Restrictive bathroom rules at school can be a problem for children with small or sensitive bladders
When ya gotta go, ya gotta go. With young children, bathroom breaks can be needed fairly frequently and, at daycare or preschool, children are usually allowed to go as often as they want. Some kindergarten classrooms have bathrooms attached to the rooms.
By grade one, however, the rules often change. Teachers find it disruptive to have children leaving the room every time nature calls and often suspect some kids are asking to be excused just to get out of doing work. Some put restrictions on visits to the washroom or seek to reduce this behaviour in other ways, and this can be a problem for the child with a small or sensitive bladder.
“I began to feel concerned when Riley would come home from school and immediately rush to the bathroom,” says Lisa Cooper of Burlington, Ont.When she questioned six-year-old Riley, Cooper discovered the source of the problem. The teacher used a reward system to let the kids know when they were pleasing her: Students who behaved appropriately got a sticker, and those who earned a certain number of stickers could pick a treat from the teacher’s “treasure chest.”
“I do have a problem with the whole sticker reward system, to be honest, because I think teachers could motivate kids in more effective ways,” says Cooper. “But it wouldn’t have been a big deal if the teacher hadn’t decided to make going to the bathroom one of the behaviours she wanted to stop.”
Excited about getting more stickers, Riley stopped going to the washroom during class — even when she really needed to go. She’d hold it until she got home from school, and Cooper was worried that she’d develop a bladder infection or have an embarrassing accident in class or on the way home.