How We Almost Got Expelled from Preschool

So Lily was FINALLY potty trained(ish) just in the nick of time to start preschool. She still had a lot of accidents and refused to take herself to the bathroom… or even announce she had to go (it was really more of a making sure she went regularly thing at that point), but the head teacher said she’d be willing to work with her. We agreed that someone would encourage Lily to use the potty before circle time, after snack and before they went outside. Surely that would keep her dry enough until she learned to tell people when she had to go, right?

The first day of preschool, I was ecstatic to find Lily completely dry, only to discover she had not used the bathroom at all. Was this a success? I wasn’t sure. Maybe if she never HAD TO pee at preschool we could skip this whole potty training at preschool thing. Hey, I used to hold it for 6 hours a day at school because I hated public restrooms. Maybe she would do the same?


The second day of preschool, she had THREE accidents and never once used the bathroom for a teacher.

The third day of preschool, she was dry, but hadn’t used the bathroom. (So the secret was to never let her drink?)

The fourth day of preschool she had two accidents and refused to use the bathroom for a teacher.

At that point we discussed matters with the head teacher. Lily was refusing to allow ANYONE to take her to the bathroom because of her stranger danger. She was terrified of having a stranger take her potty.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. She has always been terrified of adults who aren’t members of our family (and some who are). After 3 years of hanging out with some of the moms in my playgroup at least once a week, she STILL wouldn’t talk to ANY of them because she was so shy. And you know how terrifying those playgroup moms are! Offering her cookies and smiling at her! YIKES!

Her preschool is part of a training program for university early childhood education majors. Every other day she had a completely different batch of student teachers– and there were a ton of student teachers to get used to. It was nearly one on one preschool student/student teacher ratio. They were all strangers to her that first week and they were all trying to get her to use the bathroom.

Given her fear of adults, how could I not know this wouldn’t go well?! She was scared to have them take her to the bathroom and you know? In a way, she was right. Strangers shouldn’t be helping her in the bathroom!

I had to teach her that it was ok for strangers to see her pee… which just seems wrong, doesn’t it? It’s a very strange message to give to a 3 year old. I mean, stranger danger helps keep her safe, but in order for her to be in preschool I had to shatter her stranger danger in the creepiest possible way: convince her to let people see her naked.

It’s just so wrong.

But it had to be done if we wanted to keep her in preschool.

I came up with a plan and the awesome head teacher was willing to work with me when she heard about Lily’s social anxiety. Every day, I personally introduced Lily to a special student teacher who was assigned to take Lily potty. The teacher came into the bathroom with us when we got there so Lily could see that I thought it was ok for this particular person to take her to the bathroom. Then the teacher would lead Lily by the hand to the restroom a few times during the day.

It was a little complicated and I think most preschool teachers would have sent us packing at this point, but you know what? It worked! Sure, there were still accidents, and one of the student teachers she wouldn’t pee for for WEEKS (there would ALWAYS be accidents on Thursdays!), but once she realized I trusted these people in the bathroom with her, she started peeing in the right place.

Phew! Still seems like the opposite thing you should be teaching your child, but hooray for not having to drop out of preschool!

It took the rest of the semester to get her to speak more than a word at a time to any of the teachers, but at least she was peeing in the right place!

Tomorrow (presuming we survive the storms predicted for the next 24 hours from when I wrote this post): Potty Training Regression.



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2 Responses to How We Almost Got Expelled from Preschool

  1. Pingback: The Force Field (aka Why I Ignore Nighttime Pee) | Creative Kids Play

  2. Pingback: 2 Steps Forward, 3 Steps Back: Potty Training Regression | Creative Kids Play

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