Potty Training Regression- Fear of Toilets or Flushing

Common fears during potty training are:

  • falling off the potty or thinking they might
  • falling in the toilet or imagining that they could
  • have a bad dream about being on a potty
  • being startled by a shout or slap while on the potty
  • hearing a loud noise while thinking about the potty
  • seeing Mr. Clean leap out of a toilet bowl in the TV commercials terrorizes many, many toddlers.

When you're two years old, fantasy and reality blur all too easily, so it's easy to think that Jaws lives in the bowl and then believe it's true.

After imagining some dire catastrophe, your child may refuse to go near the potty. If you press, he may become so hysterical that to insist would be to traumatize him further.

Toilets in public restrooms can be a real problem. The automatic kinds flush without warning. They are noisy, the water agitates violently, and the whoosh as the water is sucked away can be as loud as a vacuum cleaner, as if to warn him that he could be next.

Here are some suggestions when on the road with a potty training toddler:

  • Get a travel potty chair (so you don't have to go into a public restroom)
  • Get a folding potty seat (to help a full size toilet reduce to a toddlers size)
  • Bring your own toilet paper or wipes (public restrooms can sometimes have no paper avaiable, you may have to leave your child alone while getting some)

Here are some things you can try:

  • If your child's fears center around the toilet, see if he will use a potty chair.
  • If he had scare on his potty chair, try switching to a potty seat.
  • Try dropping the word "potty from your vocabulary.
  • Maybe he need to "visit Henrietta" and "sit on her lap," or see if Mrs. Tank is "hungry" or "needs a drink."
  • Tie a ribbon or bow tie around its neck, affix a face with masking tape to the lid, and affix stickers inside the bowl above the water line.
  • If that does not help, stop all practice sessions for a month to give your child time to forget. Do not even mention the potty.

For other fears:

If your child has seen Mr. Clean leap from the bowl on TV or has heard the day care rumor that tigers, dinosaurs, or spiders live in toilet water, open the tank so he can see what's inside (too small for a tiger, that's for sure). Demonstrate how to flush from inside the tank by lifting the lever, so that he can watch how the water rushes through the tiny hole (too small for a tiger, that's for sure) then stops when the tank is full. Show him where the water leaves the toilet bowl through the little pipe in the back (too small for a tiger, that's for sure).

When logic does not work (though, sometimes it does), try standing your toddler on a step stool next to the toilet so he is far enough away when he urinates to be out of harm's way.Girls can stand both for urine and bowel movements by putting one foot on each side of the toilet seat and bending their knees slightly so they do not make a mess. However, while you keep watch for tiger, hold your child tightly so she doesn't fall in. Since neither tiger nor Mr. Clean ever show faces to adults, you should also sit on the toilet, spread your legs and hold your child on your lap while he uses it.

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