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Should a kid have to be potty trained to start preschool?
August 21, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Here's a potentially sensitive question: why does it take so long for parents to potty train their kids these days?
The New York Times Motherlode blog had an entry this week from a mother who was fretting that a preschool wouldn't accept her son if hadn't been potty-trained. The boy is three years and 10 months old. That sounded mighty late to me, though I don't have kids myself, so maybe I don't have a right to an opinion.
My mother says she had my brother potty-trained by two and a half and I was trained a few months earlier than that. Apparently I would have been completely trained even earlier if I hadn't had to have a surgery as a toddler that put me in the hospital for 10 days. When I was babysitting as a teenager, most of the kids seemed to be trained around that age too, though the 3-year-olds might still be in Pull-Ups at night for a few months. I did a story years ago on a toddler who had been adopted from China, where all the babies are apparently trained before they are one year old.
But based on the comments from Facebook friends who have small children, I gather that the normal potty training age is now somewhere around three, rather than two, and apparently nearly four in the case of the New York Times blogger. Are parents doing this based on some parenting guru, on a doctor's advice or is it a conspiracy by diaper companies to make parents keep shelling out thousands of dollars a year for kids who require bigger and bigger diapers?
Apparently it is a problem that extends into primary school age, based on a Daily Mail story from 2012, featuring complaints from teachers of five-year-olds about frequent accidents in that age group. The teachers in England also claimed that their young students were a lot less independent than kids in years past and still needed help getting into their coats. I've also noticed that most new elementary schools built here seem to have a bathroom in the classroom for at least kids in grades K-2.
Judging from the comments from touchy parents at the New York Times blog, Massachusetts forbids preschools from refusing to admit a kid who hasn't been potty trained. I have to admit I sympathize a great deal with preschool teachers in Massachusetts.
What do you think is going on here?
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