    I made the mistake of paying retail at the medical supplier before going online to check out what was available there. The online price was $20 less than the medical supplier including shipping, and was a tiny fraction compared to the Society's fee for managing your progress. The device we used absolutely worked miracles. Inside of one week our son was dry all night or was getting up BY HIMSELF to go to the bathroom.

    As it turned out, we didn't even need the elaborate system of rewards described by the other family. Our boy was SO READY to be done with wetting. Now with a younger child who may not be as cognizant of the problem, some extra encouragement and rewards may be in order. For our son, just waking up dry was all the reward he needed. I wish we had checked into this product several years ago. The company is called NYTONE. Their web address is On their website is a link to a research document written by a doctor regarding enuresis. I found this document helpful in wading through all the pro's and con's regarding this condition. Their phone # is 801-973-4090. I would heartily recommend this product to anyone whose child struggles with this issue. The old line of products, where a pad of some sort was placed under the sheet, were not as effective because the alarm didn't sound soon enough after wetting occurred. This product alarms the very instant they begin to urinate, causing the child's brain to attach the sensation of the full bladder with the act of waking. We simply followed (to the letter) the instructions that came with the alarm. The literature that came with the product as well as the testimonials on the box indicate it can take up to three months to accomplish complete results. We were delightfully shocked when it only took one week. That was the first week of February, 2004. Our son has not wet at night a single time since then.

    According to the directions, a certain percentage of kids will have relapses within the first year. If/when this happens, we'll simply use the alarm again to get back on track. The only problems we had with the system were very minor. Our son's underwear were old and threadbare so the alarm lead was making contact through the fabric even when it was not wet. We solved this problem at first by adding a little patch of old t-shirt material to his undies to make them thicker. Later in the week we just bought him some new underwear. That solved the problem. If you have any questions or just need encouragement, please email us at  and put "bedwetting" in the subject line. Hope this is an encouragement.
    Sincerely, Debby

P.S. We would love to use this system on our 16-year-old, but she has autistic tendencies that prevent her from tolerating anything attached to her body, especially her arms and hands, that is "out of the norm." If anyone at NATHHAN has any magic tricks we can use on her to accomplish nighttime continence, we would certainly be appreciative of you passing those along.