15 responses to “Why We Should Stop Suspending Preschoolers for Potty Accidents”

  1. dd

    Preschools are often not set up to change diapers because of the logistics issues (it’s not as if they can change diapers like we do at home) – there’s licensing requirements, training, rubber gloves and other protective gear. There are definitely certain procedures they have to follow in changing diapers. I’m OK with the preschools stipulations. Without proper procedures, and training in place, health concerns become an issue. Toilet training was done by age 2 back in the 1960s, and there’s no reason why a child can’t be out of diapers by then from a readiness point of view. It’s all about disposable diapers nowadays, and convenience. Remember, the parents who are complaining – they are 1 parent compared to the other 11 that seem to have no issues. JMHO

  2. Maggie

    This also strikes a chord with me. My son is almost 3.5 and is fully potty trained at home. He, for some unknown reason, has had issues at his new preschool with poop accidents (about 1 per week). I wish our school would extend a little more grace about the situation because we are literally doing everything we can – including spending hundreds of dollars per week with a child behavioral therapist, giving rewards for good days, doing play exercises that reinforce good behavior. I can honestly say it is the most frustrating thing I have ever been through – I have constant anxiety at work that I am going to get a call from school to pick him up. Now I am wishing I had left him at his old school that was more flexible on this issue because I would be living a much less stressful life and he would probably be learning the same things.

    And to the woman who made the comment that most parents who work “do not need to”, please do not pass judgment on other parent choices. I am a better mom because I work. I paid $100k out of my own pocket for grad school and am an executive and officer at my company. I have been very successful and make an exceptionally good living and my children (especially my school age daughter) are proud that mommy is so good at her job. I spend every waking moment away from work with my kids (we never even take vacations without our kids) and they are loved completely. I would never think less of a mom who stayed home and I wish these mommy wars would stop. Parenting is hard enough without that BS.

  3. Marie

    OMG, I’d so report that nurse even threaten the stupid school with a lawyer. My daughter is gifted, which means she’s smarter than most kids her own age and advanced in several areas, accept potty land. Daycares and preschools are not set up to accommodate gifted kids. Gifted kids are often advanced in several areas and behind in others. I introduced the potty when she was 2 and encourage with candy and rewards, brought her in the bathroom with me, prompted, pleaded, begged, bribed. She knows what’s easiest, what’s most convenient. Diaper. She’s now 3.5. we had a set back when we moved over a period of 2 months and to top it off she was attacked by a dog. Most of the time she’s so engrossed in a project she’s unaware that she just peed. Or denies that there’s a large poop in her diaper. She knows things at the store cost money and we offer her quarters for her piggy bank if she just tells us when she’s peed. Out of no where she peed in the potty unprompted, but that was a fluke. If you remind her too much about whether or not she needs to go she starts to withold urine and stool. Especially if she’s wearing regular underpants. It’s like she’s potty phobic. My daughter can write you a song, paint you a picture, operate a computer or smart phone, even explain the basic working of the solar system. But peepee or poop in the toilet? No way. Just remember, you’re as smart as any daycare. You can provide an even better learning environment at home. So how does it work though if you have to work and need Childcare? What about a good nanny to work one on one with them about potty training? I was punished very harshly over what was a medical condition which caused me to be a late trainer. I was shamed and beaten and went most of my life with undiagnosed IBS. So forgive me if I’m not about to put the screws in on our little genius about her reluctance to give the potty try. I think she has a condition where she doesn’t know when she has to pee. In the hospital she had 500ml in her bladder. When she stood up, gravity finally made her go. Try asking a pediatric ion about this habit and they shrug. But she’s been holding all her pee all day since she was 2. It’s gotten a little better. I got bigger things on my plate than some stupid preK programs deadline. Even if my daughters sti wearing diapers or a colostomy bag when she’s. an adult, she’ll probably be an astrophysasist who invents pants that recycle waste apon immediate soiling. See you in the future baby!

  4. Amanda

    This strikes a personal note. My son (3 and 5 months) was just dismissed from his nursery school two weeks ago for having too many accidents (he had 2 in a week, both while napping). He had some sporadically through November and December as well. Their rule is 3 in a week and you are out. He is the youngest in his class and is perfectly potty trained at home and everywhere else since the middle of June. I think they play so hard that by nap time he is exhausted and just sleeps through it. I would understand if he was going during class time or on the playground, but I don’t see how a little kid can control themselves during naps, at least not 100%. I guess it is their prerogative though, it clearly states in their contract that every child has to be potty trained, even through nap time. He is allowed to go back on Monday, after the two weeks (accident free so far at his old daycare) to try again, but I’m afraid if he has one more accident he will be out for good. Now I am scrambling to find a program that is affordable, near my house, doesn’t set rules about potty training, and has similar hours since my 5-year-old daughter is in pre-K at the aforementioned nursery school (and she didn’t have the same nap issues). The worst part is that my son feels like he was bad and was “kicked out” of nursery school. He misses the friends he made in the last 6 months. I guess I learned my lesson though, it’s not worth the stress if there is any question about them being potty trained.

    1. Joan

      This strikes a chord, My daughter started pre-school in January, she had one accident the second day, and was fine for about six weeks. She recently pooped in her pants 3 days in a row. The school leave her standing in her poop in the Nurses office until I come into clean her, they say one more accident and she is suspended for two weeks. She is potty trained at home and I can not remember the last time she pooped in her pants, she rarely has a peeing accident. Also to add to my misery, the School Nurse purposely mocked myself and my daughter the other day, as we were walking in, she shouted at me in front of other parents “Hi, I see you have spare clothes today, hope you don’t need them. ” We did not have spare clothes with us, I called the school to complain and did not receive an apology. My daughter loves school. Any advice how to handle this? Thanks,

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  6. Heather Mundell

    My kids are older now, but I chose a preschool for them that accepted kids in diapers, because it was an option and because I didn’t want the stress. My older daughter was 3 when her sister was born, which was 3 months before preschool was to start, and really I just couldn’t freak out about potty training at that time.

    As it happened my younger daughter was UNUSUALLY old to become potty trained, and it was a good thing I had her in a preschool that was willing to work with that. Let’s just say I was biting my fingernails when she started kindergarten. (Yes, it was A Thing with her).

    She’s a 4th grader now and I’m proud to say hasn’t had an accident in years…:-)

    I know we all were trained by the time we were 2, and really I did everything I could think of and withstand to get my kids trained before they were 3, without success.

    I read all the books, I cajoled, I let them go naked, I bribed, I ignored it and just let them be, I withheld the pull-ups, I made it into a game, I tried the magic 3 days until you’re trained solution, I stayed at home, I modeled how it’s done. Etc! Finally I sought professional advice from a children’s therapist regarding my younger one and what I could do (her answer: let her be).

  7. Taryn

    My son did not want to be potty trained(I started informally when he turned 2.) He knew what to do, he knew when to do it, he knew how to do it, he just wouldn’t most of the time. I made sure when he started preschool they’d be understanding about this. I told them he knew all the mechanics he was just kind of hit-or-miss(and more miss than hit.) They said they’d be willing to let him be in the preschool program but would move him down a class to the older 2’s if he didn’t progress.

    I got lucky, he was difficult to train but was trained at school months before he was trained at home. He did have a major setback in Nov(he hadn’t even been 3 for 2 months) after he ended up with pneumococcal pneumonia. He was so sick he ended up back in diapers until he recovered. His first day back he had several accidents. His teacher wasn’t thrilled since we were essentially back to square one, but he was back to it in less than a week.

    Like I said it took months for him to be trained at home while it took less than a month at school. One day he just decided he wanted to be trained at home and that was that.

    I also think it might also have to do with what kind of accidents they are having. If a child is pooping his pants all the time it is a lot different from a child simply wetting his pants. I was lucky and can count the number of times my son had a poop accident on less than one hand and he never had one at school.

    Honestly I had a bigger problem from my ped for him not being trained at 3 than the school. I’m sorry but he was more than happy to sit in wet underwear so putting him in underwear and letting him have one accident and he’d be trained wasn’t going to work, and it didn’t. If it was that easy no one would have potty training issues.

  8. Erin

    Disclaimer: Most of my 5 kids were a huge pain to train and half still wet the bed.

    What is missing from the excerpt of this story is the details. I have great sympathy for a parent who has to work (though fewer need to than they think) and has a difficult-to-train child. But you have to see it from the school’s point of few. As a school, they have a curriculum and a reputation to maintain, not to mention cleanliness standards (and I personally know VA is very strict). The school’s policy states the max number of accidents is 8 per month, with stipulations for a maximum of 3 a week or once per week for 3 straight weeks. At one point it says after a couple months of struggle and then some some retraining, they put this child back in class and it took only “a few days” to rack up 5 more accidents.

    Would you want to send your child to a school where you knew the story-time rug had been urinated (or worse) on 5 times in the last month? Afterall, you pay a lot for tuition and put a lot of effort into making sure YOUR child can meet the standard, and then you hear another child is regularly soiling herself beyond the limits- would you you complain? Would you threaten to take your child elsewhere?

    At some point the school has to let her go for the sake of the other children and its business. They reached that point, nothing more.

  9. The Mommy

    I think that if you’re going to ACCEPT children who are 3 (regardless of whether they are FULLY trained or not) you need to be willing (and frankly, expected) to make exceptions for “accidents”. Really? “Warned enough”? How exactly do you determine THAT? It’s a bodily function – one that a 3 year old cannot always control. What if she puked too many times? Would they have to suspend her for THAT?

    I know old-school folks think we should potty train at an earlier age but I don’t even START until they’re 3…and we’re done in less than 1 week (at least with the “easy” stuff). “Rules are rules” is a ridiculous statement when it comes to small children. You can make all of the rules you want but sometimes common sense should prevail. Common sense should tell a principal not to suspend a preschool-age child for anything, especially not this.

  10. Jennifer

    My oldest daughter practically self-trained at age 2 1/2, my youngest wanted nothing to do with it. She had potty incidents until she was 3 1/2. Her pre-school was VERY supportive.

    One thing to remember is that there is so much presure and waiting lists for pre-schools these days that a child who is slower to take to the toliet could miss out in so many ways.

    This same daughter is now feeling pressure in Kindergarten because she does not yet read at a 1st grade level. We are 5 months in, and she reading at about a .8 level. This is perfectly fine as we still have 5 month left of school, but for some reason she now thinks she’s not going to get to go to 1st grade because I didn’t do Site Word flash cards rather than playdough when she was 3.

    I think we Americans are going a little crazy with pushing our young kids.

  11. Jennifer Fink

    I think the story made headlines because most ppl instinctively understand that suspending a 3-yr-old from anything for potty accidents is ridiculous. 3 yr olds have potty accidents. At 3, potty accidents are perfectly developmentally appropriate. So the story, to me, highlights the fact that maybe we’re expecting too much too soon of our kids. Why do we place our children in an environment at age 3 where it’s not OK to act like a 3-yr-old?

  12. Christine P Stewart

    When I taught Preschool in the late 1980s, we did NOT accept kids in Preschool unless they were 2.9 years old and FULLY potty trained.
    We started training the Toddler 2 classroom kids at 15-18 months so they were rready to move up the Preschool at 2.9.
    We had NO problems.
    Today’s Moms wait too long to start training, IMHO!

  13. Tonya Staab

    I cross my fingers and say a few prayers every single morning before my son goes to preschool that it an accident free few hours. He was fully potty trained by the time he started preschool at age 3 but a few months ago things took a sudden turn and he has seen numerous specialists regularly about gastrointestinal issues that are yet to be diagnosed. At home, he can have accidents up to 10 times a day. So far though he’s managed to get through preschool this year without a single one. I’m terrified that he would be asked to leave if he were to start having them at school, because it is something medical that is currently out of our hands. I’m so glad you wrote this post. Thanks Jen.

  14. Kristen

    Preschool is optional. You may hope that your child is potty trained by the time they go but if they are not, it may be time to seek alternate options. This was December. Accidents in September and October are one thing. I don’t care how much she pays a month. There are plenty of preschools (and daycares) in Arlington that don’t require potty training. Rules are rules and this would require additional certification to change diapers.

    These stories frustrate me because they only tell a small part (or one side) of the story. Yes, she had to pay for December but school is out for the holiday for half of December. The mother and daughter were “escorted” out? Come on.

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