It is generally considered by physicians that bed wetting is not a problem until it begins to take place on a more or less consistent basis in girls who are five years or older and boys who are six years and older. Boys tend to be developmentally slower in more areas than girls and this includes both daytime and nighttime bladder functions as well.
Often children who have dry beds for weeks or months on end and then begin bed wetting either have a medical problem such as a kidney infection, a bladder infection or the onset of juvenile diabetes or else they are suffering from severe stress that has brought it on. The latter is often referred to as secondary enuresis. If an illness is the cause of the bed wetting the emphasis has to be on proper treatment. However children who always have wet beds are not likely to have a physical oriented problem. It is more likely that they simply need to learn how to control their bladders.
Remaining dry all night long can be compared to learning to ride a bicycle. Some find it a simple skill to learn while others have a more difficult time mastering it. Learning to ride a bike is similar to nighttime bladder control because both are learned skills. When it comes to learning to ride a bicycle, the brain has to become attuned to the nuances of balance and it has to learn to shift and correct the body’s position as it moves about on the bike. At the same time the brain has to remember to watch for pedestrians and traffic, avoid bumps in the road as well as potholes and it has to make sure the feet using the pedals are in sync with the action of the brain.
When it comes to both sleeping and waking up dry in the morning, the brain has to be aware of when the bladder is full to capacity with urine and its response must be one of two things- it either must send a message to the brain that the child must be woken up immediately in order to urinate or it must squeeze and close off the urethra in order to keep the urine in place until the person is fully awake and can let the pee out of the body. All of these messages between the bladder and the brain must take place while a child is asleep in his bed. Both learning to master the skills that can enable you to ride a bike as well as learning to remain dry all night long seem almost impossible until you actually do. After that both bike riding and nighttime bladder control get easier.
This analogy works well for children who suffer from the angst of bed wetting. A child who admits with pride to having effectively learned to ride a two-wheeler can see the correlation between that and learning to stay dry. It is all a matter of learning how to do it and then to keep on doing the learned behavior properly.