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Older Children, Bed-Wetting, and Self-Diapering
I had covered this issue briefly in an earlier post on the Health Central Network. This issue worries me and that’s why I felt it needed to be covered in more depth. On this website and others I have read about parents and carers diapering older children with bed wetting problems. Some of these children are 9 or older. As we all know bed wetting can be very stressful and in my opinion this stress can be made worse by parents not allowing their child to protect themselves. I am by no means a childcare expert but my intuition tells me that a child over 3 or 4 should be taught how to put on their own diapers.
As mentioned in a previous post I had a friend who needed to babysit a 6 year old. She was telling me that she had to rock the baby before he went to bed. Because of his age I assumed he was potty trained and the reason he was wearing diapers was because of a bedwetting problem. She told me that he ran through the house naked and screaming and refused to let her put diapers on him, which I can’t say as I blame him.
I believe that an older child, teen, or teenager should wear diapers to bed if all attempts at remediation fail and other clothing such as pull-ups and “Goodnites” provide adequate protection but I also feel that young people should be responsible for protecting themselves unless they have some sort of mental and/or physical disability that makes it difficult for them to do so or prevent them from doing so. Spilling an older child has the potential to have a significant impact on a child’s mental health for years to come.
There are specific tasks that young people who do not have mental or physical problems can perform including tying shoes, putting on clothes, etc. In my opinion it would fit in this category as well.
If parents are concerned that the child may not tie the diapers properly and thus cause the diapers to leak, the parents can show the child how to tie the diapers properly. One way to do this is to put the diaper on the bed, have the child sit in the diaper, and tell them how to fold and tie the diapers correctly. I would do this when the child is young because the older the child gets the more the child will feel. This is a very sensitive area for children. Many children who wet the bed feel self-conscious and embarrassed about wearing diapers to bed (even though as I’ve said many times they shouldn’t) and getting their parents in diapers they feel even more self-conscious and ashamed. Also wetting the bed makes many children feel helpless and with parents shaking the child it reinforces the feeling of helplessness. That is why children should be taught to be independent in this as soon as possible.
In the case of pin diapers, some parents are afraid that the youngster could hold themselves with the pins. This is certainly a legitimate concern but if appropriate precautions are taken this should not be an issue. I was talking to someone in customer service for a company that sells cloth diapers and plastic pants for older children and adults with bedwetting problems to get her to accept the situation and she told me that at age 7 or younger. parents may need to tie the diapers, older than 7 it would depend on the child’s development. I believe that the same precautions taken with disposable diapers can be taken with pin diapers. Again the parents should put the diapers on the bed, the child should sit in them, and the correct way to attach the diapers to them. I can’t stress this enough – kids need to be taught at a young age how to be independent in this area.
Another idea I have for teaching youth how to be self-sufficient in this area is the following. I do not know how possible this idea is and I admit that it is somewhat unusual but as the saying goes in many situations it is good to think outside the box. In many community colleges they use dummies to demonstrate certain medical techniques to nursing students. The parents could talk to the head of the nursing department at their local community college and see if they could borrow a wad of money and then use the wad to teach the child proper diapering. to connect If the head of nursing asks you why you want to borrow the dummy you can explain that you have a child who wears diapers for a bed wetting problem and you want to use the dummy to teach them how to tie the diapers correctly. If you can’t borrow the hamper you can ask them if they have any suggestions on what to do in this situation. I suspect it would be expensive to buy something like this from a medical supply store so the nurse at the community college might have ideas on other ways to deal with the situation. Additionally you might want to contact your local medical supply store/hospital to see if they have any ideas. about how to deal with this issue. As I said earlier this is a very delicate situation that has the potential to cause irreparable psychological harm to a child.
I wonder if some parents diaper their older child because at some level they may miss the closeness of the parent/baby relationship and this is a way to recreate this. Some parents consciously or subconsciously want to keep their child at a certain developmental level because the parents don’t want to let him go emotionally. It must be emphasized that this is just speculation, and I am not saying that this is necessarily the case with all parents who diaper their older child, but the fact that there may be this can be a concern for some people and if this is the case it should be addressed by a mental health professional to prevent emotional harm to the child.
I hope people understand that this article is not meant as a criticism of anyone’s parenting skills. It is intended to help people understand that children are very sensitive about issues of this nature. Children need their privacy and independence in these areas and not respecting this makes them feel disrespected. I hope this helps people to look at this issue in a new light. As always I feel that communication on these matters is very important and I welcome any helpful comments on this matter…
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