Dealing with Preschool Potty Accidents

My daughter started preschool this week, and overall it has been a wonderful experience. She loves her teachers and knows several of her classmates, and is eager to return each day.

Our preschool requires that children be fully potty trained to enter the 3-year-old program, and since my daughter has been potty trained for a few months now, I thought we were in the clear. I was wrong.

Today she had 2 potty accidents and the school called because she didn’t have any more changes of clothes. When I arrived at the preschool, my daughter was sitting alone at a table, embarrassed and crying. Her teacher had been sitting with her prior to my arrival and told me that my daughter was very upset, telling her teacher that “I’m not a big girl anymore.”

I handled the situation the best way I knew how, by assuring her that it was okay and that no one was mad at her. I calmly changed her and encouraged her to say goodbye to her friends.

For newly potty trained children, accidents and regression go hand in hand with new experiences like starting preschool. But ever since I read about children being suspended from preschools for potty accidents, I’ve been a little more sensitive about the matter. I know that our preschool wouldn’t resort to this tactic but the question remains: If my daughter was so traumatized from 2 potty accidents in one day, how damaging would it be for her to be suspended from school because of this issue?

I can’t imagine how upsetting a situation that would be.

What’s my plan for dealing with preschool potty accidents before it becomes a more serious issue?

1. Reassure my daughter

She could be embarrassed to tell a new teacher that she needs to go to the potty. I plan to reassure her that her teacher cares about her and is there to help. Going potty is just a part of that.

2. Stay positive

For each day that my 3-year-old does not have an accident, I plan to give her a sticker to positively reinforce her behavior. We know that for this age, positive reinforcement is effective.

3. Speak with the teacher about my concerns

As a parent, I have potty trained 3 toddlers. As a professional, my daughter’s preschool teacher has dealt with this issue many more times than I have. I plan to enlist her expertise and see what her advice is.

Have you experienced potty training setbacks because of preschool? How did you deal with it?

Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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