How to Help Overcome Your Child’s Potty Fears
11/29/1984 | by Dave Hagler
October Potty Training Article
“How to Help Overcome Your Child’s Potty Fears”
All toddlers have some sort of fear - "the dark," "bugs," "under the bed." When starting the potty training process it's important to keep it fun and positive so potty training doesn't get added to the list. Here are some common "potty fears" to look out for and how to deal with them:
Toilets are made for adults. Kids are small. Put the two together and you can see where kids can be afraid of falling in. This isn't an imagined fear, falling into the potty really can and does happen. First, make sure you get a sturdy potty seat that fits securely on your toilet. But even a potty seat may not be enough to calm your child's fears. Think of it this way - when you ride a roller coaster you are strapped securely into your seat but you are still scared of falling off, right? Putting something like a step stool in front of them so their feet don't dangle canhelp them feel more secure. This "potty fear" is mostly a fear of the unknown. Once they have a few successful trips, the fear will be gone.
This is a common fear for little ones. For one, the loud noise that goes with flushing can be frightening. And also the way items, once flushed, are never to be seen again can stir up emotions of uncertainty. Kids have very active imaginations and don't know where things go when the toilet is flushed. If they've seen "Finding Nemo," they might think all drains lead to the ocean, an explanation which might help alleviate their fear but might also give them reason to put various toys and items into the toilet to "set them free." If your child is afraid of flushing the toilet, explain in simple terms how it works and where things go. Let them flush themselves to see how it works. Automatic flushing toilets, which are usually very loud and can go off while still sitting on the potty, are a very common source of fear for kids. Which brings us to the next category ? public restrooms.
Your child may be completely potty trained at home and preschool, but once you go to a strange potty or one in a public place, it's like you are starting from scratch. Bring along a potty seat, you can get travel ones that fold up, so you can stop their fear of falling in. In a pinch, if you don't have a potty seat, try having your child sit backwards so they can hold on to the tank of the toilet. This will make it less likely for them to fall in. The automatic flushers are a particular problem with public restrooms. For this, put a sticker or piece of tape over the sensor to prevent it from going off while they are sitting on the potty.
Despite how they often act to the contrary, our children want to please us. Many times, in our eagerness to have our kids potty trained, we put unintentional pressure on them. Maybe we want them potty trained because they are starting preschool or because a new baby is coming so it would be more convenient to have them out of diapers. But, no matter how much we want it to happen on our schedule, potty training is a physical development milestone which can only happen when the child is ready. To make sure your child isn’t resisting potting training for fear of disappointing you, be sure not to push them before they are ready and never attach negative consequences to having an accident or not being able to go. Let them know accidents are a normal part of learning and you won't be upset when they happen.