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.

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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