Potty Training: My Child's Daycare Requires That He's Potty Trained!

Hi Dr. Heather, My son turned 3 in July and was potty trained in April of this year. Therefore he had four months before he started in a daycare that required him to be fully potty trained.

I have now been blindsided yesterday with an official letter stating they will not be able to continue providing him care. Last Thursday he had four BM accidents in one day, but this was a first. Do State regulations allow them to kick him out for this?

It’s also upsetting to me that the Director mailed a letter I got on the weekend, with no way to contact her until Tuesday.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks, Linda

Hi Linda,

In general, daycare programs have some flexibility in terms of how they interpret the rules. Often, it depends on the Director, and how she chooses to implement them.

4 accidents in one day? Sounds like your little guy might have had a touch of the "runs". Perhaps you could ask if they make any exceptions for illness. You can't know in advance if your kid is going to get the "runs"!

The other issue is whether this is the right place for your son. What is your relationship like with the Director and teachers? Ideally, you would select a daycare center where you have a strong working relationship with all the staff, including the boss. Issues like this come up all the time in daycare. You want to feel comfortable that you and the staff can easily chat with each other when things arise. The fact that you were blindsided by a letter concerns me. Why wouldn't she just stop you to mention her concerns at pickup time? Or at least give you a quick call? Would she write you a letter too if your son had gotten hurt during the day? You want to feel like the lines of communication are open. It makes me wonder if perhaps you might consider your options for other daycare.

Often, parents are told to check if a daycare center is licensed and accredited by an early childhood program, like the National Association for the Education of Young Children. While I agree that accreditation and licensing are important, it's only the beginning. You must do your own investigation of the place before you decide what's best for your child. Don't just accept the first place that has an opening for you, or go on a center's "reputation". Much of your satisfaction in a daycare will have to do with the quality and personality of the specific caregivers and teachers. There's simply no substitute for finding out about the people who will be spending hours a day with your baby.

Here's a quick rundown of things to consider in deciding on a daycare for your young child:

What do the other parents say about the center? Are they satisfied? Are their children happy to go to the daycare?

What kind of staff turnover do they have? You want a place where the caregivers like their jobs, feel supported by the Director, and stay at the center for more than just a few months. And how long has the Director been on the job, as well?

Ask the Director how they handle issues such as the one mentioned by Linda. Will they call you or chat with you, or will you have to wait for an "official" letter? You want the lines of communication to be freely open. You want to get a daily verbal report on how your child's day went, and any changes in the center.

Talk directly with the caregivers who will be responsible for your child. How long have they been at this center? Do they enjoy their work? What kinds of children do they consider challenging? What do they like most about their work? Let them know that you will be an involved parent who is willing to be a cooperative partner in caring for your child, and who also wants to know what's going on at the Center on a daily basis.

Observe your child at play at the center. You know your child best. How does she respond to the caregivers and environment? If the center won't allow parent observations....KEEP LOOKING.

If the staff don't seem to have time for your questions, or convey the feeling that you should be grateful to be accepted into the program...KEEP LOOKING. I know it can be hectic finding daycare arrangements, and parents often feel they have no choice. Don't ever accept that. I'm here to tell you that there are always options, if you're willing to look around, ask questions, and be patient. The time you take to find the right daycare will be more than worth the hassle in the long run!

Many of us have "daycare horror stories", and have learned the hard way how to find quality childcare. Can you give some other tips to Linda, and other parents out there who are struggling to find the right daycare?


Dr. Heather The BabyShrink