Shame on this daycare center for its toileting policy

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  September 14, 2011 06:00 AM

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Hi Barbara,

I'm hoping you can point me to your column about kids who are late to potty train. My daughter turned 3 in May and is still in Pull Ups. I have tried to not make this a power struggle and let her go at her own pace, but I am getting a lot of pressure from her daycare. She was not allowed to move up into the next preschool room and her teachers tell me she is the oldest girl they've ever seen who isn't potty trained.

Thank you,
From: MC, Wakefield

Dear MC,

Here's the column. I gotta say, it bothers me that daycare wouldn't move her ahead; frankly, the pressure of being with her age-mates who are in underwear might just have done the trick, plus keeping her with kids she likely identifies as "babies" feels really punitive and shaming to me. I know daycare can't be bothered with changing diapers after a point, but that isn't even what you're talking about. Also, it is up to the individual center to set its own policy regarding toileting. Most centers are flexible. Yours obviously is not.

Since she is almost 3 1/2, I have several thoughts for you:

1. Have you talked with your pediatrician? Before you go any further, rule out the possibility of constipation or any other medical issue.

2. Pull-ups may be the problem; they satisfy a child's need for feeling grown-up without the consequences of underwear. If she meets pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton's seven signs of readiness, I'd consider shopping for big girl underpants and making the switch. Yeah, she might have an accident or two. Big deal.

3. Lastly, assuming you've ruled out a medical or developmental problem, don't worry and stay the course. She'll get there.

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7 comments so far...
  1. She is certainly NOT the oldest they have ever seen not toilet trained. They are simply putting pressure on you. Many many many children of the same age are not potty trained or at least completely potty trained. Besides, I believe both you and the daycare need to work TOGETHER. Sit down with them and come up with a plan. They need to be on board and while yes, it is your responsibility as a parent to potty train, they must work with you. Otherwise, what are you paying them for? Sorry but daycares are too expensive as it is. This should be something they do. This is rather obvious advice but try to make training exciting. Something that is rewarding for her and fun. There are many wonderful ideas online (pampers.com etc) that can give you ideas. Make it so it is your child's decision. They like to have some control over things. Perfect opportunity. Maybe if you put underwear on under the Pull-Up it will help her decide that she doesn't want the mess on her skin and it may help her. A Pull up is nothing more than a diaper.

    Posted by j September 14, 11 07:20 AM
  1. To say daycare "can't be bothered" is to accuse the people of being lazy and selfish, as opposed to considering that there may be a difference of opinion. And if the next age group is in a different room, it may not be designed with diaper changing facilities, etc. There are actually regulations about restrooms, privacy, all kinds of things that come into play about diapering and toileting.

    Do parents train their kids because they "can't be bothered" or because it's the normal thing to do? Do they teach their kids to feed themselves because they "can't be bothered" or because it's the normal thing to do? Same here--this kid may be on one end of the curve, but at three and a half it is definitely time to get this ball rolling, barring some kind of disability that needs extra time or attention.

    Posted by di September 14, 11 10:47 AM
  1. While I understand this mother's frustration, she should realize that pull-ups ARE diapers. They can be pulled up and down more easily than a regular diaper but they serve the same function. It sounds from the letter that the little girl is using them as diapers, not as a training device, in which case, what's the point? My niece was trained long before pull-ups were a big thing and she was also a little late to get on board the training bus. Wearing underwear helped tremendously. If she wet herself (or worse), she had to change her own clothes and help clean herself (and whatever else may have gotten wet). There was no yelling or punishment, just matter-of-fact clean up and changing. Eventually, she grew tired of being uncomfortable and cleaning up. Couple that with the fact that others at pre-school were trained and she was trained pretty quickly. Lose the pull-ups. As for the pre-school, if they have a hard line, they have a hard line. You were paying them last year to work with you on training. This year, you'll be paying them again. The next class up just doesn't offer that service.

    Posted by Linney September 14, 11 10:55 AM
  1. I know boys typically take longer to train than girls, but at 3.5 my son still wasnt potty trained. I tried like crazy but it turned into a power struggle, so I just decided he will go when he is ready. I made sure I put underwear on him at daycare and like one of the previous posters said, we worked together to get him trained. One of the big motivators for him was seeing his peers using the potty. His daycare was pretty flexible and they let him move up to the next room. I just made sure I sent in extra clothes and they were more than happy to work with me. Woudn't you know it, by the time he was 4 he was trained and the only time I used pull ups was at night because that can take longer. Its important to get rid of the pull ups so that your daughter will get used to underwear and hopefully not like the idea of wet pants.

    Posted by Heather September 14, 11 07:06 PM
  1. I agree with nixing the pull-ups. If you think she can do it, but just won't then get cheap diapers that are uncomfortable and then try to figure out why she doesn't want to go. My daughter is about the same age and slow to train. We moved forward when I realized that she was simply embarrassed about an accident she had in front of others while wearing underwear and didn't want to 'risk' trying again. I had a gentle talk with her about how proud I was that she was trying and we went in stages. For awhile, she mostly used the potty but wore diapers (I rewarded her for each potty trip). She gradually gained the confidence for underwear, and her school worked with us. She insists on wearing diapers for the drive into school (with underwear over them), then takes off her diaper with her first potty visit. The teachers are encouraging her and reward her just for trying, have built in potty breaks (for all the kids), and don't make a fuss if there is an accident. There is some flexibility and understanding. It may not have been the same if we hadn't gotten the ball rolling a bit though, and just insisted that they change diapers. Anyway, your daughter is definitely NOT the latest child ever to be trained! As long as you are trying and moving forward, it should be okay!

    Posted by beentherebefore September 14, 11 10:22 PM
  1. When I gave my daughter the option on when we were going to start, we didn't make progress. We talked for a week that on Saturday we wear underwear. She was potty trained by Sunday. It's not for everyone, but I started to see that she knew what was up ("mom, I just peed in my diaper"). We just started at a new preschool, moving up from family daycare. When looking I asked a lot about toilet training and expectations and was told that as of January 2011 children have no age expectation for toilet training, per state guidelines. I've also heard some about grandfathering based on pre-existing facilities (one center I looked at had preschool on a separate floor than toddlers and no changing area for diapered kids). Our school has the toddler and preschool rooms next to each other with shared bathrooms, so at our place they could accommodate. In any case, I think if she is showing all the signs, like my daughter did, you might have to provide a bit of a push and lots of encouragement. I do think it's too bad that your center isn't as encouraging.

    Posted by Jennifer September 15, 11 09:33 AM
  1. Three is not too old at all to not be toilet trained. My little cub, Jonny, is 4 and a half and still in diapers 24/7. He's starting kindergarten in a few months which at first was a concern. Luckily, LIttle Paws Elementary accepted him and it turns out that they have quite a few cubs in diapers so he will fit right in. I guess I lucked out there that Jonny gets to learn at his own pace and not be rushed into using the potty.

    Posted by john April 13, 14 12:36 AM
 
7 comments so far...
  1. She is certainly NOT the oldest they have ever seen not toilet trained. They are simply putting pressure on you. Many many many children of the same age are not potty trained or at least completely potty trained. Besides, I believe both you and the daycare need to work TOGETHER. Sit down with them and come up with a plan. They need to be on board and while yes, it is your responsibility as a parent to potty train, they must work with you. Otherwise, what are you paying them for? Sorry but daycares are too expensive as it is. This should be something they do. This is rather obvious advice but try to make training exciting. Something that is rewarding for her and fun. There are many wonderful ideas online (pampers.com etc) that can give you ideas. Make it so it is your child's decision. They like to have some control over things. Perfect opportunity. Maybe if you put underwear on under the Pull-Up it will help her decide that she doesn't want the mess on her skin and it may help her. A Pull up is nothing more than a diaper.

    Posted by j September 14, 11 07:20 AM
  1. To say daycare "can't be bothered" is to accuse the people of being lazy and selfish, as opposed to considering that there may be a difference of opinion. And if the next age group is in a different room, it may not be designed with diaper changing facilities, etc. There are actually regulations about restrooms, privacy, all kinds of things that come into play about diapering and toileting.

    Do parents train their kids because they "can't be bothered" or because it's the normal thing to do? Do they teach their kids to feed themselves because they "can't be bothered" or because it's the normal thing to do? Same here--this kid may be on one end of the curve, but at three and a half it is definitely time to get this ball rolling, barring some kind of disability that needs extra time or attention.

    Posted by di September 14, 11 10:47 AM
  1. While I understand this mother's frustration, she should realize that pull-ups ARE diapers. They can be pulled up and down more easily than a regular diaper but they serve the same function. It sounds from the letter that the little girl is using them as diapers, not as a training device, in which case, what's the point? My niece was trained long before pull-ups were a big thing and she was also a little late to get on board the training bus. Wearing underwear helped tremendously. If she wet herself (or worse), she had to change her own clothes and help clean herself (and whatever else may have gotten wet). There was no yelling or punishment, just matter-of-fact clean up and changing. Eventually, she grew tired of being uncomfortable and cleaning up. Couple that with the fact that others at pre-school were trained and she was trained pretty quickly. Lose the pull-ups. As for the pre-school, if they have a hard line, they have a hard line. You were paying them last year to work with you on training. This year, you'll be paying them again. The next class up just doesn't offer that service.

    Posted by Linney September 14, 11 10:55 AM
  1. I know boys typically take longer to train than girls, but at 3.5 my son still wasnt potty trained. I tried like crazy but it turned into a power struggle, so I just decided he will go when he is ready. I made sure I put underwear on him at daycare and like one of the previous posters said, we worked together to get him trained. One of the big motivators for him was seeing his peers using the potty. His daycare was pretty flexible and they let him move up to the next room. I just made sure I sent in extra clothes and they were more than happy to work with me. Woudn't you know it, by the time he was 4 he was trained and the only time I used pull ups was at night because that can take longer. Its important to get rid of the pull ups so that your daughter will get used to underwear and hopefully not like the idea of wet pants.

    Posted by Heather September 14, 11 07:06 PM
  1. I agree with nixing the pull-ups. If you think she can do it, but just won't then get cheap diapers that are uncomfortable and then try to figure out why she doesn't want to go. My daughter is about the same age and slow to train. We moved forward when I realized that she was simply embarrassed about an accident she had in front of others while wearing underwear and didn't want to 'risk' trying again. I had a gentle talk with her about how proud I was that she was trying and we went in stages. For awhile, she mostly used the potty but wore diapers (I rewarded her for each potty trip). She gradually gained the confidence for underwear, and her school worked with us. She insists on wearing diapers for the drive into school (with underwear over them), then takes off her diaper with her first potty visit. The teachers are encouraging her and reward her just for trying, have built in potty breaks (for all the kids), and don't make a fuss if there is an accident. There is some flexibility and understanding. It may not have been the same if we hadn't gotten the ball rolling a bit though, and just insisted that they change diapers. Anyway, your daughter is definitely NOT the latest child ever to be trained! As long as you are trying and moving forward, it should be okay!

    Posted by beentherebefore September 14, 11 10:22 PM
  1. When I gave my daughter the option on when we were going to start, we didn't make progress. We talked for a week that on Saturday we wear underwear. She was potty trained by Sunday. It's not for everyone, but I started to see that she knew what was up ("mom, I just peed in my diaper"). We just started at a new preschool, moving up from family daycare. When looking I asked a lot about toilet training and expectations and was told that as of January 2011 children have no age expectation for toilet training, per state guidelines. I've also heard some about grandfathering based on pre-existing facilities (one center I looked at had preschool on a separate floor than toddlers and no changing area for diapered kids). Our school has the toddler and preschool rooms next to each other with shared bathrooms, so at our place they could accommodate. In any case, I think if she is showing all the signs, like my daughter did, you might have to provide a bit of a push and lots of encouragement. I do think it's too bad that your center isn't as encouraging.

    Posted by Jennifer September 15, 11 09:33 AM
  1. Three is not too old at all to not be toilet trained. My little cub, Jonny, is 4 and a half and still in diapers 24/7. He's starting kindergarten in a few months which at first was a concern. Luckily, LIttle Paws Elementary accepted him and it turns out that they have quite a few cubs in diapers so he will fit right in. I guess I lucked out there that Jonny gets to learn at his own pace and not be rushed into using the potty.

    Posted by john April 13, 14 12:36 AM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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