Preschooler, 3, Suspended for Potty Mishaps

Filed under: In The News, Potty Training

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Many schools enforce potty training policies -- but are they fair? Credit: Corbis

Parents typically have a checklist of questions they want answered when enrolling their toddlers in preschool. Here's a new one to add: "What happens if my kid doesn't make it to the toilet on time?"

Zoe Rosso, 3, recently was suspended for a month, or until she learns not to have any more "accidents," from Arlington Public School's Montessori preschool at Claremont Elementary, the Washington Post reports.

"The principal told me that Zoe had had enough chances," Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso, Zoe's mom, tells the newspaper. "That seemed absurd to me. It came as a total shock."

Now, Rosso is asking the school district to change its policy. She tells the Post she's had to close down her business for a month while scrambling to find day care so she can work and pay the monthly $835 tuition.

Rosso says she's on a "Potty Manifesto" mission because potty training poses a challenge for all working parents.

"We would like Arlington County to revise its policy so that other kids and other families won't have their lives disrupted like this for something that's totally developmentally normal," Rosso tells the Post. "If a kid is emotionally and intellectually ready for school ... then they should have the ability to go, regardless of whether their bladder has caught up with their brain."

Experts says preschool can be a challenging time on the potty training front.

The policy is "ridiculous," and should be removed, Elizabeth Page, an early childhood specialist and executive director of the Falls Church-McLean Children's Center, tells the newspaper.

"Potty training is very, very individual, just like learning to walk and learning to read," she tells the Post. "You can try to force a child to be potty trained, but it's like asking a pig to fly. It frustrates you and irritates the pig."

Charmaine Ciardi, a child development psychologist, tells the Post preschool potty training policies vary widely because of state licensing requirements for hygiene, financing for staff or simply due to staff preferences.

"In this time when people are more sensitive with issues of nudity and sexuality and children, some people are more reluctant to change a child," she says.

But policies that push children toward toilet training at a uniform age put "too much stress on everybody," Penny Glass, director of the Child Development Center at Children's National Medical Center, tells the Post. "To be successful with toilet training, it's much better not to force."

Arlington's Office of Early Childhood is reviewing Rosso's request, but spokeswoman Linda Erdos tells the newspaper that requiring 3-year-olds to be toilet trained has been county policy for decades.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.