Parents, the Chief Inspector of Schools says ‘It’s all your fault’….

How about this for a headline in the Sunday Times:

In an interview in the Sunday Times yesterday, Amanda Spielman, the Chief Inspector of Schools said that 70% of schools are reporting an increase in the number of four year olds starting schools in nappies, and that teachers should not have to deal with this. 

Spielman said that in every single school she visited, the head teacher has told her that at least one child arrived in reception wearing nappies.  As a result of this and trends in the growth of childhood obesity, she has called for the introduction of parenting classes.

She said potty training was ‘a normal part of parenting in every other country’ and it was ‘startling’ that parents were letting their children continue to wear nappies for years.

Spielman went on to say that it should not be left to schools and that the problem might be partly fuelled by middle-class parents who can easily afford expensive ‘pull up’ disposable nappies that children can comfortably wear until they are five. 

She has called on parents to stop being their children’s best friend and to start teaching them how to grow up properly.

We believe parents take full responsibility for potty training.

We conducted market research this summer and asked over 1,100 parents who they thought was responsible for potty training their children. 

The overwhelming view of parents is that they believe they are responsible for potty training their children.  85% of respondents felt they were personally responsible for potty training.  Less than 1% thought their childcare provider was responsible for potty training. The majority of the 8% who replied ‘other’ thought everyone was responsible.

We fundamentally disagree with any suggestion that children are arriving in school not potty trained due to lazy parenting or because middle class families can afford expensive nappies.  Potty Training will save the average household £40 per month, and I doubt there are many parents today who wouldn’t be thankful to have this money to spend on something else. 

We agree ‘pull-up’ style nappies are partly to blame.

The statistic that does align with all the research we have read and conducted is that potty training is starting later and lasting longer. This trend is partly attributed to the widespread use of disposable nappies, and we believe it’s partly due to the comfort of the nappies but more importantly it’s due to the fact that the new technology means nappies are drier and children don’t feel wet, therefore it is harder to learn the first stage of potty training which is understanding when an accident has occurred. This can also make it harder for parents to recognise when their child is ready for potty training and if the window of opportunity is missed it can result in the process taking longer and other continence issues with wee and poo developing.

A study in Australia carried out by Anna Christie et al reported that some children who do not receive bladder training at a suitably early age are developing dysfunctional bladder, with associated incontinence problems. This finding has been backed up by Belgian researchers who interviewed the parents of children in grade school and middle school (Bakker et al 2002a, Bakker et al 2002b) and found that school-age children with bladder problems – like daytime accidents, bedwetting, and recurrent urinary tract infections – were more likely to have started toilet training after 32 months.

It could therefore be the case that more children are having accidents in school because of continence issues, possibly due to delayed potty training and prolonged use of disposable nappies.

How do we resolve this issue? By providing clear potty training guidance when the child is two.

Blaming parents for neglecting their obligations is not helpful, especially as our research has shown that parents already feel responsible for this milestone.

There is a wealth of information on the internet, but there is no one clear policy for potty training. Often advice received is conflicting and it can be difficult to know when to start or how best to go about toilet training. Previously all children saw a health Visitor for a two year check, but discussions we’ve had with health professionals have led us to believe this is not always the case nowadays. The check is sometimes replaced with a letter sent to parents.

We have set up a free course to help parents

We have established a free online potty training academy in response to the huge volume of questions and requests for advice we receive from parents. In the past they frequently told us they were stressed by the process and didn’t know where to turn for advice.

We now run a four week online course, through our website, where we break down potty training into easy steps and then guide parents through each stage. We developed the course in partnership with Children’s Continence Charity ERIC and Health professionals we have worked with over the last ten years. We have already helped 4,500 parents who have joined and we are certain that this reflects the need for clear guidelines and the desire for parents to take responsibility for successfully completing this milestone.

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2 comments on “Parents, the Chief Inspector of Schools says ‘It’s all your fault’….

  1. Mel Springthorpe on

    As a parent of 3 whom I never had any issues potty training, I now find that I’m potty training my just turned 3 year old grandson who lives with me, both myself and my husband work full time and my little one is in full time nursery I am finding consistency a real issue with nursery and we always have a wee or poo accident on a daily basis, it’s been going on for 3 months! Nurseries are unfortunately leaving children to learn for themselves with no real training for the child being provided.

    • Di Titterton on

      Hi Mel, we have heard this from many parents and unfortunately some nurseries struggle with resources and there are often no clear toilet training guidelines for the nursery staff to follow. The result is that children are then put back in nappies or struggle with lots of accidents. Dry Like Me pads may help with the stress and mess of accidents, may help learning and may be a good compromise for the nursery to use rather than pull ups/nappies. If your grandson has a key worker then it might be an idea to try to organise a meeting with them and talk about how you are approaching potty training and agree a joint plan for moving forward. We would also be very happy for nurseries to join up to our free course and if they contact us directly we would be happy to talk to them and offer some resources too. Good luck, it must be quite frustrating especially as you have been there and cracked potty training 3 times already!


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