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8 year old SD wakes everyone up to go pee at night...

sunshinex's picture

I wanted to see what is normal vs. not normal for kids this age who have to pee at night. SD wakes up and yells for anyone who will listen. We've given her a nightlight and there is a small glowing light in the hallway and bathroom to help her turn on the lights there. We've told her multiple times to use them and not call out because it wakes her brother. 

If you're not familiar with my situation, I have a cosleeping 19 month old who typically wakes every 2 hours, so I really can't afford anymore sleep loss. When she yells, he typically wakes - and because he's not waking on his own (which is usually stirring and breastfeeding for 20 minutes than going back to sleep), he often fully wakes up and we have to spend a while rocking him again. 

It's so incredibly frustrating. I get being afraid of the dark. I used to be afraid of the dark too. I can vividly remember it. BUT I can also remember persevering through the fear and running to the lightswitch everytime I needed to. Yeah, it's scary, but you do it. Isn't this what every kid does? Similar to running in and out of the basement because you're scared but your mom asked you to get something lol 

Anyway... What can I do here? If we ignore her calling, she calls louder and louder - despite being told not to call out at night and just go pee. My husband works late nights so I'm on my own, which often means I have a sleeping toddler who will wake and cry if I leave bed to bring her to the bathroom but if I don't, she yells and wakes him up anyways. 

EvilStepMom1977's picture

I'd probably make it as unpleasant an experience as possible so she stops doing it.  Like if she calls to you, you go in and yell at her for waking the baby and take one of her toys and it's gone for a week. Sounds harsh but 8 years old is old enough to be able to retain information like "don't yell in the middle of the night".

Of course my skid is stupid AF and can't remember basics like "tell us if you've had an accident" or "don't smear shit on the wall".

So maybe I'll refrain from giving any step parenting advice.

ITB2012's picture

couple of ideas, some nice and some not so nice 

Wake her up to pee when you/your DH go to bed. Perhaps if she gets it all out she won’t wake up again. My parents did this with my brother. 

You go stay with the baby at a relatives or a hotel. Your DH sets alarms and spends a sleepless night yelling and waking her up to tell her he has to go to the bathroom. 


Bother her all through the day to interrupt her for things she doesn’t need to participate in (boring stuff). Then use that as a lesson. 

No liquids at least an hour before bed. 

More exercise so she’s tired. 

susanm's picture

There is only a certain amount of sleep deprivation a person can handle and having an 8 year old deliberately wake up someone who is already dealing with a 19 month old is just cruel.  I would put a blow-up mattress for her in the hallway outside the bathroom and she can sleep there until she agrees to stop waking the house up to be escorted to pee.  Not OK with her father?  Fine.   Just stop getting up when she yells.  Yes, she will wake up you and the baby but that doesn't mean you have to actually get up for her.  Warn her from now on you will be staying where you are and she can go the the bathroom by herself and mean it.  Eventually it will stop.

beebeel's picture

 I would cut out all liquids after dinner. Tell her she is far too old to need assistance to pee at night.  Crank the white noise and ignore her yells. It will probably suck for several days but you'll get there...

Now to your second 18 month old does not need to feed every 2 hours. Girl, you are going to start losing it if you haven't already. Breastfeeding for this long is friggin exhausting and when it affects both mom and kiddo's sleep as much as it is still? The benefits have fallen far short of the negatives. It's no longer the healthy thing to do. I made it to about 18 months, but at least by then night time feedings were done. You need to cut out the night feedings or you wont be sleeping right for years (and it's already going on two). Does he take a bottle? I gave my son a little water in his bottle at night (No milk!) and my kiddo was no longer interested in night feeding. He was eating loads of solids for dinner by this age, which significantly helped curb the night hunger. It wasn't about hunger toward the end anyhow, he was feeding to sooth and I'm not a friggin pacifier!! Lol

You have done a wonderful job with your son so far, but for the sake of you both, I think it's time to start weaning. I know how lack of sleep affected me toward the end of that marathon, and I would have murdered anything screaming in the night and disrupting my precious little sleep. 

tog redux's picture

Yeah, I know people are passionate about this co-sleeping/breastfeeding thing, but a 19-month-old not being able to soothe himself to sleep, or sleep through the night, doesn't seem developmentally healthy to me.

sunshinex's picture

I wasn't a good sleeper as a baby/child either. I don't even sleep through the night as an adult so I don't have expectations for him too. Sometimes he'll only wake 1-2 times. It's more common now that he's older. But he still has nights of waking frequently every 1-2 hours when teething or something. I'm ok with our sleep setup :-) 

tog redux's picture

OK -  but chances are good SD is genuinely anxious and needs some support around that issue, and she's not getting that.

I do get that your son is more important to you than SD, but if you've agreed to care for her when he's at work, then that includes dealing with nighttime anxiety - and yelling at her won't fix it.

sunshinex's picture

She is getting support. I don't yell at her. I tell her before bed not to yell and wake up the rest of the house. I have bought her a small LED lantern, multiple night lights to light the way from her bedroom to the bathroom (which is actually right beside her room) and done test drills with her to practice waking up, turning on her lantern, and walking to the bathroom. She can turn her bedroom, the hallway, and the bathroom light on as needed because she nightlights are positioned so she can see the switches. 

This isn't a situation of me not liking her or her not being important to me. She IS important to me. But it is absolutely exhausting to have her waking the 19 month old up twice a night with yelling because then he jolts awake and cries so I have to physically get up, rock him for 20 minutes, and redo the transfer to bed - as opposed to his natural wakeups where he stirs, breastfeeds, and goes back to sleep. I can often sleep through those wakeups. 

If she got out of bed, turned on her lantern, and came to my room (which is right beside the bathroom) and wanted me to walk her there, it would be a different story. I've even told her that. I would happily get up and walk her there because my 19 month old would sleep through it. But by the time she's yelled enough for me to hear her, he's awake - I can't exactly leave him crying in bed while I take her there. 

tog redux's picture

Well - you COULD leave him crying in bed for 5 minutes, but it is clear that you won't.

If it were me, I would limit liquids before bed, leave her light on all night, talk to her about whatever her fears are and help her confront them, and then offer her a reward for so many nights that she goes to the bathroom without waking me up. Then keep working at that. First night, she might need a reward the very next day.

Anxiety at night is a common thing for kids, and all these posts about scaring her or making her miserable, and she just wants attention, blah blah are not the right approach. (Unless you do truly feel she is manipulating and attention-seeking, though not many kids wake up in the middle of the night to do that).


sunshinex's picture

Thank you. I like the idea of a reward for multiple nights of going alone. 

And I know anxiety is normal. I am totally understanding of nighttime issues - hence cosleeping with my son because I know he sleeps better with me nearby lol. I also don't think scaring her or making her miserable is the right approach - hence why I've tried all sorts of other options and I don't yell at her about it. I'm trying to sort out a way to fix it without minimizing or ignoring her needs. 

susanm's picture

If you are a problem sleeper then you know how much it plays hell on your life.  I am as well.  My strong suggestion would be that you do major research on sleep training and how you can help him break the cycle so that he can not have this hanging over his head like we do.  Much of it is genetic but it can be moderated if a parent is willing to put in the work.  You would be doing him a huge favor if he could be trained to sleep normally.

sunshinex's picture

I do not agree with sleep training. This post isn't about my son or his sleep schedule but I do appreciate the concern! <3 

beebeel's picture

I'm sure it's hard to hear, because, like me, you read everything on the internet and in the best sellers list on how to be a good mom. "Good moms" do this, not that, and they are willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of the withered up corpses of all the other good mommy's if they love their kid, right? Take about 95 percent of what you read and fucking ignore it. Seriously. Listen to your gut and pay attention to your kid and the signs around you and you will be fine. He won't be emotionally scarred for life if you don't breastfeed until 4 and cosleep until 10. Wink

I had to do a hybrid of methods to get my problem sleeper sleeping through the night. He didn't until he was 2.5. I am fairly certain it took that long because I breastfed him for so long. I regret not weaning him sooner. And I had to let him cry sometimes. Had to. I was an unhealthy, grumpy, inpatient mommy. No bueno. He was an unhealthy, grumpy, sleepy, uncooperative monster. No mas!

This thread is about sleep, right? If you and the boy are waking up an average of four to six times every night on a regular basis, it is not healthy, and it will cause other problems (more napping during the day, which makes sleeping at night harder and you get stuck in a cycle). 

The other side effect of prolonged sleep loss is the unforgiving urge to leave your stepkid in the woods for a nice family of wolves to raise. My skids were teens and not nearly so needy as yours. I'm not saying you need to change your routine to appease the skid, but huge benefit to you in getting a full 8 hours of sleep is no longer having to fight those urges. Wink

tog redux's picture

In fact, he might be scarred for life if you DO breastfeed until 4 and co-sleep until 10.

I'm not a parent, I'll own that - but I don't really understand how NOT teaching kids to sleep on their own is good for anybody. 

sunshinex's picture

Who said I planned on breastfeeding until 4 and cosleeping until 10? He is 19 months old. He will be weaned by 2 and likely in his own bed shortly after. I don't know why so many assumptions are being made here lol. 

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

Ignore them. My DD breastfed until the age of two. Not lots toward the end but she decided to wean. Food was more interesting. I didn’t force her to wean.

 I regret only breastfeeding my DS for one year. You know what’s right. Trust your instincts.

sunshinex's picture

And I must say... I am not really looking for him to sleep through the night. As I mentioned, I can sleep through his wakeups because he stirs and breastfeeds than goes back to sleep. He is super happy and healthy. He's never grumpy or tired during the day. In fact, he takes one 2 hour nap and goes to bed at 8pm without much fight. I am not grumpy or tired during the day (most of the time) either. Our sleep situation is fine by me! 

susanm's picture

I meant no offense and I apologize that I included your son's sleep in the conversation.

sunshinex's picture

The problem is, if my husband is home/off work, he will go to her when she yells because if no one goes to her, she purposely pees the bed! We know she does it on purpose because she'll say "no one answered me and I was too scared to go to the bathroom" like she literally pisses herself then my husband has to steam clean her mattress :/ 

ITB2012's picture

maybe a walkie talkie for her and your DH. Then she doesn’t yell and he can go take care of it. 

Shes scared of something. Maybe you need to find out what. Dumb stuff could work here, like a magic blanket that makes her invisible, magic monster glitter to throw in the toilet, a smaller toilet seat she can flip down if she’s scared of falling in. Find out why she won’t go by herself. 

beebeel's picture

Nope. She should be cleaning it. (Sure DH will probably have to clean it again but she needs to take responsibility and hopefully learn not to piss the bed). He should have her strip the bedding and put it in the washer. She can steam clean the mattress as best she can and after dad's gone over it again, she can put clean sheets and blankets on her bed. It won't be such any easy choice for her to wet the bed if she's the one doing the work.

didn&#039;tsignupforapunk's picture

That's the time when you tell her, "if you're going to pee the bed like a baby, you're going to wear a diaper like a baby."

shoelaces40's picture

I hate to jump on the negative side, but I think an 8yo doing such things is definitely misbehavior. She sounds to be manipulating/controlling you and her father. UNLESS she has a real bladder issue diagnosed by the doctor, is a UTI possible - or osmething that causes an 8yo to wet the bed? I wonder if she is doing it for extra attention or honestly to just bug you. I had a similar issue but my fiance's daughter was younger. It was no fun but I made him get up and put her back in her bed without saying a word every single night. His daughter would get up to ask for water.. no reason.. it stopped. It took about a month. Also, I see judgment for co sleeping/bf your 19month old. I did the same, my DD was a little after 2 when she stopped and she chose to stop, for the most part. Whatever works for you! <3 

EvilStepMom1977's picture

Oh hell no. What the actual fuck?  My step has a small bladder and legit thinks that she can will herself out of wetting the bed because it's embarrassing to be nine and need to wear a pull up.  I get it.  But if I found out she was conscious and wetting the bed, I'd legit come after her with a wire hanger.  She'd then actually know what it feels like to be scared 

For fuck sake.  What is wrong with these kids?

Since you're able to parent her without your spouse around, I would let loose.  

Make her sleep on the bathroom floor.  I'm completely serious.

If a fecking 8 year old can't get up and walk to the bathroom, have her sleep in the tub.

sunshinex's picture

It's so frustrating. When DH finds her bed wet the next day, he asks what happened and she'll say "I called and no one came and I was too afraid to go to the bathroom." So she consiously does it. She wakes and pisses herself instead of getting up, turning on the light, and using the toilet. It's gross. And I am not a complete monster - she has a lantern and there are night lights all over to see the lightswitches. I get being scared but holy crap.. I'd take the 2 seconds of fear to run to the lightswitch over sitting in my own urine all night! 

shoelaces40's picture

I think that that's so unacceptable and shouldn't be tolerated by your DH. I'm sorry that you have to go through this and I'm sorry that he thinks that is ok behavior. I would set a higher expectation. Since you are trying to stay positive, what about positive reinforcement? One thing we used to do at the behavioral unit, in a hospital for children, is have a jar and fill the jar with something. Once the jar was full then the child would get to choose a special activity. We often used M&M's to fill the jar. during winter, cotton balls - etc. You could have her earn a piece to put in the jar for every time she does not pee the bed... I am not a fan of positive reinforcement for misbehavior because it sets the expectation for the child low, in my opinion. I would rather take something away when the child breaks the "rule." BUT it has worked in my past for all kinds of things and may be worth a try if you are out of ideas. 

sunshinex's picture

DH isn't happy about it either. He gets her to help clean up the mess but what else can he really do? It's not tolerated, but you can't exactly stop it from happening. It's a choice SHE makes. He even ignores her a lot of the time when she yells - often only going in because the baby is waking and i'm getting angry. 

momjeans's picture

A couple of potential solutions:

- Cut off liquids 2-3 hours before bed. Have her use the bathroom before getting into bed. Put a waterproof mattress pad on her bed, under the fitted sheet. This is literally all the things you (general “you”) do when you’re potting training a young child. 

- Lights. Nightlights in the hallway and bathroom. A flashlight or little portable LED lamp next to her bed that she can use when she wakes up and feels the need to go to the bathroom. A nice long talk why making a conscious decision to sit there and urinate in her bed is NOT OKAY, just because someone hasn’t hopped out of bed to take her. This conversation needs to be had over and over and over again with her until it sinks in. 

Shaming is never a healthy option. Don’t be that person. It could make matters worse for you - and her.

ndc's picture

Is it the trip to the bathroom that's the problem, or is she looking for attention? If the former, I'd stick a porta-potty in her room.  

raindrop's picture

I’m not a SM anymore (thank God), but when my skids behaved like this when they were too old for this type of attention seeking behavior, I’d first have a nice 1:1 chat with them if it were an ongoing thing. If it happened again after our chat, I’d get the bitch look and march right in to where they were and I’d sternly, very sternly, remind them of our nice conversation before this incident. And then I’d tell them to KNOCK IT OFF NOW and FOREVER or you will never see your XBox again, got it?  Worked like a charm every time :)) 

notarelative's picture

You can't control what happens when dad is home. But, you can control what happens when you are alone with her.

Even if SD has no medical problems, treat as if she has. No yelling at her. Just lay out the rules..These are followed until she has X number of dry days. If problems reoccurring they are repeated.

Restricted liquids after dinner

Waterproof cover for bed with chucks under sheet if needed

Pullups -- they come in all sizes

SD strips bed. Puts wet items in basket. Carries basket to washer. Does wash under dad's supervision. Remakes bed.

No comments.about what happened. Just follow the procedure.

Oh, almost forgot - no sleeping at friend's house or friend sleeping here until you are consistently dry. 

Ignore the yelling, have her follow the procedure, and the yelling (at least) should dissipate (at least on your time).


secret's picture

Put a potty in her room. My grandmother had a old fashion bathroom bucket in her room so she didn't have to go down the stairs at night...

Then make HER empty it and clean it out.

lieutenant_dad's picture

If this is just attention-seeking, put her pillow and blanket on the floor of the bathroom and tell her she can sleep next to the potty because you all won't be woken up every time she wants attention and won't go to the bathroom. Stupid games win you stupid prizes.

If this is a legitimate fear or anxiety, talk to her pediatrician about ways to alleviate it that you haven't tried. She could be having night terrors or sleep paralysis where she is seeing something in her room and is too afraid to leave (and may be so scared she is peeing the bed and not meaning to because she physically can't move).

If you have a baby monitor with a camera, put it in her room and tell her it's there. Tell her she doesn't need to scream, she can ask quietly for help. Plus, you can see her when she wakes up and see if she is purposefully being obtuse or if she was struggling, like she was having lucid nightmares (those SUCK) with sleep paralysis.

This May also stem from jealousy. You, Dad, and baby brother get to snuggle together in one room while she is stuck by herself in the rest of the house. She may feel very exposed, and if she has an overactive imagination, be very scared that Daddy can't protect her because she's too far away if a monster comes, someone breaks in, the house burns down, etc. If it's jealousy or anxiety related to being the one "left alone", you may want to consider putting an end to co-sleeping sooner rather than later.

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

She is way too old for such infantile behavior. She is not your problem nor responsibility. Ignore her yelling; it will wake your son but you can soothe him.

Let her keep yelling; eventually she will learn she will not garner attention for bad-stupid behavior.

My mother would have beat my ass if I woke her up without a good reason. By your stepdemon’s age I was fixing my own breakfast sometimes and very quietly watching cartoons. I did NOT bother my mother without a very good reason.

I didn’t like the dark but there’s these amazing inventions called light switches.

Thumper's picture

Why cant she go to the potty by herself?

'SD, you know if you have to go potty at any time, day OR Night---just go use the potty, ok? You and I will go pick out night lights to use. Next time no yelling---just use the potty and wash your hands. OK?


is it odd behavior. Hard to say. How long has she been doing this? 1month..2 year?

Thankfully she is not going in bed.


Ispofacto's picture

I was afraid of the dark as a kid, but I was more afraid of my mom.  All kids were in our generation.  Kids aren't afraid of adults anymore.

Kids don't have to force themselves to do anything they don't "like".


juststressedbeyondbelief's picture

Jesus. You said it better than anyone else ever could.

Over 5 years old? In the house during the day with no chores to do?

Expect a whopping. Get outside. Enjoy nature. Mom and Dad are having Mom and Dad time in the house.

That doctrine produced 3/3 master's degrees, 3 kids with in tact families, and no mental issues.

It's very different now.

sunshinex's picture

This is so true. The problem is, neither DH and I agree with spanking. But honestly, aside from getting upset with her/taking things away, what else can we do? I also don't believe in using rewards to improve misbehaviour. But this kid man... Her room is a pigsty that she simply doesn't clean. We sent her to her room EVERY DAY after school to clean it and she just chooses not to. She's lost toys, lost priveledges, she's at the point where she doesn't have much else to lose before we take everything in her room away - but then she's kind of won, hasn't she? She gets to go back to normal without having to clean her room. 

The bathroom thing is part of a bigger issue, I guess. SD doesn't respond to any sort of consequences. 

Evil3's picture

IMHO, it sounds like your SD is winning a power struggle. She's figured out that if she tells you or your DH that she wet the bed because no one answered her, then she's learned that one of you will go running to try to stop her from wetting the bed. Given some of you other posts, I'm more inclined to think it's a power play rather than genuine sleep paralysis or fear, but I apologize if I'm guessing wrong. Also, keep in mind how bitter I am about my SD. LOL

Anyway, my own DD19 was the worst sleeper ever. She couldn't get to sleep, she couldn't stay asleep and she seemed to think I was so magical that I could do something to get her to sleep if she kept waking me. I recognized early on that she was a dichotomous thinker, so I'd have to teach her self soothing techniques based on challening the black and white interpretations since I wouldn't be able to live in her head. She had to learn her own inner work. There are things you can teach a child as young as 8 when it comes to self soothing for anxiety. For my DD, I had her choose a soothing item. We did this during the day. She was about 5. She was madly in love with a book, "My First 1000 Words in French." She immediately chose that, so I told DD that if she gets up to get her book, which should be kept near by, she can sit quietly in bed and look at it. It worked like a charm. She would pass out within minutes after pulling her book out. It kind of served as Pavlov's response. DD would get the book and it would remind her that it was comfort time and she'd calm right down. She never really woke DH or I up on a nightly basis anymore. Of course, there were the bad nightmares or being sick, but she managed to get through the majority of nights with that book. Today, DD is 19 and speaks French. LOL! So, that comfort item has paid off. Anyway, something like that might be helpful, because if you give your SD the choice of her own comfort item, it empowers her and she'll learn that she's perfectly capable of looking after herself or having choice or power. However, if she's yelling to wake people for attention, then IMHO, it's consequence time.