Will Punishment Work?

Ferrara, Di Giuseppe, Fabrizio, Sbordone, Amato, Cutrona, and Verrotti (2016) wanted to see how punishment influenced a child’s bedwetting. They evaluated 218 children that wet the bed. They found that kids that received punishment during their treatment had a lower rate of improvement.  Punishment included reprimanding, depriving them of sleep, mild beating, leaving them wet and other punishments.  Twelve percent of the patients received punishments and those kids had a 40% improvement in number of wet nights. Fifty-nine percent of kids without punishment improved. There was no significant difference between socioeconomic status and education level between parents that applied punishment and those that did not. The children that received punishment for their wetting had a lower rate of improvement than children that weren’t punished.

My opinion: I never encourage punishment in children that wet the bed.  Children that wet the bed already have lower self esteem, punishing them will decrease their self worth further.  I’ve heard many different avenues parents have taken to punish their children.  It can be appalling.  It’s usually because the parent feels that the child “doesn’t care.” Generally the child has given up because they feel like a failure.  I encourage parents to gently explained to the child that bedwetting is not their fault and they won’t be punished for wetting.  They will be punished for not following their parents direction during the day when they send them to void every 2-3 hours, take prescribed medicines, sit times to have a bowel movement and hydrate in the morning and early afternoon.  I also encourage families to have their child take their laundry to the laundry room and dispose of any pull ups.  This is not a punishment but being a contributing member of the household.

Ferrara, P., Giuseppe, M. D., Fabrizio, G. C., Sbordone, A., Amato, M., Cutrona, C., & Verrotti, A. (2016). Enuresis and Punishment: The Adverse Effects on Child Development and on Treatment. Urologia Internationalis, 97(4), 410-415. doi:10.1159/000447496

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