Kids Shouldn't Get to Use the Bathroom Whenever They Want During School

Last spring, I got a note from my 5-year-old daughter’s kindergarten-prep teacher asking if I could please kindly have my child use the restroom before coming to school in the morning. After some chatter with other parents, I realized I wasn’t the only one -- it seems that several of the kids were interrupting morning circle time with frequent requests to go to the bathroom.

Of course I complied, slightly embarrassed that I hadn’t realized she hadn’t been going before we left the house in the morning, because hey, the morning rush is crazy, right? So it’s hard to muster sympathy for some parents that believe their kids should be allowed to interrupt class time whenever they want because they forgot to pee during break times.

Mom Melissa Dalebout recently made the news by blaming Cascades Elementary School in Lebanon, Oregon for her first-grade daughter’s accident in December, because the girl didn’t want to lose any “Super Pro” bucks to use the toilet. The kids get fake money for good behavior, which they can spend on trinkets at the school store. Or they can spend them on an extra bathroom break, if they forget to go during one of the three appointed times during the school day.

This little girl didn’t want to lose her bucks, so she went in her pants. Sounds like a lesson in the consequences of decision making to me, but her mom believes that she was being “punished.”

"I just feel my children should not be punished for having to use the bathroom, even if they didn't take advantage of a recess break because they may not have been thinking of it. They're children," she said.

I’m all for being horrified if this was a preschool and the kid was 3. But by first grade? Come on.

Please let it be noted that this policy does not apply for children with a medical need that forces them to use the bathroom more often than their peers.

Anyway, it seems this is a pretty hot topic, with many parents upset that elementary schools are imposing consequences for children that do not manage their time wisely.

More from The Stir: Teachers Force 10-Year-Old Girl to Pee in Cup on School Bus

Which of course makes me want to shake my fist and shout, “This is what’s wrong with America!” because it’s such an easy and enforceable way to start teaching personal responsibility and self-care.

The kids aren’t being “punished,” they’re being given consequences for their poor decisions. They’re still allowed to use the restroom whenever they want, but they have to give something up if they want to interrupt class time to do it. Seems legit.

Of course after this issue got some attention, Cascades backed down on the policy, and now children are forced to forfeit two minutes of recess time if they need to use the facilities during class. No word on how the parents feel about this switch in consequences.

Do you think three potty breaks a day is sufficient for elementary school kids?


Image via Trish/Flickr

behavior, discipline, elementary school

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Evaly... EvalynCarnate

Yea, this is bullshit. Especially for smaller kids...

JS0512 JS0512

Agree with Evalyn.  This is bullshit.  Kids should be allowed to use the bathroom when they need to.  If it becomes excessive (and there is no medical issue) then that needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis.  You shouldn't have to earn points or bucks or whatever in order to buy more bathroom time.

the4m... the4mutts

There is no real life application to the dumbass rule about "only go during recess"

At work, you can get up from your desk and pee whenever the hell you want.

Even my husband who works in the oilfields, where there are only port-a-pottys spread out about 1/4 away from each location, can get up in the middle of a safety meeting, go pee, and come back. And OMG! He doesnt have to ask permission!!

If the schools would just start letting kids go whenever they needed to, without having to ask, it wouldnt be an interruption. Maybe even have just 2 passes. 1 boy, 1 girl. Teach the kids to look to make sure the pass is hanging on the wall, if it is, get up and go. If its not, wait 2 minutes for the other student to return.

They wouldnt be raising their hands to ask, so it wouldnt interrupt.

In older kids, like jr high and up, yeah, they get 2-5 minutes between each class, so they should use that time more wisely. But grade school children should never be forced to give up something they previously earned, or be punished for having to PEE!

Katha... Katharine205

That's awful, thankfully my 5 year old's teacher lets her use the bathroom whenever she wants.  This could lead to some medical issues in kids if they're constantly holding it for fear of being punished for using the bathroom outside of their scheduled breaks.  I'd like to see a pediatric urologist weigh in on it.

the4m... the4mutts

Oh, and I personally have no medical condition, but I pee. A LOT, all the time. I go at least every hour. I do not have overactive bladder or anything, so says my doctor. But when I have to go, I have to go RIGHT THEN. There is no transition for me.

So I understand a child's need to go in the middle of friggin circle time.

Its 2 minutes. Who cares?

Bruic... Bruickson

Kids should be able to use the bathroom when they need to use the bathroom!  If it becomes an issue with a particular child then that situation can be addressed.  I'm sorry but when you gotta go, you gotta go even if it isn't during one of the "three appointed times".

ashjo85 ashjo85

I've never liked bathroom policies. I don't know why it's such a big deal to let a child up for 5 minutes to use the restroom. That's how it works in the real world! You feel an urge, you go take care of it, you come back. Why all the freaking focus on it!? That's how we did things when I was in school. The hall pass hung by the door, one kid at a time, you just got up and grabbed it if it was available. This was never a THING.

Crystal Reavis

Wow, these are small children we are talking about here. They naturally have to go more often then we  do, hello their bladders are smaller then ours. If adults were made to do something like this at work you can bet your ass they would not be happy. Their should be no set times for a child going to the bathroom, unless the kid continually ask to go. This is wrong on so many levels and I believe their are health risk to holding it too long. This is really ignorant! The school is being stupid and the author of this article is just as big an idiot. 

nonmember avatar Jessie P

Kids should not be allowed to leave class everytime they WANT but most certainly should get to go to yhe bathroom every time they NEED to. If it gets out of control deal with it individually

nonmember avatar Larissa Lively

When my son was in 6th grade, his teachers refused to let him use the bathroom during class time. Due to him being forced to hold it, he ended up with a severe uti & spent 5 days in the hospital hooked up to iv antibiotics & with fevers ranging from 100-105. I was livid!!!! I went to the school & raised Hell! After that, he was allowed to go anytime he needed. I am sorry but when you gotta go, you gotta go!!!

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