Your child is starting preschool. Hopefully he has been potty trained by now, but everyone develops at a different pace, so your little one might not be ready for prime time.
Schools have a wide range of policies regarding expectations for potty training. You want your child to start preschool on time for all of the social, educational, and developmental benefits, as well as for your own schedule. Having your child ready to go when the day comes is important, but if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s okay. Accidents happen, and you still have time to help your little one once he’s enrolled. You have options, as well as alternative measures, to train your child.
If going to the potty is still presenting a challenge for your child and preschool is quickly approaching, here are some steps you can take.
Finding the right preschool for your child is an important decision. Look for the preschool’s policy on kids and potty training: Does the school expect that children are potty trained, able to go to the bathroom unassisted, or does it welcome kids still in training?
According to Grace Geller, the preschool director of A Children's Carousel in Weston, Florida, "Preschools should be willing to assist a parent in the toilet training process."
The preschool will likely ask that your child wears pull-ups, even though some experts suggest that proper underwear is more effective if you're potty training a child. Try sending him to preschool dressed in pants with elastic waists that are easy to pull up and down. Make sure to pack two changes of clothes and a waterproof bag.
After your child meets other kids at school, try to set up playdates with a friend who is potty trained. Children learn by example and push each other to take the next big step to become a big kid. Sometimes, having your child see what his new friends are doing is a more relaxing way for him to successfully gain this important skill.
Sometimes an untrained child will have problems using the potty in unfamiliar surroundings. Visit the school with your child and show him that the potty, toilet paper, and sink work just like the ones you have at home. Practice with your child in the school bathroom just like you would at home to boost his confidence.
If you think back to your child’s diaper days, there was a time when changing him in a public restroom could have been different and scary for him. Once he got used to the strange surroundings, it became more routine.
Teachers today have a lot on their plates, and with the move to including more children in preschool, the load will become even greater. One area teachers are being asked to focus on is increased engagement with parents. This shift creates an opportunity to talk to your child’s teacher about potty training, so you can work together to help your child master this milestone.
Talk to the teacher in private about how you can get your child on track, and reassure her that you are an active and supportive participant in this process. The teacher will respect your openness and accountability as you work in concert for what’s best for your precious little one.
You might think that there is a set-in-stone deadline for when your child is supposed to be potty trained, but things aren’t necessarily so firm. Cooperation from your child’s new school, diligence and encouragement on your part, and access to other potty-trained kids will move your child forward in becoming fully potty trained.