My youngest son is in kindergarten. His teacher has a policy to bench students during lunch time if the child goes to the bathroom within the first 30 minutes after a bathroom break. Although I appreciate the need of the teacher to manage his classroom without distraction, I also know that 5 year olds don’t have a strong time concept. Medical community also tells us 5 year olds don’t have a mature bladder and need to go potty much more frequently. My son fears being punished so he never asks to go to the bathroom even when he needs to. He has come home several times with somewhat wet clothes because he was unable to hold it until bathroom break yet he still won’t ask. Neither the teacher nor the principal have considered my request to come up with a more imaginative management tool than associating bathroom with punishment. I don’t want to antagonize the school against my children, but do you have any recommendations for dealing with this issue. Thank you.
Each school is different and has different practices for using the bathroom. It would be interesting to find out if the other kindergarten teachers in your son’s school follow this practice, or is it just your child’s teacher? Nevertheless, as the mother, you are your son’s best advocate, and you should certainly address this situation until it is resolved.
It is understandable that the teacher does not want constant interruptions, but it is difficult to put a limit on bathroom use by a kindergarten student. A five year old may not have the physiological capacity to “hold it in.” Furthermore, the fear and humiliation that can occur as a result of having an accident can really have a detrimental effect on a child. Punishing a five year old for using the bathroom too frequently, and employing a consequence such as loss of recess, are inappropriate tactics.
You should speak again with the teacher, and ask to include the school nurse, and the principal. Request an individualized plan for your child. Kindergarten teachers do track students to see how often they are going to the bathroom, so that they know their specific needs. Teachers do not want accidents in their classrooms and should be willing to set up a system for those students who need to use the bathroom more frequently. They certainly are receptive to “emergencies,” a concept that should be discussed with both your child and school staff.
You should let the school know that your child has specific needs, and that you do not want to cause harm/embarrassment/fear. Express the fears that your son conveys, so that the teacher – and principal — really understand what your child is experiencing.
If the teacher and principal are not receptive, address the problem with district administration.
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