Sending kids to school can be a stressful time for some parents and their children. You worry that they'll make friends and be able to listen properly to the teacher, and you worry that they'll actually eat the lunch you so meticulously prepared for them. Most parents assume when sending their child to school that there will never be an issue with them being able to visit the bathroom should nature call, after all, when you've gotta go, you've gotta go! This is why parents at a Las Vegas elementary school were recently alarmed when they received a letter from teachers asking them to teach their first-grade students "bladder endurance."
The letter in question was posted to the Kid-Friendly Las Vegas Facebook page that was apparently sent to parents or first-grade students by their teachers. “The first-grade teachers need your help!” the letter begins, but they're not asking for parent volunteers to help out in the classroom! The letter complained that "students are wasting valuable learning time on bathroom breaks," before continuing that "healthy first graders urinate one or two times during the school day." It goes on to state that children should be using the bathroom before school and during lunch break and that they do offer an afternoon bathroom break. Of course, they allow children to use the bathroom if it's an emergency but then write "We find that most emergencies stem from children not using the bathroom during the appointed times."
Parents were then urged to "insist" that their child use the restroom at before school begins, and to teach their child "bladder endurance." Basically these teachers want these children to "hold it" until it's a more convenient time to use the bathroom. Understandably parents were not happy with the letter. Everyone can understand that it can be disruptive to a classroom if all the children suddenly want to use the bathroom at the same time, but asking a group of first graders to 'hold it' seemed unreasonable to many, not to mention unhealthy.
Pediatric urologist Dr. Steve Hodges had previously written a post for Parents Magazine about the very issue of whether children should be expected to hold it in school or not. "Though I'm sympathetic to the challenges of managing a classroom, I believe students must be allowed to use the restroom when the urge arises—not 10 or 20 or 60 minutes later," he wrote. "It's a health issue, and it's no joke. Suppressing the urge to pee can damage a growing bladder, thickening and aggravating the bladder wall and increasing a child's risk for accidents, bedwetting, and urinary tract infections."
School principal Michelee Crawford released a letter and a Facebook live video addressing the letter and ensuring parents that the school has "never had a policy restricting bathroom breaks for students." She also noted that all official communication from the school will be first sent to administration for approval before being sent on school letterhead with proper signatures.
Does your child's school have a bathroom break policy?