Most children under the age of 5 achieve nighttime bladder control by the time they start school. If a child has never been dry at night, and at the age of a 5 still wets the bed at least twice a week, they are considered to suffer from Primary Nocturnal Enuresis, unless a doctor's visit confirms there are physiological reasons for the bed wetting.
However, bed wetting is not uncommon in this age group: 15-20% of 5-year-olds wet the bed, and only around 15% of these kids will grow out of their bed wetting each year, so by the time they are 8 only 7% of children still wet the bed.
If the child and family is not bothered about the bed wetting then there is no urgency to treat it in an unwilling 5 year old. Indeed, forcing a child to use an alarm may be counterproductive.
On the other hand, treating the bed wetting at this age can prevent the emotional stigma that often occurs as children get older and become embarrassed about participating in overnight activities at friends' homes and school or sporting trips. Bed wetting can also take its toll on family life with sleep disruption and increased amounts of housework to keep the child dry and clean. For these reasons, a safe treatment regimen with minimal side effects is highly recommended. If your child is ready and wants to cure his or her bed wetting discuss the options with him or her.
Using a Bedwetting Alarm with this age cohort can have great results and prepare them well for the nights away from home as they grow older. As a parent or caregiver, you will still need to be closely involved with helping your child use the alarm. Initially, parents should spend time familiarising their child with the alarm and the night time toilet routine. Priming is a strategy that can be used during the first week as the child settles down to go to sleep, to help train the brain to respond when the alarm triggers. Very deep sleepers may also need assistance from parents to wake when the alarm triggers.
The other thing that parents can do to ensure their youngster stays engaged over the treatment period is to record nightly progress so the child can see how they are doing. Milestones that can be logged on a sticker chart include whether the child wakes to the alarm of their own accord, whether they have a wet or dry night and whether they recall getting up and going to the toilet when the alarm triggers. A Reward Programme may be implemented for reaching certain goals e.g. completion of the first week of alarm training, waking up to the alarm for consecutive nights, achieving a number of dry nights during the week, recalling a code word that you give them during the night -this helps with recall to develop the bladder/brain connection, particularly for deep sleepers.
Coaching and encouraging your child through the good and bad nights will help them during the process of alarm training and keep them focused on the ultimate goal of DRI nights.