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Children’s experiences of attitudes and rules for going to the toilet in school


Barbro Lundblad, The Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Box 457, SE 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden.


Scand J Caring Sci; 2010; 24; 219–223
Children′s experiences of attitudes and rules for going to the toilet in school

Introduction:  School children often base their toilet habits on behavioural and social reasons. Bladder emptying problems, urinary tract infections and constipation are common health problems which are also associated with irregular toilet habits. School rules for going to the toilet have been shown to create difficulties for school children with bladder dysfunction. Aim of this study was to describe children’s experiences of school rules for going to the toilet and their significance for the children.

Methods:  Individual open-ended questions with 19 schoolchildren aged 9–16 in elementary schools.

Results:  To manage the children’s toilet needs, teachers used rules designed for maintaining order in the classroom. The children saw their toilets needs as a private matter and experienced it complicated to go to the toilet during recess as time was short and the risk for violation of their integrity was at its highest. The most frustrating when to comply with rules during lessons was to be forced to, in front of all their classmates, make public the need to go to the toilet: i.e the most private was exposed to the disclosure.

Conclusion:  The rules for going to the toilet came from the teachers’ need for maintaining order in the classroom and were not adapted to the children’s physical and developmental needs. To violate the integrity of children can affect their willingness to go to the school toilet which in turn affects their wellbeing during school time.