Childhood is a difficult period for anyone and it is also a time when a problem that makes an individual different from the norm can result in teasing, ridicule and even alienation from the peer group. Siblings in a household notice things that are going on in their home, such as how their mother is always doing laundry, or how their mother often reminds their brother to use the bathroom before he goes to bed at night, or how their brother never stays over at friends overnight. Also the odor of urine first thing in the morning in the hallway is often unmistakable and unsettling.
There are mixed views on whether or not siblings should be told about their brother or sisters bed wetting problems. Some children are so concerned about it that they swear their parents to secrecy and don’t want a word of their condition breathed to their siblings. If this is the case with your child then respecting your child’s express wishes is more important then informing the siblings of the situation. However some experts believe that bed wetting should not necessarily be a family’s “best kept horrible secret.” Secrets often give rise to feelings of humiliation and shame and the child who suffers from enuresis already feels bad enough already without being made to feel worse.
If you do choose to discuss bed wetting with the siblings do it in a straightforward and “matter-of-fact” manner making sure your children understand that it is not caused by anything bad their brother did. Let them know that bed wetting is considered a “developmental problem” meaning that the bed wetting child’s bladder has not caught up in its level of maturity to the rest of the child’s body. Also let them know that through treatment the child will be able to get rid of the problem and that in the meantime it is important to be kind, supportive and understanding.
Take the confusion and mystery surrounding bed wetting away from your children’s thinking by explaining that everyone is met with different obstacles or challenges in life. Point out that some people have trouble learning to add and subtract, while other people have trouble learning to ride a bike or swim and their sibling has problems with bladder control during the night. The bed wetting child may want to be present for your talk with their siblings or he may not. Proceed according whichever is the case.
If you or any other family member was ever a bed wetter share this knowledge with your children. Tell your children that bed wetting is often something that is inherited and no body really knows why. Explain that it is something that has to be dealt with just like any other problem in life. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill when explaining the matter to your children. If you make it seem small then they will likely see it that way.
Establish a “no teasing” rule in the family and tell your children that they are not to treat the bed wetting child any differently nor are they to tell their friends about their sibling’s situation. Make them understand that the child’s feelings matter and that he needs support and encouragement and not criticism and scorn.