A couple months ago, my webinar partner Elsa and I presented a webinar to a group of parents. The parents learned a lot from our presentation and question and answer session. Following the webinar, some of the parents continued to communicate with us by email. The overwhelming question and struggle with the parents that continued to communicate with us was Potty Training Anxiety.
The level of urgency to figure out how to deal with Potty Training Anxiety created a need for us to do some research and dig more deeply and add some information to our webinar to include this topic. We have some helpful information to share regarding this topic.
It is true that going potty brings up some scary thoughts for toddlers. Many of these tykes are afraid of the toilet, the bathroom, going poop and using public bathrooms. Addressing the fear surrounding the toilet, the bathroom, going poop and using public bathrooms seem to be the four main areas that potty training anxiety seems to pop up.
Fear of the toilet because when it is flushed it makes a lot of noise. The questions about what all is going to go down when that toilet has flushed come to mind! Some children fear the toilet being flushed when they are still sitting up there. They may be afraid that they could be sucked down the toilet with everything else! 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 snakes, fish, bugs and other creatures coming up out of the toilet and visiting them in this vulnerable position. A child’s imagination can see that happening right before their eyes and seem very real.
The bathroom can be a scary place for a child. The things in the bathroom are like no other room in the house. Not all that cozy either. The bathroom can be dark and can only add to the scariness levels. Think about adding a light to the bathroom that will always be on. Add a basket of books and favorite comforting toys in a basket to add some comfort and coziness. Some people like to make an iPad or kindle available so that their child might play some games and distract them from their fears. Maybe a cute poster or picture that your child loves. Think about what equipment you might add to the toilet so that your child can feel safe and secure getting up to the toilet, getting their feet secure and hanging on tightly. A few small steps, with a place to set your feet and a handle to hang on to while you are on the throne will add safety and comfort. Being lonely or away from mom and dad can be a scary thing for a child, particularly if they are trying something new. 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, everything else needs to be set aside during this time period. You might need some support from another adult during this time to take care of things you would normally be taking care of so you can be there for your child when nature calls.
Pooping can be anxiety provoking for some children, particularly if they have struggled with constipation and going poop hurts. If it hurt to poop once or twice, they may decide they never want to poop again. Be sure your child is not constipated and be sure they have a diet with fiber or provide them fiber supplements. Plenty of fluids will help as well. Keep track if they are pooping daily as that will be important to know so that they are not impacted. See your doctor if diet, fluids, and supplements are not enough. Also, some children do not 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. This can be extremely uncomfortable for your child as well as cutting scheduled outings short. Your child may need you to go into the stall with them and help them and comfort them. Bringing familiar items with and taking your time so they do not feel rushed. A book, toy or game to distract could help a lot. This is a tough one as I have left many fun events as we couldn’t get past the anxiety of public bathrooms. This happened to me with boys, who didn’t want to go to the woman’s bathroom! Thank goodness for family bathrooms that are available in most places today.
Finally, for some children going poop can be a sensory issue. These children happily go poop in the diaper, knowing they are pooping and knowing when they are done. The diaper provides them a sense of security and familiarity. When first potty training children with sensory issues and they are learning to poop in the potty chair, you may want to leave a diaper on, but a modified diaper with a hole cut in the back or rear so that poop can fall through. Gradually cut away the diaper until there is little left. Your child will learn that pooping in the potty chair is ok in time.
Talk to your child about these fears and find out what they are thinking. Address their fears before their fears grow bigger and bigger. Find solutions that address their fears and talk with them about what can be done so they feel better. Be creative!
The Potty Fairy will be adding some Potty Fairy custom dolls to our line of products. There is a doll for girls, called Blossom and a doll for boys called Bud. The dolls can help provide comfort and companionship during potty training to help relieve anxiety. Your child can carry the doll with them or have the doll set in the bathroom or living space to always be there during potty training. The potty fairies can leave surprise rewards for your child when they are potty training successful so your child will never feel alone. The fairies leave fresh undies during the night and your child can sleep with their doll and get support 24 hours a day.
Our guest blogger from “UnderBearz” is another product that we believe could be very helpful to children potty training and would help alleviate any potty training anxiety.
Potty Training Fun
Who doesn’t love to look forward to something fun? A long-needed vacation; a relaxing day off work; getting lost in a good book; spending time with the ones we love; really, the list is endless. Equally long is the list of things we dread. At the top of the list for many parents is the task of potty training. It seems especially daunting for those parents who are “first-timers.” “I’m looking forward to starting potty training.” said no one ever! Until that is, the idea of UnderBearz was born.
UnderBearz’ focus is on “turning potty time into playtime.” That is what we do! Studies on play have shown children learn by imagining and doing. Play shapes our brains, develops skill, and gives stability to our emotions. In an article entitled “Reflections on Pretend Play, Imagination, and Child Development,” Dorothy Singer, an expert in the field of children’s play points out that “Research has shown that children can begin playing imaginatively as early as 18 months…through play, a child begins to experience the world around him. Pretend play is consistently associated with smiling, laughing and satisfaction in children.” So, at UnderBearz, we set out to create a toy, that capitalizes on the benefits of play and helps turn the sometimes-unpleasant task of potty training into a time of imaginative play that parent and child can engage in and look forward to.
The UnderBearz kit includes: an adorable bear with underwear; a toy potty; an “I Can” laminated potty chart, where you can chart the progress and reward your child for all of the simple tasks your child can do as it relates to potty training; a sheet of UnderBearz stickers; a Pottyology how to Brochure, with tips on how to best use the kit; and a roll of specialty UnderBearz toilet paper just for your child and your child’s UnderBearz. UnderBearz can be found on ETSY and on Amazon. So, go add potty time with UnderBearz to your list of the fun cause at UnderBearz we love… “turning potty time into playtime.” Happy Potty Training!