Potty Training Not Required

Potty Training Not Required

One of the many reasons I am extremely proud of my association with Romp n’ Roll is the notation at the end of class and camp descriptions that preschoolers need not be potty trained to participate. I am often shocked and dismayed to see how many programs that purport to be promoting child development and early education do make this a requirement.

Anyone who truly knows anything about child development and early education realizes just how inappropriate this is. First, it gives parents the erroneous impression that their child “should” be potty trained by a particular age. In reality, the age at which a child is ready varies enormously. There is a very wide normal range, and as long as a little one is within that range he is not “ahead” or “behind” any other child within that range.

Unfortunately, once parents receive that misimpression, they have a tendency to pressure their child into accomplishing the task. This merely transforms the process from something he eventually would have pursued enthusiastically and efficiently into an extremely unpleasant and unproductive power struggle. And virtually every expert in the field, from psychoanalysts such as Sigmund Freud to pediatricians such as T. Berry Brazelton have emphatically pointed out how this constitutes a severe danger to the child’s self-esteem and overall mental health.

So if the notation that potty training is not required brings you a sense of relief, keep in mind that it also indicates solid understanding and appreciation important developmental principles as well as enormous respect for the well-being of your preschooler.

Dr. Mike

Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at drmike@romproll.com.