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Impact of bedwetting on children


Bedwetting can be very distressing for children

Those who bedwet are fundamentally no different from others on general psychological testing.

However, recent research suggests that children who bed wet:

  • Have significantly lower self-esteem
  • Experience prominent feelings of being ‘different’ from others
  • Fear ‘discovery’, particularly by their peers

Such fears reduce the willingness of children to spend nights away from home. Children who bedwet can avoid letting friends into their bedrooms or will not go to sleepovers or camp. As a result the child may become isolated as social interaction and development have been restricted.

Limited research also suggests an association between bullying and bedwetting: It is most likely that the bullying is a result of bedwetting.

Facts about bedwetting

  • Bedwetting is a significant burden on both children and their parents
  • It affects approximately 15% of 5 year old children and 10% of children aged 7 years are frequent bedwetters
  • Boys have a higher likelihood of bedwetting (6.21% versus 2.51%) and a tendency to have more severe occurrences than girls
  • More than 5% of children and 0.5% of the adult population report night-time bedwetting, meaning that 10% of enuretic children will remain bedwetters for life
  • Symptoms of bedwetting in adolescents are more severe than in children
  • If bedwetting continues into adulthood it is associated with several psychosocial problems and may affect both personal relationships and career development

Patient &
parent voices

Hear from children and parents who have struggled with, and overcome, bedwetting

bedwetting into perspective

In a study exploring the perceived difficulty of life events in 9 year old children, the following were all rated as being ‘quite difficult’:

  • Wetting the bed – 32.5%
  • Can’t Spell – 32.5%
  • Are teased – 28.8%
  • Don’t have friends – 22.8%

Quality of sleep is also impaired in children who bedwet.

Did you know?

Boys are
more likely to wet
the bed than girls up
to their teenage years,
when the likelihood
becomes more

Read more


Children who wet the bed have a significantly lower perceived competence than children who don't, concerning physical appearance and self-esteem.

There is also a tendency to a lower perceived competence in children who wet the bed regarding their scholastic skills and social acceptance.

If you have specific concerns or questions after reading the information above, we recommend that you visit your GP, school nurse or pharmacist to discuss them.