Be Alert to Repetitive Bathroom Breaks May 13, 2015 06:34

Yesterday, I was notified that one of my students was taking too many trips to the restroom during math. The teacher also reported that this student appeared to go into "Lala Land" during instruction on long division. She is a highly gifted writer and an avid reader. In fact, she chooses to escape into her fictional world at every opportunity she can. When asked about what she was avoiding in math, she admitted that division was very hard. Even though she knew her basic multiplication facts, she confessed she had a hard time finding the facts for division.  This is not uncommon for right brain learners. After a discussion about the types of intelligence one might have and that being good at one subject does not mean you have to find all subjects easy, she admitted she felt stupid and didn't want to tell the teacher she didn't know how to do the division. 

***When I spoke to the teacher, she disagreed that the student didn't know her facts. Knowing ones facts and applying it in division are to completely different processes. A right brain learner needs to have facts turned into stories, so the missing factor or product can be easily accessed. "Memory Joggers" are a great way to teach the math facts.  They are available online.****

What do Repetitive Bathroom Breaks Mean?

Repetitive bathroom breaks can be more than a physical need to eliminate.  There are several reasons students might ask to go to the bathroom. The most obvious is they haven't used the bathroom during their recesses.  They might have a bladder infection.  

But what about the child who consistently asks to go to the bathroom several times during one class period? If the above reasons have been ruled out, it is possible the students are avoiding an assignment or tasks that seems overwhelming to them. The children who deal with stress with this type of coping can be below average, below average, or very gifted students.

Coping by avoidance actually can be physiological in nature. The first response to a threat, and not knowing how to do something or get started on an assignment is considered a threat, is to shift into the stress response. The first signs of stress can be the desire to eliminate.  In the wild, animals that feel threatened will eliminate any extra weight to facilitate a quick get-away. We are no different. When we are threatened, we react with a primitive response that will protect us and assure our survival. 

So, what do children do when they feel stupid? They go to the bathroom.  

Help students who tackle challenges this way by sharing the natural response to fear. Then help them identify why they are feeling this way. 

If you need specific support, email me the challenges and the behaviors you are observing, and I can offer support. I am here to help.