You may have thought your child was ready to transition from diapers to using the toilet, just to encounter problem after problem. The process of potty training is a combination of achievements and obstacles. The transition from diapers to toilets is rarely smooth and there are always some bumps along the road. Here are some common potty training problems parents face and some suggestions on how to deal with these issues.
1) You think your child is ready to potty train, but they’re not too sure.
Your child may show signs that they’re ready to start potty training or you may have some sort of deadline that requires them to be potty trained, such as starting pre-school. However, even though it might be time for your child to learn to use the toilet, they might show reluctance and resistance.
Suggestions: First, make sure that your child is ready to leave his or her diapers behind. Some children’s unwillingness to use the toilet may be because they want to stay in diapers. Forcing your child to use the toilet could be counterproductive and make them more difficult. If your child seems genuinely uninterested in leaving their diapers behind, try waiting a little longer and keep your eye out for signs of readiness.
If you think they are ready, try rewarding good behavior and be calm about accidents. Provide praise the first time your child uses the toilet and provide praise or even rewards for different milestones reached. Also, remind them when they’re not on the toilet that you are proud and happy that they have a dry diaper or underwear. Also, try not to become upset when your child has an accident. If you become angry or punish your child, they might become fearful of going to the bathroom and may resist potty-training.
2) Your child has a fear of the toilet
Many children have a fear of the toilet. The standard tall and cold toilet is an intimidating thing in the face of a small toddler and the noise and motion of flushing water can be frightening. It is common for children to think that they might get sucked down the toilet and never be seen again.
Suggestions: Help your child become comfortable with a potty chair first. Some experts recommend letting your child know that this is something not to be afraid of. Perhaps let your child decorate his or her potty chair with stickers or write his or her name on it. While they are using the potty chair, talk to your child about the standard toilet in a positive way, encouraging them that eventually they will transition to using it. Try to make them feel excited and confident about transitioning to the standard toilet.
If your child is afraid of the toilet’s flush, try flushing the toilet after he or she has left the bathroom just to get them used to using the toilet. After doing this for a while, try flushing the toilet while distracting your child by talking or singing with them. Eventually, the sound may not frighten your child as much. Another recommendation is to take a diaper and empty the contents into the toilet. Bring your child to watch the poop disappear. While doing this explain to them that this is supposed to happen and because the poop is small it will fit down the toilet. Reassure them that everything is normal and that they don’t have anything to fear.
3) Your child will use the toilet for peeing or pooping, but not both.
It is common for some children to urinate easily in a toilet but be reluctant to use it for bowel movements. Children can be startled by the sensation of a bowel movement falling away into the toilet or they may have had a bad experience of a bowel movement making a mess. Many children feel more in control when having a bowel movement in their diapers than on a toilet.
Suggestions: If your toddler is reluctant to poop in the toilet, it might be easier to keep them in a diaper temporarily. If you push for your child to use a toilet, you run the risk of accidents or constipation. Encourage your child to tell you when they think they need to poop and then put a diaper on them. Once your child has a bowel movement in their diaper, take your child to the bathroom and have them participate in the process of emptying it into the toilet and flushing it down.
If your child might be anxious about having a bowel movement, try assuaging their fears. Let him or her know that having a bowel movement is natural and that everyone has them.
4) Your child has a habit of wetting the bed
One of the most common potty training problems is that months or even years after children have left their diapers they continue to wet their bed at night. Mastering the art of using the toilet during the day does not necessarily mean mastering the art of bladder control, especially while sleeping. Many bed-wetting problems are biological and self-correcting with time, including a small bladder size, heavy sleep, or kidneys failing to send signals to the brain when sleeping. Until the habit self corrects, there are a few steps parents can take to minimize the bed-wetting risk.
Suggestions: To try and minimize bed-wetting risk, parents should try to be cautious of fluid intake and bathroom breaks during the day. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluid during the day, but limit liquids in the last hour or two leading up to bedtime. Also, take your child to use the bathroom several times before bed to make sure he or she has completely emptied their bladder before sleeping. It could also help to encourage bladder control and functioning by making sure your child takes frequent toilet breaks throughout the day.
Until your child grows out of the habit of bed-wetting, parents can use absorbent underwear and a waterproof mattress cover. Nightlights on the path between the bedroom and bathroom can also help a child feel more comfortable to try aiming for the bathroom when they wake up in the middle of the night having to pee.
5) Your child will use the toilet at home, but doesn’t want to use one anywhere else
Many children become comfortable using the toilet in the comforts of their home, but may be less content to use a toilet outside of the home, such as in school, a restaurant, or someone else’s home. With less familiar surroundings, children may become hesitant or fearful to use the toilet.
Suggestions: If your child is using a potty chair at home, they may not feel comfortable using a built-in-toilet elsewhere. If this is the case, try bringing a portable potty chair with you that makes your child feel more comfortable. Also, try making some routines and associations with using the bathroom. If you always sing when your child is on the toilet at home, try singing the same song in the public restroom to make the environment feel more familiar.
If your child is having a difficult time using the toilet at their day care, talk to the provider to learn about their potty training techniques. Take some of their techniques and implement them at home, so the daycare toilet doesn’t seem so different.