Can Preschools and Schools Implement Potty Training Policies?

Navigating the world of preschools and daycares can be overwhelming, especially when wondering: can preschools and schools implement potty training policies? This guide aims to provide clarity for anxious parents of toddlers who are not potty trained, helping them better understand the varying policies and requirements that may apply.

Given the stressful nature of potty training for parents and children. The last thing any parent needs is to face discrimination from a daycare or preschool that refuses to accept an untrained child. And yet, families confront this trial on occasion.

In 2011, a kid in Arlington, Virginia, was told she could not return to her preschool until she stopped wetting her pants. The office of the New Jersey Attorney General filed a discrimination lawsuit against a preschool in 2016 after it allegedly fired a young child with the condition of not being potty trained.

Not only are “potty training deadlines” damaging, but most education and pediatric professionals advise against them. Here is information for parents of potty-training toddlers.

Childcare Policies on Toilet Training

Different daycares and schools have different policies, making it difficult for parents to navigate this sector. Some daycares and preschools, for instance, require children to be potty-trained and reasonably accident-free before enrollment. Others, such as the federally-funded Head Start program, only need potty training in advance.

Dr. Lisa Lewis, a board-certified pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas, notes that daycares and preschools typically require potty-trained children to enroll in their programs beginning at age three or older. “I’ve encountered numerous parents in the clinic who had to hunt for ‘potty-training-friendly’ daycares or preschools for their three-year-old children”

By state.

Some states have implemented their own regulations. Some states’ departments of child and family services may have enacted regulations mandating toilet training for particular daycare programs. These frequently apply to preschool and older children’s activities.

The state of Illinois, for instance, stipulates that teachers may request parental participation to initiate potty training, but neither parents nor children would be subjected to special measures.

Tomitra Latimer, M.D., medical director in Chicago, argues that Illinois daycares, for instance, do not require children to be potty trained. This is due to their need for these developmental skills at such a young age. “Additionally, toilet-trained youngsters with specific needs are not required to enroll.”

By daycare facilities.

KinderCare, a national provider of child care and early childhood education with more than 1,700 sites, avoids potty training deadlines.

Hattie Mae Covington, a teacher at the Providence Road KinderCare Learning Center, states, “At KinderCare, we would never reject a kid because he or she is not potty trained.” “Every child develops at their own rate, and some may have medical reasons for being toilet-trained later or not at all than their peers. We strive to meet each child where they are and collaborate with their family to determine how we can best serve them.”

But parents must check the state, preschool, or daycare’s regulations before enrolling a child who still needs to be potty trained.

When to Begin Potty Training

The ideal time to start potty training depends on parental expectations and how potty training is defined, according to Laura Jana, M.D., FAAP, a pediatrician, author, and spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Dr. Jana explains, “This is because if someone expects that when you begin training your child, they must quickly master the concept, it’s a totally different talk than the one I advocate having, which begins with viewing potty training as potty learning.” This shows that potty training is a learning process that can be completed gradually.

Offer early publicity.

Dr. Jana recommends beginning when a toddler can accompany you to the restroom. She says that toddlers can acquire exposure to using the toilet at this age, even if they are not yet ready to undress or use the toilet. Try allowing them to sit on a potty seat with you or their siblings and allowing them to flush the toilet for you.

“Much of this early exposure and toilet training is predicated on preventing later difficulties and concerns, such as fear of flushing and inability from sitting still,” explains Dr. Jana.

Pediatrician Ellen Lestz, M.D., of White Plains Hospital Medical & Wellness in Armonk, New York, typically asks parents about it during their child’s 2-year checkup. Dr. Lestz argues that learning to use the toilet first entails more of an introduction, such as:

  • Reading books on potty training.
  • Try before bathing.
  • Entering the restroom with parents.

“The average age of success appears to be closer to three, even though some are younger and many are older. Most children will let their parents know when they’re ready by requesting to use the toilet, wearing underpants, or waking up dry.”

Avoid pressure.

Dr. Lestz notes that if a child is not ready and a parent tries too hard to “teach” them, they may be more inclined to resist.

The AAP echoes Dr. Lestz’s recommendation, adding that the average age to begin potty training in the United States is between 2 and 3 years. However, the majority of children are not potty-trained until around age 4.

When to Take a Break from Potty Training

If your child is battling you tooth and nail during potty training, you may question when to give up. Taking a break is an option. Dr. Jana adds. “It’s important to pick your battles,” she says. “Forcing children to urinate or defecate in the potty rarely ends well if you are engaged in conflict rather than working as a team.”

According to Dr. Jana, there are occasions when it may be necessary to pause:

  • Constipation
  • New infant care
  • Moving
  • Travel
  • The birth of a sibling

According to Dr. Jana, this is an excellent topic to address with a physician. Your efforts are more likely to be effective when you collaborate to determine what your “teammate” (kid) needs most to be successful. Occasionally, this involves more routine, positive reinforcement, additional “education” about the process, or a break.

How to Deal with Imminent Deadlines

As the school year approaches, Dr. Latimer acknowledges that parents whose children are not yet toilet trained may experience tension, anxiety, and panic. This is especially true if the school needs them to be diaper-free.

Use the deadline as an opportunity.

According to Alex Ryan, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics, this moment may present an opportunity for parents and children to cross the finish line. She observed that all three of her children seemed to put off toilet training until the “last minute.” She therefore utilized scheduled bathroom breaks, potty charts, reward stickers, and lavish praise to overcome this obstacle.

Dr. Latimer reassures parents that some children can be potty-trained quite rapidly. Since many preschools are only half-days, the majority of youngsters may remain dry for two to three hours.

Obviously, this assumes the child is ready for potty training. According to the UC Davis Health Children’s Hospital, the average time required to toilet train a toddler is six months. Therefore, if your child is not prepared, no amount of pressure will make them so.

Collaboration with your childcare or school.

Parents should collaborate with their child’s daycare or preschool on their goals whenever possible. As Dr. Jana explains, “having owned an educational child care center for nearly ten years with 200 children, mostly under the age of six, I can tell you that partnering with child care providers in a collaborative, positive approach gives children the consistency and support they need—and can really derail your efforts when you’re not in sync.”

In addition, a child’s daycare or school environment can aid in the process. According to Professor Lewis, “One of the best ways to potty train a toddler is to enroll him or her in daycare or preschool. Toddlers adore gaining knowledge from other children, and ‘follow the leader’ is a fantastic potty training aid.”

Significant early learning organizations concur that collaborations between families and schools are essential for toilet training. For instance, the National Association for the Education of Young Children describes a high-quality program as providing assistance with toileting.

Find a supportive school.

The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education establishes and maintains national childcare standards. Their section on toilet training in Caring for Our Children recommends that teachers and childcare providers assist young children with toilet training. They recommend delaying toilet training until a child demonstrates the following readiness indicators:

  • A comprehension of cause and effect.
  • Ability to communicate.
  • Capacity to maintain dryness for up to two hours.
  • The capacity to sit on a toilet.
  • Possession of the sensation of elimination.
  • Demonstrating a desire for autonomy

If your child isn’t ready for toilet training, your final choice is to find a school or daycare that is accommodating and understanding of children who aren’t potty trained. Chances are this will be a brief stretch, and by next school year, your possibilities will likely have opened up!

Meaningful articles you might like: Common Potty Training Issues and How to Solve Them, Preparation for Potty Training, 4 Reasons Toddlers Refuse to Poop in the Potty