Late toilet training has always raised eyebrows. Lately, society has seen a change in the perceived “perfect” time to potty train children. Over the past 10 years, many parents listen to bad advice and are told to “wait until their child is ready.” Some sat this is less stressful on both children and parents. But it also has many different consequences. Unfortunately, it also affects day care providers and the parents’ pocketbook.
Let’s look at the impact keeping a child in pull-ups or diapers longer has on their relationships.
According to the website Potty Training Concepts, the average age of potty training of kids today is 30 months (approximately 2 1/2 years old). It also has a wide range from 18-60 months. 60 months means it is not uncommon for a 5-year-old to still be in diapers and not even started toilet training. Consequently, this shows there are 5-6 year olds still in diapers at all times, effectively incontinent.
Why are older children not potty-trained?
The approach of potty training kids “when they are ready” is only half of the blame. Until the disposable diaper was invented in the 1950’s, it was desirable to get children out of diapers as soon as possible. Parents spent a great amount of time, effort, and cleaning up afterwards to get their children trained early. Cloth diapers also had a unique advantage to accelerate being potty trained – they felt wet.
Today’s disposable diapers with their absorbent core, leak guards, and other features allow kids to wet without feeling discomfort. Likewise, they have allowed parents to choose changing vs cleaning. Potty training children, especially if a child is reluctant, can be stressful. Today’s busy parents may find it easier to change a 5, 6 or 7-year-old’s diaper than put up with the stress of potty training their child. Since the leading diaper companies are making pull-ups and diapers for older kids, parents have no problem using them. Oftentimes until the child themselves expresses a desire to not wear them anymore.
Problems at day-care for late toilet training
General wisdom says that children who are potty-trained will be better suited to achieving success at day care and pre-school classes. But this is turning out not to be the case. Some day cares and pre-schools may have most of their class still in diapers. Because of this, some providers may not take potty-breaks for the trained children. Or, worse, require a potty-trained child to wear a diaper because it is easier to simply change diapers than take each child to the restroom throughout the day.
Imagine being potty-trained and not being allowed to use the restroom, resulting in wetting yourself. This leads to frustration and tears. Not to mention a loss of self-confidence and embarrassment.
Diapers in elementary school
Because of the larger disposable diaper products, many children start attending full-time school wearing these types of diapers. Schools could once require children to be potty-trained, but laws regarding accessibility and anti-discrimination laws help to allow older children to attend school while wearing diapers full time.
Hepatitis: A Risk of older children in diapers
Wearing diapers to school for older children can also be a health risk. The risk of Hepatitis A in day care and elementary schools increases when more children wear diapers. Hepatitis A is spread after contact with contaminated urine or feces. Older children can change themselves and may not have supervision. As such, they may not wash their hands and then play with toys other children. These other children may put the toy in their mouths, spreading germs to others. As more and more children attend school wearing Pull-Ups, Goodnites, or bigger diapers, the risk of Hepatitis is sure to rise.
Other Health Risks Of Late Toilet Training
Children who experience late toilet training and still wear diapers may be at risk for infections or constipation. Children who have not been potty-trained may not know how to effectively empty their bladders and bowels. They may simply release and stop rather than completely emptying. This can result in retained urine and possible cause infection. Not having regular or complete bowel movements may lead to constipation as well.
Perfect time to toilet train?
Many parents ask what is the perfect time to toilet-train their child. There is no exact answer. Toilet training at 18-months seems to be a good average for starting a training program. Be careful listening to diaper companies suggesting to let the child decide. If you do, your child may be quite older before they are dry. While potty training can be a stressful time, taking responsibility and initiative in properly training your child by the age of 3 will be worth it.
There will always be diapers, Pull-Ups or the next best thing for older kids wetting the bed. But, not potty training a child until 4,5,6 or later should be discouraged. There is no reason most children can’t be potty-trained during the day at least 4 or 5 years of age, unless a medical or mental deficiency is present. By not having late toilet training, you may save $300/year or more on diaper costs as well. In the end, you are the parent control the road your child takes towards potty-training success. You don’t let your child decide other things about their health, so take an active role in potty-training.
Your child won’t hate you for it, some day they might even thank you.