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Should Parents Require Older Children, Adolescents, or Teens to Wear Diapers For Bed-Wetting? Part 3
I think it’s important to discuss why you chose a particular style of diaper to manage the youngster’s bed-wetting for the following reasons: it shows that you’re sympathetic because you’re taking the youngster’s feelings about wearing the diapers into consideration, it shows that it’s not some arbitrary decision designed to belittle or degrade the child or teenager, and it shows that you have the youngster’s best interests at heart. As one book on adolescent psychology put it- “As the adolescent pushes for autonomy,the wise adult relinquishes control in those areas in which the adolescent can make reasonable decisions and continues to guide the adolescent in areas where the adolescent’s knowledge is more limited.” In my opinion the choosing of an appropriate product to manage bed-wetting would fall into the second category. Adults have more life experience. This life experience makes them more effective at controlling their emotions and not letting them get in the way of making major decisions particularly regarding health care.
Bed-wetting is a very touchy issue with most older children,teenagers,and adolescents and as a result they probably won’t be as objective as parents in choosing the most effective product to manage their enuresis. Due to youngsters concerns with self-image their choice of what type of product to wear to bed will be dictated more by this criteria than on how well the product protects them at night.
As mentioned earlier it’s good for the parents to talk to them about all the different products out there to manage bed-wetting and the advantages and disadvantages of each that way if there is a disagreement about what type of product to wear to bed the parents can go over why they are requiring the child or teen to wear one product versus another. For example,it might be the case that the child or teen wants to wear one kind of product(say pull-on cloth diapers) whereas the parents feel that pin-on cloth diapers and plastic pants would be the best option. If that’s the case the parents can say something along these lines: “I know you would prefer to wear the pull-on diapers instead of the pin-on diapers but there are several advantages with the pin-on diapers. You move around a lot at night are a very heavy wetter. Also you tend to sleep on your side. The pin-on diapers are more effective at dealing with these specific problems because they’re thicker than the pull-on diapers and you’re able to customize the material in the pin-on diapers whereas with a pull-on diaper by putting more material in the diaper it causes it to bunch up. It might take some time to get used to the pin-on diapers but in the long run you’ll be much happier because these will protect you much better than the pull-on diapers which in turn will make you more comfortable. Your mother and I came up with a reward system to encourage you to try these out for awhile. We think you’ll be real happy with this idea and we’d like to discuss it now.” Again by doing this it makes the child or teen feel much better about the situation as opposed to the parents saying “you’re wearing pin-on diapers and plastic pants to bed because we say so!”
If the child or teen is reluctant to wear a certain type of product to bed the parents should definitely hear them out and then work with them in trying to overcome their anxiety. This requires patience,warmth,and encouragement. I would also say something along these lines: “I realize you’re getting older and you might feel that by us making the final decision in this matter we’re treating you like a baby or little child but we have a lot of experience in these matters and the products we chose for you to wear to bed offer the best protection. These will make you feel a lot more comfortable at night then the other products you wore.” To get back to my earlier analogies about wearing a cast,glasses,or braces,it’s kind of awkward and unpleasant at first,but eventually a person gets used to them and the person realizes they’re for his or her own good. The same is true for wearing diapers and plastic pants for a bed-wetting problem
By discussing the reasons behind your decision about what type of diapers to wear for the bed-wetting you are helping them in a very significant way-you are saying that you acknowledge their concerns about wearing the diapers and this makes it more likely they will not feel you’re treating them like a baby because you respect them enough to discuss why you are having them wear a specific type of diaper at night. It’s my feeling that this discussion with the child or teen in conjunction with using the reward system previously discussed will help them feel less apprehensive about the prospect of wearing diapers to bed.
I would also mention that there are situations where parents purchase diapers for their parents with incontinence issues such as with a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and there are instances of married couples who deal with bed-wetting and the spouse of the bed wetter suggests that they wear diapers to bed. In the case of the bed-wetting spouse,while there may be some initial embarrassment at the thought of wearing night diapers,the bed wetter realizes that it’s only fair to the person sharing the bed with them and eventually gets used to them. By mentioning these scenarios to the child or teen it helps them realize they are not alone and will help them feel less embarrassed about their parents putting them in diapers at night. They’ll be able to say to themselves- “If parents purchase diapers for their parents and the husband or wife of a bed wetter suggest they wear diapers to bed then I guess it’s not so bad that my parents are encouraging me to wear diapers to bed also.”
The last thing I’d like to mention with regard to the older child,adolescent,or teenager who might be having a hard time accepting diapers for bed-wetting is the following. The parents should let him or her know that it is not uncommon to feel this way. Many incontinent adults have difficulty accepting diapers also but over time they come to terms with this. As mentioned before it would be a good idea for the child or teen to talk to other people in a similar situation.
In conjunction with the techniques previously mentioned to help the youngster accept the diapers it might be necessary for the youngster to speak to a mental health professional(if financially feasible) to help them adapt to wearing the diapers to bed. It’s my contention that by using all of these approaches together-the reward system,discussing the reasoning behind your choice of a particular type of diaper,the positive self-talk,parental encouragement when the child gets distressed and/or discouraged about the diapers,speaking to a mental health professional,and mentioning the fact that adults get other adults to wear diapers to bed,they’ll be able to internalize the positive psychological aspects of these strategies. This in turn will help them cope with the thought of wearing diapers,it will help them by dispelling the negative self-image they might have of themselves due to wearing diapers to bed ,and they’ll feel more confident about themselves because they’ll be protecting themselves more effectively which will help improve their self-esteem.
I realize that what I’ve just said goes against the prevailing wisdom espoused by most pediatricians,child psychologists,and other professionals but I think it’s time we reevaluate our current attitudes toward the management of nocturnal enuresis and look at this issue in a whole new light.
How one copes with wearing diapers to deal with bed-wetting is a very personal issue. Some people don’t have any problem whatsoever wearing diapers to bed and are even glad to wear them because of the security and comfort they provide,whereas others need a significant amount of coaxing and encouragement to use them. Parents should not get discouraged if this is the case. It could take several months or more(depending on the individual) for the youngster to feel completely comfortable wearing nighttime diapers.
Although it might take awhile for the youngster to get used to wearing the diapers to bed,over time the child or teen will realize how much more comfortable and secure they’ll make he or she feel. At this stage they won’t have any problem putting the diapers on before going to bed. It’ll be second nature to them. Like brushing their teeth they’ll view wearing the diapers as just another part of their nighttime routine.
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