Bedwetting around Sinterklaas and Christmas is often caused by stress. How do we keep the festive season festive? ‘We see a spike in December when it comes to problems with falling asleep and staying asleep’ says Clarisse van Gorkom, orthopedagogue at the Mesos Medical Center in Utrecht. According to her, it often occurs during the festive season that tension that is supposed to be fun completely gets out of hand. Children do not eat as well, pay less attention at school, or get headaches. According to her, the fact that it is a long period between the autumn and Christmas holidays means that many children are already tired. ‘This makes the fuse a little shorter and children become more irritated or even aggressive.’
Tension around setting out milk and cookies for Santa Claus and the uncertainty of which presents Saint Nick will provide were also part of the problem. But in recent years, the tensions have increased. Many schools are spending more and more time and effort on the festive season: not only does Santa come to visit, there is often also a Christmas dinner. Sports and recreational clubs organize performances around Christmas and usually invite Santa Claus as well. The Christmas ornaments go up earlier and earlier and weeks before Santa Claus is scheduled to appear, colorful leaflets begin arriving in the mailbox that highlight the latest toys. And once Santa Claus is getting closer and closer, television and internet news keeps increasing the tension even higher.
In many schools, parents of toddlers who turn 4 in December or January are discouraged from letting their child start working on bedwetting in December. The atmosphere is so tense, meaning that these recent toddlers would be wrapped up in a swirl of hysteria.
And it is not just more stress for those who still believe in Santa or Sinterklaas, this time can also increase tensions for older children. Unfortunately, bedwetting around the December month is more common In the Netherlands, groups 7 10-11-year olds) and 8 (11-12) is often made with homemade gifts called ‘surprises.’ Some parents work on a wonderful surprise with their child for five evenings leading up to the big day, choosing a gift that perfectly suits their classmate. That means it can quite disappointing if your child receives an eraser and a bag of licorice that is held together by old newspapers and tape. On the other hand, there is the risk is that it will become some type of ‘contest’ Parents do not want to be left behind and often go all out for such a surprise. But then the whole concept becomes something for the parents instead of for the children.
This is also increasingly being reported at the Christmas dinner, something most schools host nowadays. This is supposed to be a school activity, but it is increasingly becoming a parent project. They then look at their child, eyes filled with emotion, as their children are wearing outfits that are seamlessly copied from H&M’s ads. These parents often consider it amazing to see their children in their angelic, pristine clothes. But you may wonder if the situation is so great for the children themselves.
The December stress that parents experience themselves can also have a depressing influence on their children. For example, if parents want to serve a perfect Christmas dinner to their parents or in-laws and spend hours in the kitchen on Christmas. Arguing is not allowed on a day like this (peace on earth!), but children get bored, meaning tensions quickly rise above boiling point. A small poll in our surroundings shows that many people find the business in this period uncomfortable. A few people even escape the family obligations completely and leave for their vacation home for this very reason.
Children of divorced parents are often pulled in both directions during the holidays. Oftentimes a solution is hammered out, something like: Christmas week at Mom’s, but Boxing Day with Dad. Being pushed back and forth, meaning neither parent feels slighted, can be quite stressful for children. Moreover, Sinterklaas is usually celebrated twice as well. Bedwetting around Saint Nicholas and Christmas is becoming more and more of a problem because of that.
December is a disaster
For children in need of structure, December is a disaster, says Madelon Boersma, single mother of an 8-year-old son with ADHD and president of the OVAK, the association for parents of children with ADHD in the Rijnmond region. I’m always happy when January rolls around.’ When her son was younger, he started bedwetting during the Christmas period, even though he had been potty-trained for ages. He became afraid of all kinds of things in his room or thought, for example, that the house would burn down. He also started eating and sleeping poorly and suffered from stress headaches. Bedwetting around Saint Nicholas and Christmas is a common problem.
Reduce bedwetting around Saint Nicholas and Christmas? Here we have 12 tips for you
- Create a calendar with the highlights so children can see how much longer
- Intercept the toy brochures and only browse through them together during relaxed moments
- Make agreements about how often to leave out milk and cookies for Santa
- Make the festivities more predictable. Reveal something about the presents for example
- Read stories about the meaning of the celebration
- Find out what will happen at school so that the child can be prepared for it.
- Take the time to discuss the day with your child
- Don’t make Santa into some to fear
- Doing the shopping on time prevents stress for the parents
- Try to limit the number of festivities at home and with others
- Follow the golden rule: less is more
- Use aids so that bedwetting can be quickly remedied. Look here for all brands