One of the major problems I have experienced are potty-trained students who enter Pre-K4 and begin having accidents again. Parents are freaking out, children are embarrassed, and teachers are explaining away the incidents.
First off, these accidents are NORMAL! No, your student is not relapsing to the days of 30 bathroom trips in one day. No, the teachers are not being neglectful of your little one. And no, you did not fail at potty-training while suffering through countless loads of pee ridden laundry.
That being said, it is not something to be ignored. While children of this age are fairly oblivious, the other students will begin to notice that your child is always wet. The teachers will become frustrated at having to change your child 15 times a day. And I know parents don’t want to have to soak sneakers in vinegar for the upteenth time.
Why it is happening…
Imagine PK4 or Kindergarten from a little one’s perspective. This is a time for new transitions. There is work to be completed, desks to keep clean, and new toys to explore. Needless to say, there is a lot going on in your little one’s world. If they are attending a new school, there are a thousand things to take in. Even if they are not, they have a new teacher, a new classroom, and new rules.
The problem could be as simple as your child is afraid of the sound of the toilet flushing. They could be so busy playing with the new toys and friends that they forget to stop to go to the bathroom. Or they could be telling you that they are stressed out about the transition. It is important to talk to the student about why this is happening. Keep in mind, these little guys are just learning how to vocalize their feelings. You will need to ask these direct questions, but in a non-threatening way. Try asking the child what was happening surrounding the accident. It will be very telling if your child says he was on the playground laughing and playing (he didn’t want to stop playing to go to the bathroom), or they were working in class on a paper (he may be afraid of the bathroom).
And how to fix it…
- Do not embarrass the child. Unless there is an underlying behavioral issue, children do not enjoy being wet. This is a process that will take time, and it will be harder if the child feels terrible about his accidents everyday.
- Set up a bathroom schedule. This will require some help from teachers and staff members working with your child. Children should be prompted to go to the bathroom more often than we would go as adults. A good rule of thumb would be every 2-3 hours. Work with the teacher to get a good schedule going. Preschool and Kindergarten teachers typically already have a good schedule. For example, they may have students use the bathroom before lunch or before they go on the playground. Work with the teacher’s schedule, and kindly ask if the teacher will make sure that your child actually uses the bathroom. Be patient, however. Teachers have a million and one things to remember on a daily basis, and it may take some time for the teacher to get on a schedule, as well.
- Set up a positive reward system. Just like the good old potty-training days, your child will need some motivation. It is important to focus on the positive and build up your child’s self esteem. I have used something as cheap and simple as stickers to reward the child for each day without an accident. It is amazing that the positive words and a sticker will do the trick. If your student is a little more stubborn, link the days they are dry to a bigger reward. For example, an ice cream date would be a fun reward for 10 days without an accident. This also gives you an opportunity to bond with your child, and who doesn’t love a little extra time with mommy or daddy?
So take heart! There are solutions. Just be patient and positive, and your little guy (or lady) will come around.
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