A Toilet Break is a Right Not a Privilege


It is absolutely bewildering to me how obsessive some teachers get about toilet breaks. Sure, they can be a disturbance to class and it can get very annoying to have a student ask to go to the toilet only minutes after recess, but you just don’t interfere with a child’s need to go to the toilet.

I wouldn’t dare stop a child who badly needs to go to the toilet from going:

The mother of a seven-year-old boy at an elementary school in Irving, Texas says her son wet his pants in class because he hadn’t accumulated enough good behavior credits to secure a trip to the bathroom.

The teacher at J.O. Davis Elementary rewards students for good behavior with “Boyd Bucks,” reports KXAS-TV5 in Dallas-Fort Worth. Her students can use the restroom outside of three scheduled breaks throughout the day, but the price of each trip is two Boyd Bucks.

Sonja Cross’s son was fresh out of Boyd Bucks on Thursday afternoon when nature called urgently. When the boy’s teacher denied his request to use the facilities, he sat back down.

“He tried to hold it as much as he could, but he just couldn’t,” Cross told the NBC affiliate. “He came home from school, and he was crying and really upset.”

“I was absolutely appalled,” Cross told the NBC affiliate. “I could not believe it.”

Cross initially took up her complaint directly with the teacher, who is reportedly in her first year with the school. However, Cross said, she wasn’t satisfied with the outcome of that conversation.

“Originally when I first spoke with the teacher, she was just going to show my son special treatment, but then I said, ‘That’s just not good enough. I need for you to stop this for all the children,’” Cross explained.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “A Toilet Break is a Right Not a Privilege”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    I find it interesting how some children suddenly want to go to the toilet when the work is hard. This is not a reason to deny permission but to explore how the student is travelling with the work. I also find it interesting when one student wants to go another, then another wants to go too. This seems to me a signal that something to do with the teaching is not exactly floating the boat. If more than one child wants to go the first to ask gets permission then the next child has permission after the first one comes back. It’s also interesting how many students forget they need to go when they have permission but have to wait a few minutes. I always say “yes” to a request to go to the toilet. I sometimes add a minor condition. “Yes after you finish two more sums.” “Yes, when you have finished that sentence.” “Yes, when you finish that illustration.”

  2. Lynne Diligent Says:

    Speaking as both a teacher of many years and the mother of a child grown to adulthood, I agree with you completely on this post. One of the problems teachers face (in addition to those children who go because they are bored, or want to move around) are administrators who force teachers to not let children go for two hours or more. Another problem is some schools having an insufficient number of toilets.

    In my early teaching career, I once did not let children go for a 15-minute period and had one child have a bowel movement in his pants. Of course I cleaned him up and apologized. I later found out that child had a condition which later required bowel surgery. His mother sent extra clothes to school fortunately. After that I refused to not let children go and was often in trouble with administrators over this issue! Even normal children all have different bodies. Personally, my entire life, I have always had great trouble waiting even an hour in the mornings; but in the afternoons, I can go several hours with no problem. Children all have individual bodies that have individual timetables. They should not be penalized for this!

    The school I taught in also had insufficient toilets. They had four toilets for the entire elementary (six classes). If we waited until the bathroom time, (five minutes every two hours), it takes each girl about 1-2 minutes on average, and with about 16 girls in each class of about 30, that is double the time, plus walking there and back. Girls need to have twice the number of toilets as boys to get done in the same time. Also, there was a plumbing problem where two toilets got closed up and there were only two left. Then those two did not flush and the maid had to go in every hour and throw buckets of water down, while the girls had to use unflushed toilets, one right after the other. This went on for months. To get 16 girls through two toilets takes about 20 minutes. After many months of this, the four toilets got fixed.

    Many other teachers (like second grade) used to say, “They can go to the toilet on their own time,” (during recess, or before recess is over) and there were no breaks really provided for that so it was always a fight with that teacher for the children to go. Also, at recess, the toilets are not supervised and a lot of bullying takes place in there (both boys and girls) so that many children do NOT want to use it at that time!

    You have really touched on one of my pet peeves here, both as a teacher, and as a parent! Thank you for writing about this.

    Lynne Diligent

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: