Teachers Are Seeing More Kindergartners Arrive at School Still in Diapers

Early elementary educators are saying it’s happening across the country. 😳

Photo of parents dropping off kindergartners in diapers

A concerning education trend has emerged in 2023. And no, we’re not talking about AI, aliens, or the term “menty b.” We’re talking about kindergartners arriving at school without being potty trained.

What was once a routine rite of passage achieved at home is now something educators are having to tackle. This question was recently raised on Reddit by an early childhood educator:

I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
by in Teachers

The Redditor goes on to say that they love their job working in daycare, but they’re noticing more and more that potty training is a struggle. They note that a friend working in kindergarten reported that she has “at least one in a diaper and probably another two in pull-ups.” “I cannot fathom this,” the original post ends.

In one day, the post has already received more than 1,000 comments and 3.2 upvotes. Clearly, teachers had a lot to say about this question.

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But surprisingly for a post with this kind of attention, there was very little dissent for the fact that this is happening everywhere.

What every commenter agreed on was that this discussion on potty training was about neurotypical children without developmental delays. Teachers know there are plenty of reasons—both biological and environmental—for why a child might not be toileting by age 5. But in recent years, instead of administration addressing the families of a handful of outliers, now teachers are reporting that they’re responsible for the care surrounding diapering for sometimes several children per class.

Why this is happening

Naturally, most of the comments were speculations on why this is happening all of a sudden.

Misapplied parenting advice

Most responses connected back to parenting. Teachers posited that parents were either getting straight-up bad advice or misapplying good advice to an irrelevant situation.

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by u/TJtherock from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

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by u/thecooliestone from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

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by u/nobodys_narwhal from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

Comment
by u/hotmama1230 from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

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by u/gravitydefiant from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

Parents not understanding potty training

Other comments suggested that maybe parents started teaching toilet training but didn’t teach it to mastery.

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by u/Darkranger23 from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

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by u/thefalseidol from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

The diapers themselves

One commenter didn’t dismiss the role of parents, but also offered the changes made to diapers in recent years.

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by u/Slow-Faithlessness11 from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

Schools not being firm enough on toilet training as a prerequisite

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by u/VanillaClay from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

There’s one thing it’s not …

Teachers reject the notion that these delays should be excused because of (or are even connected to) COVID.

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by from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

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by u/MCRchaeologist from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

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by u/becauseimmortal from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

What this trend could mean for kids and for teachers

Beyond the obvious point that this is just another way teachers are expected to just roll with tasks that aren’t theirs.

Accusations of impropriety

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by u/AwareRate9061 from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

Effects on personal safety, privacy, dignity

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by from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

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by from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

Teasing and bullying

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by u/MrsMusicalMama from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

Teachers confirming the trend

By far, most of the comments were reiterating the extent of the problem with examples from their workplace.

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by u/UABBlazers from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

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by u/azemilyann26 from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

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by u/AwareRate9061 from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

Finally, we think it’s important to mention that while most neurotypical kids are totally capable of being potty trained, there are cases where parents are trying their hardest and it’s just not happening.

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by u/birdmomthrowaway from discussion I’m in ECE, are we really sending kids to kinder and first grade in diapers?
in Teachers

But to the point of the bulk of the conversation happening on this Reddit thread: If we didn’t have lots of parents sending their kids to school in diapers, genuine outliers like this 5-year-old would be able to get more personalized care and attention while at school.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Let us know in the comments!

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Kindergartners in diapers? Teachers are saying it's happening across the country. Read why this is happening and what teachers worry about.