A fear of public toilets is common among potty training toddlers but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. We’ve spoken to many parents who encounter this issue and faced it ourselves with our young children. This is an issue usually based on fear which is why our solutions work by both decreasing the fears and de-sensitising your child to unfamiliar sights and sounds.
First, you need to work out exactly what it is your child is scared of. Excessive and unfamiliar noises are one of the biggest problems with public toilets. Many children are especially fearful of the unfamiliar noise that comes from the hand dryer but there’s a very simple tried-and-tested solution – ear muffs!
Help your child pick out the ear muffs that they like best – perhaps ones featuring their favourite characters - and remind him or her to pop them on before going into the public bathroom. This will make your child feel snug and protected, and minimise any noise from the hand dryer.
We also recommend carrying paper towels and hand sanitiser to avoid using the dryers. Make sure your pick a sensitive hand gel to take care of little fingers and avoid drying skin out.
If your child is afraid of the toilet flushing – another common fear – then gradually expose them to the noise of the flush at home to break down that fear barrier.
You need to dissolve the fear but doing it gradually is the key. Try to use public toilets that don’t have lots of stalls as this will minimise general noise and bustle, and keep fears at a distance. You can also work your way up to decrease their fears – start by using the sole toilet cubicle at a small coffee shop or the local supermarket before working your way up to cinema or shopping centre toilets that tend to be a lot bigger, busier and louder.
Seeing mum, dad or their older sibling use the “big toilet” is one of the most common triggers for toddlers. That’s why it’s important to lead by example both inside the house and out. Choose your moments (i.e. not when your toddler is tired or grumpy) and tell them that mummy/daddy needs to use the toilet when you’re out and about.
Talk to them throughout the process and tell them what is going on, so that it all becomes more familiar and less of a threat. If they appear really terrified, you can start small and just go into the toilets to wash your hands. It’s all about pacing the process and turning something unfamiliar into something routine and safe through frequent practice.
When they start to become more confident, casually ask if they would like to use the toilet too. If they are ready, don’t make a huge deal of it because this will only make the issue into something bigger (and scarier) than it really is. Praise them for every bit of progress they make and if they’re not yet ready, don’t push it. Respect his or her feelings and know that readiness is key in potty training and every aspect of child development.
And remember, certain fears are just part of the natural development process and children will often outgrow their fear before you’ve even had a chance to knock it on the head. Patience is key. Best of luck!
The Family Seat is built with an ergonomic, solid construction resulting in a strong, stable seat to give your child confidence during the potty-training process. For advice on any aspect of potty training and for any help purchasing a Family Seat, email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org . Family Seat supports the children’s communication charity I CAN, who are experts in helping children to develop the language, speech and communication skills that they need to thrive in our 21st-century world. We donate 50p to I CAN on each and every seat purchased through the official Family Seat website.