• Mary Carlson Pap

Potty Training Anxiety Is Real

For some children, potty training brings up some scary thoughts and big feelings. Many of these kids are afraid of the toilet, the sound of the flush, the bathroom, going poop, and using public bathrooms. Addressing the fears about why these anxious feelings pop up is the key to understanding and helping them.

Fear of the toilet happens because when it is flushed it can make a lot of noise, especially in pubic.  Kids often wonder where it all goes, that it's going to be flushed while they're still sitting on the toilet, if they're going to go down with it. Not only is the noise of the flushing toilet scary some children are afraid because they are sitting so high up with nothing around them! Dangling feet can also make a child feel out of control. Believe it or not, some children have fears of different critters coming up through the toilet! A child’s imagination can see that happening right before their eyes and seem very real. Doing things to help them feel more comfortable in the bathroom to ease some of these fears and discomforts. Sometimes just going into the bathroom with your child is all they need. Do your best to be there for your little one when first learning to use the bathroom. Parents are busy, but if you set the time aside for potty training and make it a priority, your child's fears and anxiety will ease and you can learn together.

Pooping can be anxiety inducing for some children. Whether it's a sensory issue, constipation or just worry about pooping actually being that they are losing a part of themselves, pooping can just be a harder part to potty training. If they have struggled with constipation and going poop hurts, many kids will avoid it at all costs. Be sure your child is not constipated by making sure they are eating plenty of fruits and veggies. Plenty of fluids can help as well. Keep track if they are pooping daily as that will be important to know so that they are not impacted. Letting kids help pick fruits and vegetables often encourage kids to try more foods that help their health.

See your doctor if diet, fluids, and supplements are not enough. Also, some children don't like to get dirty and going poop can create a mess, although pooping in the toilet sure beats going in your diaper or pants as far as a mess is concerned, be sure to talk them thru how you and your child will work together to clean up after a poop.

Going to the bathroom in public bathrooms can be really tough on some children. Some will choose to hold whatever wants to come out until they get home. It's even louder in there, there are more unknowns, like urinals, loud hand dryers, and can often just be too much. Sometimes it's easier to keep outings short or be ready in case of accidents or be prepared to leave if they need to go home. 

At the end of the day, paying attention, talking to your child about these fears, and find out what they are thinking is the best thing for you and your child. Getting to know your child's fears and working to find solutions that address their fears and talk with them about what can be done so they feel better. Be creative!

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