The Norman Transcript

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December 7, 2012

Potty training success leads to bed-wetting nightmare

NORMAN — Q: This past August, when our son was a mere 22 months of age, it took him two weeks to learn to use the potty successfully. He was dry even at night. We were thrilled. However, now that the weather has turned cold, he has started wetting the bed every night and even during afternoon naptime. We tell him it’s wrong but he doesn’t seem to care. We even put his little potty in his crib but he doesn’t use it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

A: Congratulations on potty training your son at 22 mos. Disposable diaper manufacturers do not want parents to know that just as it is easier to housetrain a 4-month-old puppy as opposed to a one-year-old dog, it will be far easier to toilet train an intelligent human being at 22 months than it will be if one waits until said human is 36 months. As soon as this column appears, you should go into hiding.

However, I have to tell you that you’re letting your son’s success go to your heads. It’s premature by at least six months to expect consistent night dryness from a child of your son’s tender age. The fact that he was dry after periods of sleep for a couple of months is what I’ll call a temporary side-effect of daytime training. It was bound not to last. The other factor operating here is that boys are twice as likely as girls to be bed-wetters. No one knows why that is.

Then there’s the matter of the message you’re sending your son. If I put this gently, you may not get the point: You’re making a huge mistake by telling him that bedwetting is wrong. Reacting punitively is not going to help matters and is very likely to make the problem much worse. You’re also headed toward an ever-escalating parent-child power struggle. Being anxious and punitive about bedwetting sets a bad disciplinary precedent.

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