I was lucky, I suppose. Both of my boys finished potty training (mostly, sorta) about three months before they turned three. By the time preschool started, they were able to stay dry during the three hours they were in school.
Zoe Rosso’s mom wasn’t so lucky. According to the Washington Post, three-year-old Zoe was suspended from her preschool in December for having too many potty accidents. Reports the Post:
“The principal escorted Zoe and her mother, Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso, from the building on Dec. 3. ‘The principal told me that Zoe had had enough chances,’ Rosso said. ‘That seemed absurd to me. It came as a total shock.’
Well, it really shouldn’t have been a shock, because the Arlington Public Schools’ Montessori Preschool’s application clearly states: “All children must be toilet trained. (No Pull-Ups).”
Though I’m not certain of Virginia’s laws, preschools in some states must maintain a daycare license to change dirty diapers or Pull-Ups. Other preschools simply don’t want to deal with the mess of potty accidents.
But here’s the thing: Even potty trained kids have accidents. Sometimes, three-year-olds get so caught up in the excitement of school, they miss the “I gotta go pee” cues that the rest of us long-time potty trained folks never miss. And sometimes, stress makes them regress. It’s actually very common. But rules are rules, right?
Well, maybe Zoe’s mom has a point. After paying a reported $835 for a month’s tuition while her daughter was suspended from school, and missing out on work, she thinks maybe it’s time that the nation’s preschools, or at least Arlington, Virginia’s schools, rethink their potty policies. Given what I know about today’s potty training kids, I think she’s right.
What’s more, punishment doesn’t make kids potty train.
Every summer, I hear from panicked would-be potty trainers on the Pull-Ups Facebook page where I give advice as one of their long-time Pull-Ups Potty Training Partners. These parents want to know how they can get their little ones to potty train before preschool starts in the fall.
I tell them that potty training is the most labor intensive of your kid’s milestones (until they learn to drive, I suppose), but that the onus isn’t so much on Mom and Dad as it is on the child.
Like I said in Stop Second-Guessing Yourself — The Preschool Years: “We moms all know of stubborn preschoolers who have their own timetables for potty training. Meanwhile, your mother is reminding you that she had you and your brother trained by fourteen months, and the preschool registration deadline is looming.”
So we parents sometimes sign up our kids for preschool not really knowing whether or not they’ll be to potty trained, because frankly, every child trains differently. (I’d signed mine up in February and crossed my fingers until the fall.) Some get it done in a few days. Some linger — and have accidents at school.
I feel for Zoe and her mom. I feel for the preschool officials, too. Maybe the story made the news because so many people feel for them, too. Though most kids potty train by age three, not all of them do. Maybe we need to take a look at that preschool-potty deadline, and stop suspending preschoolers for potty accidents.
What do you think? Who was right, who was wrong and who’s up to their elbows in pee these days?
NOTE: If you’re about to cross your fingers and sign up your not-yet-potty-trained child for preschool, drop by Pull-Ups.com to read my article “4 Steps for Potty Training Before Preschool.” Both of my books, Stop Second-Guessing Yourself – The Toddler Years and — The Preschool Years delve into all things potty at length. If you need some personal attention, drop by the Pull-Ups Facebook Page for advice from me and the other Potty Training Partners. Someone’s on every week there.
Full disclosure: Pull-Ups didn’t pay me to write this blog, but I have been working with them since 2005, and so it made sense to mention them. Also, they have great resources for potty training parents, and I’m glad to be a part of them.