I've had the very unpleasant experience of seeing the aftermath when my 3-year-old tries to wipe her own poop on the potty. Let's just say it looks like something out of a horror movie, and so I've asked her to please call me for help when she's done in the bathroom.
But she goes to preschool two days a week, and I've often worried about her taking care of her bathroom needs there. I ask her every day when I pick her up: "Did you use the potty?" One day she told me she held her poop because the teachers won't help her wipe.
I don't know whether that's true, but it does raise an interesting question about what teachers are allowed to do in this realm. One North Carolina mom says teachers refused to help her 5-year-old daughter after she had an accident, and when she came to the school, her little girl was covered in her own feces.
"When I entered the restroom, she had her hands up. She was standing in a corner and it was poop all over hands," the mom, who received a call from Frazier Elementary School in Greensboro, informing her of the accident, told WGHP-TV. "She had poop all over her hands, on her legs, her backside, her front side. There was poop all over the floor, on the walls and on the door."
The mom, who didn't want to share her full name, says her daughter was alone in the bathroom with a pack of wipes, despite the fact that she was assured teachers would take care of the situation. Understandably, this mom says she was heartbroken to see her little girl in this predicament.
For their part, the school principal Nicole Hill told WGHP-TV in a statement, "Any time a student or family does not feel cared for in our school, we are genuinely concerned. Guilford County Schools and Frazier Elementary are deeply committed to creating the best environments possible for students to learn and thrive. This did not occur in this particular situation, and we have apologized to the parent. We are also working to make sure that this will not occur again at our school."
But the damage has been done, as the little girl no longer wants to go to school. I'm sure she's embarrassed, and I fault the school for not giving her the dignity this situation deserved. "She cried, 'The kids were picking on me, everyone was holding their nose, saying something stinks,'" her mom heartbreakingly shared.
Here's ultimately what I want to know: Why would they tell the mom the accident would be handled if they weren't going to follow through on this promise? I'd be most upset about that aspect if my daughter had an accident at school. Either truly handle it, or tell me to come to school so I can. Don't put my little one in a situation where she is alone, and scared, and doesn't know how to clean herself up properly so she can rejoin her class.
Incidentally, this little girl was placed in a new classroom with a new teacher. But the school needs to have a clear policy on how exactly they would handle a similar situation in the future. And I need to have a talk with my daughter's school about what they would do, so I'm not caught off guard, and so my child is never in this truly unacceptable position.
In general, Dr. Steve Hodges, associate professor of pediatric urology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and coauthor of Bedwetting and Accidents Aren't Your Fault, tells Parents.com, "We have to find a way to manage elimination health in schools better." While the policy on helping with wiping varies school to school, Hodges says many teachers figure kids can take care of themselves in the bathroom, but that isn't necessarily true.
In general, at the age of 5, kids are going to have trouble with wiping, says Dr. Hodges. But he adds that poop accidents are rare at this age. "It could be that she was holding," he says about the Greensboro child. And that is a very unhealthy habit to adopt. He offers these tips for helping kids prepare to poop at school:
Teachers can learn more about toilet trouble prevention here.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.