Preschool and the Potty Training Question
9/28/2011 | by Gwenn S. O’Keeffe, MD, FAAP
Sending your child to preschool is a big step for every family. It’s one of the first times a child is consistently away from home, and a memorable Big Kid® moment that parents and children look forward to celebrating together.
Of all the preparations associated with preschool, potty training
tends to top the list. Parents often wonder:
· What if my child isn’t potty trained by preschool?
· Should I find a preschool that doesn’t require my child to be potty trained?
· What can I do to help my child be ready to use the potty at preschool?
The answers to these questions will differ for each family, but one thing remains consistent: all kids develop and potty train at their own pace.
In the past, it was expected for kids to be potty trained before starting preschool. But today, many preschools are moving towards a more child-directed view of potty training, and most schools are eliminating the requirement that children be potty trained. This new philosophy recognizes that toddlers develop differently, and requirements related to development aren’t realistic or fair to children. This new approach is supported by the pediatric community and advocated by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
There are many reasons we send our toddlers to preschool:
· To become comfortable being away from their home and parents;
· To learn socialization skills, including taking turns and respecting others; and
· To acclimate to a school environment, getting used to the routine schedule and paying attention to their teachers
As long as a preschool addresses these goals, their potty training policy is less important than the nurturing environment provided. Regardless of the type of preschool you choose, it’s good to prepare your child for going potty at school while keeping realistic expectations in mind.
If your child recently started preschool and has still not mastered potty training, don’t pressure your child in the form of a deadline. Remember, some kids train more quickly than others, and there can be many starts and stops along the way. It’s normal for children to experience setbacks when they are in new environments like preschool. If your child does experience setbacks, it’s important to be a cheerleader for their accomplishments in and out of the bathroom. Drawing too much attention to their potty training setbacks can have the opposite of the desired effect.
For parents who want to add more structure to the potty training process and help their child get started sooner, tools reinforcing practicing potty training as part of a daily routine can be effective. Pull-Ups® Potty Timers or the Pull-Ups® iGo Potty app are a couple tools that can be effective for some parents and kids as it helps create a routine potty break, reminding them to use the bathroom. Ultimately, the goal for potty training is to help our kids learn and recognize their own timing.