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An ex-teacher has blamed lazy parents for the rise in children starting school still in nappies.

The number of children starting school who are not toilet trained is increasing. Last year, 1,600 pupils started primary school in nappies, according to research from the National Foundation for Educational Research.

ITV ran a segment on ‘Good Morning Britain’ on Monday 7 September to discuss why this is happening. They stressed that their discussion was about children wearing nappies who do not have a medical condition.

In an interview on the show, former teacher Susan Elkin blamed lazy parenting for the rise in children not being toilet trained.

Responding to the story, ERIC's Campaigns and Communications Manager, Rhia Favero said: "Elkin’s advice for parents of older children who are not yet toilet trained was that they should have trained them earlier. She did not offer an ounce of support or help for parents who have tried toilet training their child but have not succeeded. She could have helped a lot of families if she had mentioned the information and support that ERIC, the children's continence charity gives to families struggling to get through the potty training process."

Lazy parenting

ITV asked followers on Twitter whether they thought lazy parenting was to blame for children starting school in nappies.

The majority of respondents agreed that it was, with one person saying it was ‘a sign of neglect’ and another commenting that parents ‘should be ashamed.’

There were, however, some glimmers of reason: @heidimai tweeted "Where did you dig that woman up from, she was most unhelpful and will have parents distraught.’

Another parent on Good Morning Britain's Facebook page pointed out that some children start school having only just turned four. It's not unreasonable for a child of that age not to be fully continent on their first day of school.

Children normally start showing signs of being ready to potty train around the age of two, but not all children are the same and some will be ready earlier, some later. Learning to gain control of the bowel and bladder is a complex process and children need to be emotionally and physically ready to start potty training.

Toilet training advice

ERIC’s Guide to Potty Training, the leaflet ‘Thinking about wee and poo now you’re on your way to school’ and the potty training pages of the ERIC website contain tips and information about how to start the toilet training process.

If parents need tailored support or simply want to check that they are doing the right thing, ERIC’s helpline staff are just a phone call or email away. 

Schools' obligations

Schools do not have a legal duty to toilet train children, but they can support children who are being toilet trained at home. They can also signpost parents to information to help them with toilet training, such as ERIC's resources.

ERIC's Right to Go campaign aims to help education settings support children and teenagers with bowel and bladder problems and to provide high quality and accessible school toilets. Visit the campaign page for resources to help education settings manage continence.

Teachers can also contact ERIC's helpline for further information or to order bulk copies of ERIC's resources to distribute to parents.