Potty Training in Public – When Your Child is Afraid to Use a Public Bathroom

You’ve cleared a major hurdle in potty-training – your child has learned to use the bathroom successfully – but once you leave your house it’s a different story entirely. Your child becomes fearful and agitated and refuses to “go” in a strange bathroom. If you feel like you’re stuck in this situation, you’re not alone. Plenty of children make great progress in potty-training and then literally hit a wall when they have to go anywhere but on their own turf.

While getting to this middle-ground in potty training can be frustrating for many parents who thought that the job was done, there are several ways to help your child to make sure that this stage will pass quickly. Some strategies include:

Recognize the fear: Try to treat this not as misbehavior, but as a real fear. Many kids feel genuinely frightened by the loud noises, large toilets, and strangers who walk in and out of public restrooms. Plus, chances are you want to get them in and out quickly, so there is lots of pressure for your little one to “perform” on the spot. See if you can take the pressure down a notch and help them conquer this fear like any other fear, with understanding and patience.

Start small: Don’t head out to places with giant public bathrooms right away. Let your child have the opportunity to practice first at a friend’s house, or at a restroom in a small restaurant or store that has only one toilet. This gives them a chance to experience a different bathroom with a full-sized potty seat, and will gradually give them confidence to “go” in an unfamiliar place.

Bring a potty seat insert: Sure, it may be inconvenient for a few weeks, but for those little ones who are afraid of falling in, a portable potty insert can be a life-saver. Once they become adjusted to going in different places, the fear should decrease over time. (If you don’t have a potty seat insert, you should always hold onto your child and help him or her stay on the seat without falling down and splashing.)

Cover it up: For children who are afraid of touching the public toilet – and frustrated when the little paper guard keeps slipping off – try an adhesive potty seat cover designed for kids.

Delay the flush: Many children have a fear of the automatic flush function on some public toilets. Sometimes when a little person is on the toilet the sensor mistakenly thinks there’s no one sitting there and the powerful flush starts prematurely – which can be terrifying for a little one who is already afraid of falling in. When your child sits on the toilet, hold your hand over the red sensor to prevent the toilet from flushing until your child is ready.

While you are helping them get over this fear, remember to have plenty of wipes and spare underwear in the car or in your diaper bag. Accidents will happen, and you should treat them as just that: accidents. Give your child lots of praise when he or she able to use a public bathroom successfully. And don’t fall into the pressure of going back to diapers or Pull-Ups because that could send a mixed message to your child. All told, it may take several weeks or even months for them to conquer their fears. But remember that it is a stage that will pass, and before long this part of your child’s life will be just a distant memory.

0
No votes yet
 

2 comments

By Twinkle on 06/22/09 at 4:03 pm

What great tips! My eldest daughter was pretty scared of public bathrooms when she started training. We always made sure that we had our insert with u  ...

Sign in to leave a comment!

Today on JustMommies

CVS Health Makes a New Promise for Your Health

What’s the one wish people wish above all others? Find out how CVS Health helps make those wishes come true. CVS Health is proving it’s not just a corner drugstore. They’re an innovator, making health more affordable and accessible in surprising ways.

Bully-Proof Your Child

Bullying is one of those inevitable facts of life. As much as parents try to eliminate it, schools try to govern it...

Delicious, Kid-Friendly Recipes

While some parents boast that their kids happily devour bowlfuls of quinoa and kale and wash them down with a spirulina shake, most of us have kids who shun veggies and are definitely picky about what they'll eat.

P

From the Message Boards

October 2012 Playroom

Best toys for two's

Let's compile a list of toys that are great for two-year-olds! It might be helpful with all the bir...

October 2012 Playroom

Refusing to wean

Elijah just does not want to wean. I'm having a difficult time doing it... seems more difficult tha...

October 2012 Playroom

omg yes!!!

I was so worried about not getting my period since I changed to the mini pill back in Jan. of last...

October 2012 Playroom

2nd year bdays!

What are you guys having? Any particular theme? Is it going to be family only or some friends and fa...

2005 Playroom

Free Printable Coloring Pages

I thought you guys might like these :)...

» Check out the friendliest message board for moms and moms-to-be!