Reception age DS soiling at school... Advice needed please [Long, sorry!](42 Posts)
DS has just started reception this month. He is 4.5 yrs old.
DS has found it quite difficult to adjust to reception, has been very clingy and tearful when it is time for me to leave, although this seems to be slowly getting better.
However he has also been soiling himself. I think this is possibly due to a few different factors 1] unfamiliar environment and being unsure of the procedure for toileting, ie when he is allowed to go and when not, 2] getting engrossed in something and forgetting to go until it is too late and 3] hoping that Mummy will be contacted to come clean him up [which I have had to do on these occasions]. DS does not soil himself at home and has been toilet trained since about 3 years old.
However on Friday I was at work [I work 2 days a week] and was contacted by the school receptionist at 1.30pm to say that DS had soiled himself and could I bring in clean clothes. I said that he had spare clothes in his school bag... receptionist went to classroom to check and came back to say that yes he was in these spare jogging bottoms and hence it seemed he had already been changed and he seemed okay. I said I would come to the school if necessary but at this point it didn't seem to be so.
At around 2.45pm I finished a meeting with clients to see there was a missed call from the school [at 2.30pm] asking me to call them, no other details. I called school back and had to leave a message on their voicemail. I figured something was up and called DH at work to warn him that DS might need to be collected [DH works closer to school but is still approx an hours travel away - central London to Zone 3].
At nearly 3pm I had a very snippy member of school staff [who I suspect may have been deputy head] call me back saying that DS needed to be collected as he had soiled again. I said I would contact DH to collect but that he would be an hour away. Member of staff unimpressed that it would take an hour to collect DS...
Anyway, DH arrived to collect DS just before 4pm and was immediately whisked into a meeting with Deputy Head [with still pooey DS]. DH said he felt ambushed as Deputy Head [and DS class teacher] basically read him the riot act, that it was unacceptable that I apparently had been informed that DS needed to be collected at 1.30pm [I wasn't] and I was then not contactable. Apparently school also tried to contact DH but they had his contact number wrong.
This is one issue but the other was that both Deputy Head and Class Teacher also made out that it was unacceptable that DS was soiling himself, according to Class Teacher he is the only child to do so and really should be toilet trained [all this said in front of DS ].
I am so angry about all of this and am planning to request a meeting with Deputy Head and Class Teacher on Monday.
However I am wondering if any of you lovely ladies, parents or teachers can advise me on how to present my case on Monday?
I of course have to hear the school's side of it but from mine I would like to know more about the school's continence policy and whether it is always the parent's responsibility to come in and clean child up. When DH came to collect DS he said that DS was covered in poo .
I would also like to know what support they can offer us to help DS stop soiling at school, i.e is there a school nurse who can advise us or is there access to a behaviourial/educational psychologist who can give us advice on how to motivate and encourage DS to start using the toilets independently at school rather than soiling himself?
I actually feel the school have been quite unhelpful up to this point and have offered very little support or advice re DSs anxieties and issues.
I am feeling concerned and cross and wonder if this is the right school for him? Or is this normal for a state school?
Quote from NUT guidelines "*that there is no legal requirement for 2 adults to be present in such circumstances and that such a requirement might in any case be impractical*".
The policy at our school is that we protect pupils and staff by always ensuring that there are two staff available to change pupils or look under clothes (at a rash or bruised area for example). Otherwise staff could leave themselves open to accusations of abuse etc. Sad, but true.
Please don't think you are the only one. DD is now in Y1 and had an accident the other week, she had a few accidents in YR but the TAs were lovely and helped her- they had a stash of clean pants/clothes for the kids. And I can't believe your son is the only one in the class, bearing in mind some of the children have only recently turned 4 or who may have only been at home or half day nursery sessions before starting school I would think poo accidents happen quite regularly. We found the 'poo lady' (continence nurse) helpful as DD was holding it in for days. I found the whole poo thing quite stressful, I would never have thought I would be a hostage to someone else's bowel movements!
If you are not happy with the school's attitude/behaviour in general then perhaps discuss with the LEA about your options.
I hope it all gets resolved and your DS starts to enjoy school soon.
Sorry, as in the 3 parents all didn't know there was an orientation day. So something not quite right with teacher to parent communication or maybe an admin issue?
DS has now been saying he doesn't like his teachers or the other students at his school and he doesn't want to go there. I have tried to be upbeat and confident, I don't want him to get anxious about my anxiety...
But I am starting to feel quite upset about it all to be honest and just really feel for DS. I don't feel like I can comfortably leave him in the school's care for such a long day. I am losing trust in their ability to care for him.
I have now made an appointment to see the GP as I wonder if we can get a child psychology review, maybe they might have some advice about settling him in and dealing with DSs anxieties.
May also have a chat with LEA to see if they have any thoughts...
Thanks everyone for your support and advice. I am aware that this is now a really long thread to plow through... but I hope maybe my experience will make some parents of soiling school age children realise they are definitely not alone irrespective of what their child's school may report!
insancerre this is exactly the problem.
There was very little orientation.
About a month before school started DS and I were invited into school to spend an hour in the classroom and meet the teachers.
The school's nursery children who were due to move up to reception were already in the classroom, in their uniform and sitting on the mat.
So DS and I just wandered around looking at various things in the classroom and the teacher and TA both said hello and that was about it.
Then he started on full days, 9am to 3.15pm, in September.
I actually tackled the head teacher about the lack of an orientation day or half days start with a gradual move to full days.... and he said a] that there was an orientation day in July and he was surprised we didn't get the letter and b] that they had found that the children settled in better with immediate full school days rather than half days moving on to full days...
I did say well I don't think it has worked that well for my son but he wasn't very receptive tbh. And I have asked 3 different parents now whether they knew about or attended an orientation day with their reception child and all 3 have said no !!!
that's awful nutcrackerfairy
I don't think that teachers know an awful lot about child development.
Does the nursry nurse not realise that she is probably adding to the problem by saying that she is tired of cleaning him up?
I am shocked that anyone would say that to a child.
Out of interest, what sort of induction arrangements were there before he started school?
As anxiety about routines and going to the toiet in unfamiliar settings are exactly the reasons why children should have a well thought out and gradual introduction to school before they start.
Thank you cartoad.
DS said that the nursery nurse at school had told him she was tired of cleaning his bottom... which may or may not be true I guess... but I feel he may be holding it in because he doesn't want to make teachers cross.
The lovely continence nurse yesterday also felt that this could be the case...
I am now off for 48 hours with a child who definitely does not have diarrhoea... I am worried that this is going to be a regular occurrence... every time he does a poo at school they are going to deem it diarrhoea and hence he gets kept off... I feel we are being treated a bit like a nuisance to the school and how can I argue with them? If the teacher says he has diarrhoea there is no leeway, he has to be kept off.
The 'problem' for us is that apparently there is no other child in the class who is having poo accidents, they told us that DS was the only one.
So the teachers treat us as if we are nuisance and that DS should be toilet trained... they say it's okay [but are also always reporting 'incidents' to me] so are sort of nice to my face but there is very little reassurance and I am constantly called to school to sort it out in one way or another...
It's hard to explain but I am definitely given the impression that DS is abnormal for having poo accidents and that it is not really the teacher's job to deal with it either practically or via advice and support... it is my responsibility [which I agree with to a certain extent hence my visits to GP, nurse and starting reward charts at home with DS] and they report the 'incidents' to me to be aware of and deal with.
I don't know if it makes any difference per se but both the class teacher and nursery nurse in the class are quite young, late twenties to early thirties and I wonder how experienced they are and whether they have children of their own. Because they seem quite bemused/irritated by my son's behaviour's although I am understanding from being on here/ERIC/GP/Continence Nurse that it is not that unusual in reception age children [particularly when they are only nearly 3 weeks in!
ds2 had this problem last year - he was also 4.5 when he started and his teacher and TA (officially listed as a nursery nurse I think rather than a TA) were both fab and really understanding. There were several other children that had similar problems too. And if one of them had an accident, they were quietly whisked off and cleaned up, (I used to leave a spare set of clothes, wipes and bags at school, plus his gym kit was there), never told off, just jollied along with a never mind, we can sort you out now, here we go, all clean and sorted and popped back into lessons with no fuss. And they had loads of spare clothes on the odd occasion he had more than one accident or if I had forgotten to take a spare set back in with me.
Bizarrely, ds2 was fine with poos but having lots of wet accidents until one day I made the mistake of saying something about this (you know how as you are saying something you think bugger, shouldn't have mentioned that!) and the next day he started to have poo accidents . He's now in year one and he's only had one accident so far (that I know of - that's another big issue - not telling people) and the thing that is working the best is bribery - day to day success gets time on the ipad or wii etc (his choice) and occasionally a square of chocolate if he mentions it. And then if he manages a full dry week another little bribe. I have stocked up on hot wheels cars in the pound shop and other little things they had in there that I knew he would like... So nothing mega big but something to make it worth trying every day. At the weekend we've said that he can't play on the ipad etc in the mornings but he can in the afternoons if he doesn't have an accident (not all afternoon though!). And even if he does have an accident, we say he can have a go on his favourite game before bed time if he stays dry from then on so there is a reason to make an effort and stay dry - not that he should need a reason! - but have noticed that if there isn't something on the horizon and he is having a bad day accident-wise for whatever reason, then if there is nothing to aim for because you have lost your treat then there's no point bothering to go to the loo, and he just kept having accidents. So always having a little something up your sleeve to use as a bribe for the day works well!
Good luck and hope the teachers are a little more sympathetic. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciated the teacher and TA and the kind way they handled ds2 when having accidents meant - and if they had handled them the way that your ds has been handled, I'm sure they would have made the problem a whole lot worse.
Awww, So pleased the GP and the nurse were great. But please don't feel bad about choosing the school. It's hard, choices are often limited and how were you to know? If they continue to be less supportive then you can move him. In fact, I would seriously consider telling them that you are so upset by their handling of this that you are considering moving him. I so hope it will all improve for your lovely little boy and you all very soon. xxx
Well went to see GP yesterday and she was great, really engaged and supportive.
She doesn't think DS is unwell or has diarrhoea [I agree]. She felt his belly to check for impacted faecal matter and all was well there too.
She gave me a leaflet for drop in service for continence nurses and by luck their drop in service was a local clinic this morning. As DS was already off school with 'diarrhoea' I was able to take him [he has been fine, he definitely does not have diarrhoea!].
Anyway the continence nurse was so lovely and kind and reassuring and she gave such helpful supportive advice... I ended up in tears as it has been the first time [apart from lovely GP] that I have felt someone in a professional capacity was on my side and trying to find solutions to this issue.
Basically nurse also feels DS is not constipated nor does he have diarrhoea. She says it is very normal in her experience for reception age children to regress in their toileting habits when they enter a new school and start going for long days [DSs school starts the reception year on long days from the very beginning].
She did not feel he was intolerant to something in school dinners [as TA felt] and said she feels it would be disruptive to move him to packed lunches now when he has gotten used to school dinner routine.
She suggested a reward chart for dry pants at school with a little reward at the end of each dry day to make it seem realistically achievable to DS.
However the best thing [I almost kissed her for this] is that she said she would put DS on the school nurse list and that he would then get further support from this service at school with continence planning.... and that the nurse would also liaise with the teachers. And this is my major issue as I feel the teachers really don't understand that this is not abnormal behaviour for a 4.5 year old reception age child... and I am thus met with their mild panic/disapproval and I wonder how it is for DS... is this why he is perhaps too afraid to try and poo and school for fear of getting it wrong and therefore tries to hold it in, leading to accidents... and the vicious cycle continues
I actually feel quite guilty that I have chosen the wrong school for DS. There have been other minor issues where I have wondered what surreal universe the staff inhabit... but understand that schools are chaotic busy places and can't always be on top of all issues.
But their reactions and responses to DSs soiling have left me feeling quite anxious and demoralised.
Oh no! Sorry it's an ongoing situation. I'm also sorry but I love the pooing on the floor incident! That is hilarious and just shows that he is internalising the message that pooing in pants should ideally be avoided. I do hope you get some good support from the GP.
teachers and their aversion to poo always amazes me
it possibly could be constipation and faecal impaction, especially if he has been holding it in
the school doesn't sound very child-centred to me
dealing with toileting issues should be par for the course, especially when you consider the child a whole
they really can't separate education and personal care at 4
they have to view the child holistically
God poor you. No advice but what a situation. Fingers crossed it all settles quickly.
Was called into school this afternoon as DS has had diarrhoea.
Apparently his teacher took him to the toilet and he did nothing... a little later was sitting on the mat and then did runny poo all down his legs
Teacher concerned he may be unwell and I have to keep him off school for 48 hours. However he seems well in himself, starving hungry and active
He has a Drs appointment this afternoon and I think I will keep this as Ds seems absolutely fine and it will be interesting to hear what GP thinks about it all... Teacher wonders if Ds might have some sort of food intolerance [perhaps to something in school dinners?] and lady at ERIC thought it might be constipation/faecal impaction with then liquid poo overflow...
Aw - it's horrible when it happens to you, but at least the school are slightly more on board now, and you've got the contact deals of ERIC for further support and advice.
An incredibly high number of children don't want to use school toilets - this is a problem that is a lot more common than anyone would ever know, as it's not the kind of thing that you talk about with acquaintances!
But today I was told there was an "incident"... apparently DS pulled his pants down in the playground and pooed on the ground!
When I questioned DS about it he said that he hadn't been able to get to the toilet as there was a locked gate to go through [from the playground] and no teacher available to ask to take him...
I think in his mind he can't see what he's done wrong as at least he didn't poo his pants!
I said "But if you poo on the ground then one of the children might step in it!" and he said "Nobody stepped in it, someone picked it up, they had gloves on."
Poor teachers... I just said "Well would you want to pick up someone else's poo?" and he said "No..." so I'm hoping the message may have got through.
Seriously though, nearly 4 weeks in to his first year of school and it has been pretty horrendous... both for DS and for me.
Nutcracker. Excellent. That's very positive. I am pleased the school was helpful in the end.
It can take time to settle in. Also remember bowel habits can vary if you DS has had a cold or cough. It can go either way. With my DD she usually gets constipated after a virus but my DS gets very loose movements.
Hugs to you.
Well, I went into the school yesterday afternoon and spoke to both the Deputy Head and Class Teacher [they attended the same meeting].
Basically the gist was that the school does not have a continence policy nor access to a school nurse... but they do have someone who I think may be termed a pupil liaison worker or some such and they can offer extra support for those students who require it... So the Deputy Head was going to set up a meeting with her for me and DS and we can then devise a plan of action between us [maybe referral to school nurse if required?].
Otherwise what was agreed was that the class teacher would be extra vigilant around DS and toilet breaks, particularly after lunch when these accidents seem to occur.
I agreed to provide a few sets of spare clothes and wet wipes for cleaning him up if accidents occurred.
I was able to confirm with school that DS was toilet trained... but after talking with a very helpful lady at ERIC it was suggested that I take him to GP to check if he might be constipated and require movical... and if this was the case the GP could also write to the school to confirm this and set in motion a specific care plan around his needs...
Otherwise I have just been gently encouraging DS to let his teachers know when he needs to poo and that he can do this at school as it is uncomfortable for him to poo in his pants and doing it in the toilet is much better...
We shall see how it goes... No poo accidents yesterday at school but he did a big one in the morning at home [sorry if tmi!] and today he didn't... so I hope the poor little thing does it when he needs to in the toilet there and doesn't try and hold on until he can't anymore
Thank you everyone for your very helpful advice and support.
I have written down all the pertinent information from the links that have been kindly shared here, I think the ERIC information was particularly useful to have and I will quiz the school about their continence policy and arranging a continence care plan.
I am very happy to work with the school on this and accept that DS can be very stubborn, saying he doesn't need the toilet when he does, etc....
But he is only 4 and still in his first month of reception class. I just feel that the school could have been a lot more helpful and proactive in meeting with me and letting me know they had the situation in hand, meanwhile perhaps giving me some tips on how to best manage the situation, i.e in making sure I send DS into school with spare clothes and wet wipes.
Anyway, I will see what school has to say this week when I meet with them [and will report outcome back here!].
Thanks again everyone, you've all been so kind and helpful.
Nutcracker. Am around for handholding. Tethers links are v useful.
Both DD and my DS are July babies and will consequently be starting school just after turning 4 (DD already started obv). DD has been very good with toilet training and was dry and clean both day and night quickly.
However if her routine changes ie like changing hours of pre school or starting reception, she is out of sorts for a while and has accidents. She thrives on routine.
I have other friednds whose DC have started school and had similar issues to you and your DS.
I would encourage you to talk to the school.
I find it amazing that so many school deal so badly with this.
DDs teacher doesn't change her but one of the TAs or staff in the pre school dept will. And they tell me at the end of the day what happened and why they think she had an accident ie she just didn't make it in time or they were busy with painting (DDs favourite activity) etc.
I pack spare clothes in DDs bag and mostly they come home unused but handy when needed.
It helps me to know why she had am accident and it reassures that the school are very matter of fact that these things happen with 4 and 5 year olds.
Hope other can come with more advice on how to handle school.
The school should have a TA whose contract includes changing children. However if a child won't let you do it it is very very difficult. Are you sure your ds isn't refusing to let them help him? Ime most schools are very aware that they have a duty of care (although a teacher does not have to change children, they may if they are happy too! Ime teachers with chdn are much happier about poo!). If they are genuinely refusing, you need to get on their case with all the info linked.
In the last 3 weeks, my DD has come back in different clothes 6/15 days. She's been at a primary school nursery for the whole last year and only had this issue in the first term there as well.
The school just put a bag of wet clothes in her book bag. DD seems to be finding it difficult remembering in time when she's so busy doing all the new things so I hope it will settle down.
The first school-newsletter home, contained a request for parents of children in Y1 or Y2 to send in any old uniforms/underwear/tights that their children had grown out of so that they could be used for changing the little ones.
No-one has even asked to have a word with me about it and certainly wouldn't expect me to come into school and change her. Would take me well over an hour to get there anyway, ditto for DH and we have no relatives or anyone in the local area.
I would get hold of the policy and if necessary contact the LEA.
Totally unacceptable to talk about it in front of your DS - likely to make things worse not better.
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