Kindergartner Having Toileting Accidents at School

Updated on November 29, 2011
K.C. asks from Springfield, MO
6 answers

Hello, I so need to vent here. My 5 year old has had numerous accidents at school. At the beginning of the year, due to chronic constipation, he had a soiling incident. The pediatrician had me put him on Miralax to clean him out, which it school. So, 2 poopy accidents early on.

Now, he is starting to wet himself. It happened last week, he came out of school in different pants from the nurse. I left a message on his teacher's voicemail that I was concerned, and she never responded. I was hoping we could come up with a system to help him with going. It seems that whenever the class goes as a group to the bathroom, he thinks he doesn't need to try. He only goes to the bathroom if he is ready to burst, even at home. So, he holds it, then cannot make it to the bathroom at school.

The school nurse said I just need to talk to him to explain he's a big boy, and needs to try to go with everyone else. Well, I've been doing that. Wouldn't life be easy if we could just talk to our kids about everything they NEED to do, and they just do it!! I need more help. The nurse told me it is a health hazard and if he is going to wet himself, he can wear a pull-up. That doesn't seem like a very good option. Am I out of line to want them to help more with this? The nurse says he just needs to feel embarrassed and will want to stop on his own. I don't want this to become more of an issue where he will potentially be made fun of. Embarrassment seems like a cruel teaching tool. Is he not ready for kindergarten? He is doing fine academically but a little on the immature side. She said it would be embarrassing for the teacher to single him out by asking him to go. Isn't it more embarrassing to pee everywhere? Thanks for listening......

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answers from Jacksonville on

I would try again to speak with his teacher. The school nurse is not in the classroom to see the individual circumstances when this is happening. My daughter, never having had a potty accident since she trained at 2 yrs old, had an accident in kinder. I had talked to her until I was blue in the face about not holding it (she would get in the car at pickup time DAILY at 11:45 and immediately HAVE to go potty--good thing we lived 5 minutes from school). A few times, I even had to just park the car and walk back into the school. She just didn't go at school, and to that point, she had managed to make it/hold out. But one day, she needed to go when she was in her reading group. It wasn't her turn to read so she was supposed to be quiet and not talk while another student read. She did. And wet her pants in the process, instead of raising her hand or interrupting b/c she didn't want to "break the rules". She was a very rigid rule follower.

I had to talk to her at length that day, and immediately afterwards IN HER PRESENCE talk with the teacher, and get the teacher to reiterate to her that it was ALWAYS OKAY to go to the potty if she needed to. It was right in their classroom. No other student had to go with her, it was no inconvenience to anyone else, she didn't even have to raise her hand and ask. Straight from the teacher's mouth, with me as her witness. She never had another school accident.
Now, maybe your son doesn't have the same "rule" issue my child did. If they are all expected to go and he doesn't follow suit, then he must not mind breaking the rules. But perhaps there is something else that is equally glossed over that makes him not want to go? Does he have privacy issues? Does he get "stage fright"? Is there something about the restroom at school that he doesn't like? Does it smell badly? Does he not like the tissue? The hand soap? Does he have an issue with the doors or the "locks" on them? There could be a bazillion reasons besides him just being obstinate. Talk at length with him and see if you can figure it out. He may not even know exactly what it is unless you happen to word your question just right.
But I think you should talk one on one with his teacher and let her know you are trying diligently to figure out the problem and address it, and ASK HER if she has ANY ideas or suggestions.... Then see if she is willing to work with you and your son to get through this. Maybe some sort of signal so he doesn't have to ask in front of everyone? Maybe let him be first in the line of kids when it is time for them to all go? Or last? Try different things... maybe you'll hit on it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Here is the deal. Is he the only child having accidents in the whole kinder?
That is when you worry about why he cannot get to the potty on time. It is almost Christmas holidays so they have been in kinder for 2 and a half months. He needs to know to at least try to go potty.

If he realizes he needs to go at different time, he needs to ask.

I used to also just not want to go potty in kinder because I did not want to miss out on anything. I would sometimes have small accidents and finally my mom told me Others were going to notice the smell if I wet myself.. That did it for me. I did not want that to happen.. Maybe it was like shame, but I was not about to smell like pee.

As I got old the things that I needed to remember was my mom saying, "Do you and I need to go together and speak with the teacher about this?" I never wanted my mom to have to take off from work and me to have to listen to the teacher and my mom discuss a personal problem I was having. So I got it together.

Figure out what motivates your child. Is it a prize? Is it staying up on Sat night a little longer? Make a deal for every 3 days he can stay dry he gets.... Then 4 days,,etc.. till he realizes what it takes to remember.

It is not the classroom teachers responsibility to make sure a child goes to the potty all day. They schedule it or the children can ask if it is an emergency. When they entered Kinder, they were supposed to be totally potty trained. They are in school, not day care.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I do not think the school is handling it properly from what you said.
I mean saying he should become embarrassed.
Sounds like that is just setting your son up for more emotional trauma than is neccessary.
My daughter had issues when she was in kindergarten as well.
She didn't have accidents usually while she was at school but when I would pick her up from school she was having the accident in the car.
So, she was holding it all day long.
I think that is easier for girls to do though.
They had the potty in their classroom though and I finally found out she was scared of everyone hearing her while in the potty.
So, she couldn't go.
She finally got over that fear and will use it now but she holds hers as well and still has accidents at home sometimes.
She is in first grade now and I just have to remind her to go all the time.
I think they could ask him if he had to go and that would be less traumatizing to him than peeing in his pants.
The school definitely needs to help you out more with this issue.
Maybe go to the principal?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Great responses here. Yes, you must talk to the teacher; I would do it in person, though: Once without your son there to clarify some things for yourself, and once with him there.

The first talk is so you find out: Does she ONLY allow children to go to the bathroom at the designated group time? If so, that is frankly wrong for this age. She needs to ask periodically if anyone needs to go, and she must allow a child who needs to go "right now" to go to the bathroom. See if there is some policy about this that she must follow. Also, is there a bathroom right there IN the classroom or is it elsewhere, like down a hallway? Sometimes teachers are reluctant to let kids this age go at will to the bathroom because it requires the teacher to send two kids (child plus a hall buddy), the teacher can't see where they are, etc. If there is a bathroom inside the classroom this should not be an issue and he should be able to go when needed. If it is down the hall-- well, she should still be allowing him to go when needed.

And the second talk with him there is about "going when needed." Yep, he needs to hear from her, directly and clearly, with you there, that it is A-OK to ask to go when it's not the regular "group potty" time. He needs that reassurance very clearly from her. And you and she together need to assure him that he can and must let her know when it's time. And that he will not miss any fun if he goes to the toilet. As others posted here, kids tend to hold it because they are afraid they will miss something.

I am rather peeved at the school nurse's conflicting comments. First it's "he needs to feel the embarrassment" and then it's "put him in a pull-up." Don't use a pull-up -- that sends him an unspoken message of "It's OK to pee in this." No way! As for embarrassment -- if other kids found out he wore a pull-up in kindergarten, and they would, believe me he would get teased for that worse than for wetting himself.

He CAN work through this and he will. He may be physically still a bit immature but the teacher and you (and the school counselor if needed) can work this out, probably pretty quickly. But I think the nurse is just not wanting to deal with it realistically.



answers from Kansas City on

I agree with talking to the teacher again. Since she never got back to you it's worth a quick chat. As a parent I understand your concerns. No one wants their kid to be embarassed and everyone looks at the situation and says the kid should just ask and be allowed to use the restroom when he needs to (do they not have bathrooms in the classroom? a lot of K classrooms here do to avoid this issue all together). A pull-up seems like a poor idea and in my opinion, goes down the humiliation route. Honestly, if the teacher is willing, I think the easiest option would be for her to tell him, hey you need to actually sit on the pot when you go in there!

Now, as a former teacher, I do get that she can't be overly concerned with his potty issues, she has a whole classroom full of kids, she doesn't know whether or not they actually go when they go in the restroom and sending kids to the restroom by themselves with a pass is less than ideal b/c they can get into all kinds of trouble! BUT, she teachers Kindergarten and these issues aren't all that uncommon at this age. So, really, your best option is to talk to her and see what she is willing to do and not do.

Hang in there...I'm sure he's ready for K, it's just a bump in the road and more than likely this will all be resolved in a month or two!


answers from Los Angeles on

My friend's son did this in kindergarten three years ago, but the accidents didn't bother him. The school put the responsibility on him (and his parents to teach him) to go when the rest of the class did, part of the skills he was expected to have as a child entering kindergarten. He and his parents were told that he was no longer in daycare or preschool and was old enough, but possibly not mature enough to follow directions, and was given the option from the beginning to ask to go to the bathroom if he needed to at any time and would be allowed to go. He was never given the option of a pull-up, but of course his mom could have sent him in one as he would have been alone when going potty.

He ultimately was told he could come back the following year since he didn't comply by the end of October, 2 months after school had begun, his behavior was deemed to be a health hazard. By the following end of August he was ready to go into first grade (kindergarten is not required by law and he met the age requirement) and had no further "accidents."

Next question: How Often Do Your Kindergarteners Have Potty Accidents If Ever?