How to Get Started Potty Training Your Shy Child

Jan 18, 2023 | 2 Minutes Read

With reserved children, the potty training readiness process is not always clear-cut. Your child conveys their readiness in their behavior and moods, which are sometimes subtle and hard to read. When they pull away, support and reassure them. When they want to jump ahead, help them take slow, measured steps forward, but always expect some setbacks. Slow but steady wins this race! 

This sounds counterintuitive, but leave the bathroom out of the picture for a while. Ease your reserved child in, letting him become comfortable with some of the potty training equipment by making it become part of the environment.

  • Put Pull-Ups® Training Pants in with your child’s regular diapers long before you expect to use them. Let them be visible and allow your child to notice and inquire about them.
  • Once in a while, take out some Pull-Ups and show your child the character on them. Play peek-a-boo with the character on the Pull-Ups while you’re at the changing table. They have a tendency to hang onto ideas and choices, and you can use this later to your advantage.
  • Take your toddler to the library or local bookstore and find some books about potty training. Different stories can begin to help your Big Kid work through some of the aspects of the process they may be suspicious of or nervous about.
  • Repetition is key, so leave the potty books around the house and allow your child to peruse them as they wish. Be sure to find their favorite. Having some special favorites for potty time is important to your introverted child and will be increasingly important as you start to move toward the actual potty.
  • Gradually start to phase items into the bathroom, like a potty chair, potty books and wipes. If they start testing any of them out, don’t get too excited or expect this interest to stick. Follow your Big Kid’s lead, and back off immediately if they lose enthusiasm. The last thing you want to do is to kick that toddler’s steel will into gear, which will slow the process down.
  • Casually encourage your child to accompany you to the bathroom while you do your business. Give a low-key description of all the potty goings-on, or just chat about the day’s activities. Children often learn by watching and listening, even when you least expect it. The less pressure, the better.

Gradually, ask your Big Kid to test out sitting on the potty. A lot of reserved children like to do this fully dressed at first. Nervous kids may also be reluctant to use the adult-size toilet, so you may want to ease them into the process by using a potty chair. With a introverted child, repetition helps. New ideas need to be offered many times, just like we have to offer new kinds of foods many times before children will learn to like them (sometimes 10 to 15 times!).

The Bottom Line (Pardon the Pun)

Your Big Kid is on the potty training journey with you; they just want it to be at their pace, not yours. Respect their individuality and the way they assert their needs, even if it sometimes comes across as resistance. Back off, and let your child find his way forward, with your reassurance and guidance along the way. The worst thing you can do is rush your shy toddler. Support their decisions with the comfort of their favorite books, characters and routines.


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