or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Kindergartners getting help in the bathroom?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Kindergartners getting help in the bathroom?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

My son just started K.  We were ambivalent about starting him because he makes the cutoff by 2 weeks, and holding kids back seems to be in fashion.  But we started him because the school felt he was ready, and we didn't want to give up the spot in this school. 

 

So during his first week, he had a terrible experience and I am just so heartbroken over it, especially since I could have (most likely) prevented it if I had anticipated it, which maybe I should have.  He's been potty trained since age 2 and a half and has never had accidents.  But we still help him wipe when he poops.  I did not think to mention this to his K teacher or ask about it.  This was just never an issue at his former school.  Oddly enough, I DID mention it to his preschool teacher at the beginning of last year.  She was so blase about it..."oh yeah, they all need help with that, don't worry about it."  So I guess I just figured this skill comes when it comes and then it was off my radar.  I saw that his K room has its own little bathroom in the classroom, and I didn't really even think about it, but I guess I just assumed it would be the same kind of thing where the kids are mostly independent, but if they occasionally needed help, someone would help them.  Wrong.

 

So here's the story his teacher gave me via email right after the incident.  My son came out of the bathroom with his pants off while Spanish was happening (different teacher who came to the classroom) and asked for help wiping.  He got upset when the teacher said she couldn't.  Then his own regular teacher happened to walk in.  She took him into the bathroom, and he asked her to wipe him.  She told him he must do it himself (because, she told me, they are not allowed to touch the children in the bathroom!)  He was upset and crying and said it was too hard.  Then his nametag he had just made fell into the toilet and he got even more upset.  His teacher tried to talk him through it and finally asked if he wanted to go to the nurse for help.  He said no and was eventually able to calm down, pull his pants up, and go to art.  At pick-up, she said he was fine the rest of the day  but that it was a very traumatic experience for him not to be able to do this himself.  I wanted to say that what was traumatic was the fact that no one would help him, but I didn't say anything.  I did express surprise about the policy that they could not touch the children in the bathroom, and asked if this even applied to the preschool--3 year olds!  She said yes, even them, there could be lawsuits, etc.  I asked if this policy was written anywhere and that I didn't remember seeing it. She said she thought it was.  I apologized for the disruption and told her we would work with him on this. 

 

My son was extremely upset and humiliated by this, to the point that it took quite awhile before he could even tolerate talking with us about it.  My tack was that this was a crazy rule, that his teacher really wanted to help him, but sometimes people have to follow rules at their jobs and that was what she had to do.  At the risk of sounding negative about the school, I felt I really needed to validate him and make sure he did not feel he had done anything wrong.  I also told him I was sorry I didnt know about that rule so I could have taught him sooner, but not to worry, we would help him learn to do it himself every time and he wouldn't need any help!  I was also careful to point out that most of the rules at school are good, and had him think of some good ones, etc....He is still very sensitive about this whole incident and we have had to tread very lightly in getting him to practice doing it on his own.  But he has gone to school willingly after this and seems OK overall.

 

The next day there was a note in his bag saying she wanted to make sure she had given us the correct info on the policy so she had spoken to the principal, and she attached a copy of this section of the policy.  It indeed taked about being potty trained, which explicitly included being completely independent with cleaning self, getting zipped, buttoned, buckled, etc (those things he does).  This was under the heading "Student Acceptance."  Probably why I blew by it when I read the parent manual--my kid was already accepted to the school, so I likely didn't think there was anything relevant in that section. 

 

I feel so stupid for not anticipating this, and so sad for my boy to have had such an experience his first week of school.  I feel responsible, but at the same time, what kind of crazy world is this when a teacher can't help a child in need because of some insane fear of lawsuits?  Over helping a 5 year old in the bathroom?  A teacher?  I just wish she would have/could have just helped him this one time, then addressed it with me.  After I feel less upset about it, I'm thinking about talking to the principal abou this.  Not to complain about the teacher--I like her very much and I believe her hands were tied.  But about the rigidity of this policy with such young kids, and really, shouldn't they flag this somehow if it's that strict a policy?  Shouldn't this have been in the "ABC's of Kindergarten" 6 page handout we got with the welcome packet?  Or at the very least, in the parent manual under "toileting' or "school readiness" or something other than "student acceptance?"   Or am I really the only one who may not have figured out this situation? 

 

Thanks to anyone still reading this long post!  I appreciate any input. 

post #2 of 25
My kiddos did not get help when they were in pre school or K due to the teacher's hands off policy. Unfortunately in our sue happy society, just because one parent is ok doesn't mean they all are. Plus my kids had 25 kids in their k classes. If the teacher is assisting kiddos in the restroom, what are the kiddos doing in the classroom while that is happening? I'm sorry your son felt humiliated; but I do think it's something that is part of the readiness package.
post #3 of 25

Preschools in our area expect students to wipe themselves and I don't feel that's an unrealistic expectation. Sure, if they have an accident, they might need some help cleaning up but for the most part, older 3's and 4's should be able to handle it. Certainly kindergarten age kids. It's not just legality (though that's a big part of it.) It's a rare K teacher who has a classroom aide these days. The logistics of giving that level of help in the bathroom to 20 kids is problematic.

 

I'm sorry your DS was embarrassed. I feel for the little guy. Both my kids who were totally potty trained at 2 and each had an accident in kindergarten and they were super embarrassed. In their case, they just worried about asking the teacher at the wrong time and tried to hold it in too long. It did pass and neither remember it now. 

post #4 of 25

Aww, poor guy! I hope he isn't too upset about it now. It is also common around here that preschool teachers will not help in the bathroom so I would not expect kindergarten teachers to either. But not every kid wipes himself in kindergarten. My middle son didn't. I don't know what he did at school. He only went a half day though so maybe he just didn't go at school? I guess you just need to tell your son to do the best he can and that you can help him clean up when he gets home if need be.

 

The good thing is that while things like these are embarrassing, they go away pretty quickly at that age. It seems like there is always somebody throwing up, etc. at school. Kids seem to forget about things fast. I remember one time I was taking my then 1st grader back to school after she had the stomach flu. We walked in the office and she promptly threw up!! I was so embarrassed but the secretary didn't even bat an eye and called the janitor down who had it cleaned up in a few seconds.

 

 


Edited by lindberg99 - 9/11/11 at 8:17am
post #5 of 25

I know that the teachers are not allowed to go into the bathroom at either of my kids' elementary schools, nor were they in preschool. We taught my middle son to wipe before preschool started (my oldest didn't go to preschool). I'm sure they assumed everyone understood that teachers are not going to wipe their students' butts. That goes way beyond the job description for an elementary school teacher. 

post #6 of 25

All the schools, even prek, around here require full independence in the bathroom and I think it's a reasonable and sound rule.  I had a thread last month about how I was having a hard time finding pull up pants so that mine didn't have to negotiate buttons because she can't dependably do it every time and the teachers can't help.  It's frustrating, but I get it.


That said, my daughter would've also been embarrassed and traumatized by that incident, even if the teacher handled it well.  I'm sorry it happened and I hope you guys can move past it and enjoy the rest of the year.

post #7 of 25

I'm sorry this happened to your son, but I am pretty sure you will find that this is the case pretty well everywhere. I don't remember anyone being helped when I was in kindergarden and that was a very long time ago. (40 plus)    I don't blame the teachers at all. I would never think that this is part of their job in elementary school! A daycare-yes.  I understand that there is so much to think about when children go to school that you think what you do is normal for everyone. Just work on teaching your child on how to do it and I am sure he will be resiliant. Don't beat yourself up!!!!

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 

I appreciate the kindness and understanding most have showed here even though clearly I am odd mom out in not having anticipated this situation.  I have talked to a couple people in the last few days whose sons, like mine and lindberg99's still ask for help, and all of them apparently have just gotten lucky or their boys only go at home or whatever.  My son seems to have recovered from this episode and now understands he must do everything himself.   Now I am trying to forgive myself this mistake which has caused my son pain :(.   Thanks for the replies. 

post #9 of 25

Summerbabe, my middle daughter had this experience in preschool at age 4. They called me to come in, when I did she was sitting in the bathroom, covered in poop, sobbing hysterically. The teacher was standing there watching. I was heartbroken and devastated for her. She still remembers it and whenever I think about it, I want to cry too. 

 

My ds is also having issues with this, and he is in first grade. He doesn't seem to have the dexterity to get it done properly and frequently comes home with messy underwear. We have been working on it but he's embarrassed and afraid to tell anyone. I don't think it's unusual for little ones to have difficulty managing the logistics of this sometimes.

 

I don't really have any advice for you, but just some empathy. hug2.gif

post #10 of 25

At age 5, we had to teach our son how to wipe himself. He was highly resistant to it.

 

So, I made a chart for 4 weeks.

The first week: I wiped first, and he practiced after me (he was afraid of getting his hands dirty). If he did that all 7 days, he got a bus ride (his favorite thing at the time).

The second week: He wiped, I wiped, he wiped, I wiped. If he did that all 7 days, he got a bus ride.

The third week: He wiped, I checked and helped if needed. If he did that all 7 days, he got a bus ride

The fourth week: he wiped, I checked (but didn't help). If he did that all 7 days, he got the bus ride of his dreams -- end to end on the longest route in town.

 

Now I realize that the thrill of riding a city bus won't appeal to 99.9% of kids, but I bet you can find something equally motivated to help your son. And I will say that I haven't had to wipe him since. Some kids (like our dd) naturally want to do these things on their own. Others need to be taught and/or bribed. I'm OK with bribing for potty training. Once he learns the skill, you can withdraw the bribe. You won't be bribing him at 16 to wipe his own bottom!

post #11 of 25

Our teachers aren't able to help out, but that was made pretty clear at the parents evenings before this kids started and in the information we were sent home. There was a section in the getting your child ready for school part about going to the toilet (encouraging the kids to go before heading out on the playground, letting the teacher know if they need to leave the room, and making sure they are able to handle the whole process themselves) From the number of times it was mentioned I got the impression they have had people not know in the past.

 

I'm sorry your son was upset, that's a pretty big deal when you've just started school. I hope he gets past it and is still able to enjoy school.

 

FWIW my kids found the wet wipes easier to use when they first started wiping themselves, they were less likely to tear them . I did ask them to put them in the bin even though the pack says flushable, had to many issues with blocked toilets to take the risk. We only needed a couple of packs before they got the hand of toilet roll.

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for the support, mamas.  Nicarolaberry, I am sorry your daughter had that experience.

 

He is doing great now and is not so sensitive about the issue--cheerful now about going and doing it himself.  He wants us to check him after to make sure he did a good job.  Sometimes better than others!  So yeah, he's capable of doing it, but let's face it, adults do a better job of it, and who wouldn't want to feel as clean as possible?  So I am still happy to help him at home as long as he is capable of going through the motions independently and does so first.  And he knows no one is going to check at school. 

 

Laughing Hyena, I wonder if that will be the scenario at my son's school next year, courtesy of us ;) 

post #13 of 25

Eh, he may have been embarrassed, however he may now more than ever want to figure out how to take care of it himself.  Cruddy situation though.  I think the teacher handled it as well as she could.  She didn't know he would need help and if she did she probably would have told you that they can't do that.  DD1 could never button her pants and I remember her 1st grade teacher showed her the rubber band trick since she couldn't touch her pants.  I thought it was a very creative way to get things done. 

 

Hopefully he has plenty of good experiences to override this last one. 

post #14 of 25

This should really have been something your child's preschool teachers helped you understand wasn't normal for a child who is almost old enough to enter kindergarten.  If you are going to have another child there or if you feel like giving them that feedback I think you should.  I have worked in three centers and only one had a few children who needed help with wiping after being potty trained.  I think your ds's former preschool really dropped the ball there.

post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

This should really have been something your child's preschool teachers helped you understand wasn't normal for a child who is almost old enough to enter kindergarten.  If you are going to have another child there or if you feel like giving them that feedback I think you should.  I have worked in three centers and only one had a few children who needed help with wiping after being potty trained.  I think your ds's former preschool really dropped the ball there.


It seems to me that once a child is in K, help with toileting is a "special needs" issue and would have to be dealt with in advance of the school year starting.

 

I didn't specifically look for our school rules on this since dd was fully toilet trained at 2yo, but I think it was covered in our school handbook. Ds was resistant to toilet training and needed help for longer but was fine on his own by K.

 

post #16 of 25

Could he use flushable wipes at school? Not very economical or enviromentally friendly, but it would ensure he was clean. (Though flushing wipes might not work for the school)

 

 

post #17 of 25

Oh, I am really sorry you both had a hard time with this. This is the policy in any public school and I thought anyway that it was well known. I am sorry that it wasn't discussed in orientation but I don't think the school did anything wrong. It also sounds like the teacher tried to handle it in the gentlest way possible. You just didn't know. At least in some preschools, they work on wiping as a skill to be learned prior to kindy.

Perhaps you practice at home with flushable wipes and or send some to school.

 

You know how some preschools require kids to be potty trained and some don't? It depends if they are licensed as a daycare or not. Daycares are licensed to take care of all bodily needs. Schools are not. So a preschool that is not licensed for diaper care (including wiping) will not and cannot help.

post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by JudiAU View Post

Oh, I am really sorry you both had a hard time with this. This is the policy in any public school and I thought anyway that it was well known. I am sorry that it wasn't discussed in orientation but I don't think the school did anything wrong. It also sounds like the teacher tried to handle it in the gentlest way possible. You just didn't know. At least in some preschools, they work on wiping as a skill to be learned prior to kindy.

Perhaps you practice at home with flushable wipes and or send some to school.

 

You know how some preschools require kids to be potty trained and some don't? It depends if they are licensed as a daycare or not. Daycares are licensed to take care of all bodily needs. Schools are not. So a preschool that is not licensed for diaper care (including wiping) will not and cannot help.


That really depends on which state you are in.  Daycare centers and preschools are the same here, they go through the same licensing, have the same requirements for licensing staff, and they get the same safety checks.  State and local law makes no distinctions.  As a center the daycare or preschool can decide not to accept children who need help with bodily care but they don't have to decide that because of what they call themselves.

 

post #19 of 25

 

"This should really have been something your child's preschool teachers helped you understand wasn't normal for a child who is almost old enough to enter kindergarten."

 

Yup. It's the preschool that's at fault here. Independent toileting is a standard 4K skill, and if your DS wasn't mastering it then you should have been informed so that you would know to work on it over the summer. I'm so sorry that this happened, but so glad that your DS has bounced back from it! 

post #20 of 25

My ds is 9yo now, but he didn't consistently wipe himself after BMs until he was 7.5yo.  This was due to several factors, mostly relating to sensory issues: gravitational insecurity (he always felt like he was about to fall into the bowl), tactile defensiveness (hated feeling both dry paper and wet wipes on the palm of his hand), and moderately severe germophobic OCD.

 

I solved the problem by doing some gentle bowel training the summer before kindy.  He was comfortably able to hold it all day, and every day as soon as we walked in from school he ran to poop.  It didn't hurt that his germophobia made him not want to use a public toilet!

 

Then about a year and a half ago I got tired of having to drop everything when I heard "Mom, the poop is ready!" so I told him (nicely and lovingly, of course!) that I was tired of wiping his cute little ass and he needed to do it himself.  :)

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Learning at School
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Kindergartners getting help in the bathroom?