Most children are ready to toilet train by approximately 3 years of age, but some kids need more time. School administrators expect children entering kindergarten at age 5 to be fully toilet trained, although an experienced kindergarten teacher knows to expect a few accidents -- especially at the beginning of the school year.
Scheduled Potty Time
Kindergarten-age children tend to get absorbed in what they’re doing, whether it’s a game, toy or television show. They don’t want to stop what they’e doing to go to the bathroom, but you can prevent accidents by reminding your child to go to the bathroom before beginning activities that are difficult for her to stop. If your child has difficulty remembering to go to the bathroom or does not heed her body's signals that she needs to use the toilet, build bathroom visits into her schedule. For example, you might make it simply a part of the routine for her to go to the bathroom before she can watch television or eat meals.
Your attitude about toilet training sets the stage for your child's success. Although you may be anxious or frustrated, communicating those feelings to your child only increases the stress of learning this skill. Instead, the American Academy of Pediatric’s recommends approaching toilet training as a team effort, similar to the Brazelton child-oriented approach. You can encourage and teach, but in the end he has to learn this skill himself.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, trouble using the toilet independently by age 4 or 5 is one sign of potential developmental delay. Your pediatrician can rule out any physical problems interfering with toilet training and help diagnose developmental delays.
Any source of stress can lead to toileting regression. Common causes are the birth of a new sibling, moving or marital stress between the parents. Illness, such as a bladder infection, can also cause your child to have accidents. If she has been using the toilet reliably and starts having accidents regularly, try to determine the cause. If stress is at the heart of the problem, punishments will only add to the problem and could cause long-term problems with constipation or bed wetting.
Potty Time at School
Many children in kindergarten have accidents, especially at the beginning of the year. Going to kindergarten is exciting but can also be stressful for a young child as he learns new routines and expectations. Some children have accidents simply because they do not remember where the bathrooms are or understand that they can leave the classroom if the need arises. Others have accidents due to anxiety. Alert your child's teacher if you have concerns about his toileting skills, so he can be more aware and help him avoid embarrassing accidents.