Help Your Shy Child Recognize The Urge To Go To The Bathroom

Jan 18, 2023 | 3.5 Minutes Read

Introverted toddler's can be rather unpredictable in their potty times, which means it may be difficult to know when to coach them to go to the bathroom. Pay careful attention to their cues, and talk with your Big Kid about them.

Child plays on the floor with Disney Mickey Mouse
In order to know when to go to the bathroom, your child needs to begin to understand and become comfortable with what’s happening inside their body.

  • “I see you’re crouching down. I think that means maybe your tummy hurts, and you want to push out a poop. Does your tummy feel like a poop might be coming?”
  • Once your toddler gets a sense of their own cues, you can suggest — without pressure — that they try on the potty chair. “When you’re ready, I will help you try.”
  • Some more reserved children may want privacy. That may be why they’re going under the table or hiding in another room to pee or poop in their Pull-Ups®. Give words to the process. “I see you’d like to poop behind the sofa. I like privacy sometimes, too. I’ll stay close by in case you need me, but I will sit over here so you can poop in private. If you want, we can put your potty back there too.”
How does your body feel when it’s time to go?

“Part of using the potty is knowing how your body feels when you have to go. I know I have to go to the bathroom when my tummy feels tight and heavy. I have to squeeze my tummy from the inside to keep the pee or poop from coming out until I get to the toilet. Do you ever feel your pee or poop coming? It helps to put a hand on your tummy to check. How does it feel in there? Once I sit down on the potty, I can stop holding my tummy tight and let it all go. Ahhhh. This helps my pee or poop come right out into the toilet! When you think you have to go, tell me so I can help you try, too. You’re doing great so far. It’s so cool that you’re learning all this Big Kid stuff.”

Get to know your child’s favorites. Which Disney character (on Pull-Ups products) does your child relate to best? Use this character as a guide, and have fun with it! Work the Disney character into a story you are telling that will help your Big Kid feel comfortable with the changes associated with potty training.

Experiment with the different types of Pull-Ups to see which appeals to your cautious child. Pull-Ups® training pants have a design that fades when they get wet. This works well as a visual cue: “Oh! I seem to have peed!”

Even if your child notices their Pull-Ups® have changed, and that their training pants feel “funny” to them, they may still be hesitant to initiate a trip to the bathroom for a change. If you suspect they need some help, get out a toy and role play what is happening. You can even use the same character as is on the Pull-Ups, if you want.“(Character name) is feeling like he needs to go to the bathroom. His tummy is getting tight and full. He’s feeling like he needs to dance around. What do you think he should do?” Ask open-ended questions about what the character is feeling, and notice how the character can help your toddler share when they are feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about themselves.

Introverted children tend to get nervous about the process, which can cause them to have a hard time releasing the muscles they need to relax in order to “let it all come out.” Don’t be afraid to get silly, and redirect attention to the toy to help your toddler to relax so their body can do what it needs to do.

Watching a peer or a sibling is also helpful for shy toddlers since it takes away the mystery. Siblings and cousins can be a huge help for all training toddlers. For nervous children, it allows them the opportunity to be nearby the potty process without too much personal performance pressure. It allows your toddler to get used to the idea and the routine via observation. Be sure to remember that if your child is a girl, it is important for her to learn to wipe from front to back, so make sure you show your child. Here are some other ways to deflect potty performance pressure:

  • Looking at books about using the potty can also help your shy toddler become more comfortable with the idea (and relaxed enough to let nature take its course), so put a basket of books in the bathroom.
  • Create a routine that’s fun for the two of you. Maybe you always do the “potty train conga line” on your way to the bathroom, for example.
  • Your reserved Big Kid is a staunch defender of old favorites, so keep a special toy or toys in the bathroom that are only used as “potty-time toys.”
Once your child becomes comfortable with the toilet and their bodily functions, create easy goals and collaboratively develop predictable routines for the process. One way to do that is to use a timer. The timer helps remind you and your toddler every 30 minutes (or another time of your choosing) that it’s time to try to use the potty.

Every time the timer goes off, we try to put something in the potty. It’s okay if nothing comes out, but we can try. And, you’ll get to play a fun game each time you take a potty break. You get to choose which game you want as your reward!”

If your shy child resists using the timer at any point, back off and take a break. “Okay, do you want to put your Pull-Ups back on, or should I? And you let me know when you want to start up timer again.” Feel free to try again after a short break, and see how they respond.

In general with introverted children, you want to positively reinforce habits, but be careful: Your shy toddler will back off if they get too much praise, as it makes them feel self-conscious. Give short, specific feedback about what’s working.

Potty Talk:

  • I noticed you checked your Pull-Ups® training pants  and went right to the bathroom when you noticed your picture was faded. Nice work. How about I read your favorite potty book while you try to see if any poop will come out, too?”
  • You told me you pooped when you were in the corner. That tells me you’re starting to learn when your body has to go to the bathroom. Thanks for letting me know. Let’s go put your poop in the potty. We can make the potty your special place to poop from now on. Just tell me when you need to go to your special place. We can keep your favorite Pull-Ups and toys right there so they’re ready for you!”
  • “I know that the wipes can feel cool on your skin, and even so, you did a great job of using the wipe to get yourself nice and clean!”
Sometimes your shy child may be frustrated because nothing is coming out. You want to keep the experience positive, so take a break. You can always come back and try again soon. Short, enjoyable trips to the potty will breed much more success than long, miserable visits. Listen to your Big Kid’s cues and resist the temptation to push them too quickly toward potty training.


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