The Top 5 Potty Training Issues and How to Tackle Them (page 2)

The Top 5 Potty Training Issues and How to Tackle Them

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Updated on Mar 5, 2012

Issue #3: Fear of the Potty

Some children are afraid to use the potty, a concept that parents find incomprehensible. From the child’s point of view, however, there are many aspects of using the potty that can cause fear. Dr. Stavinoha suggests thinking about the potty from a child’s point of view.

For example, toilets are high off the ground, have a cold seat, and make loud noises when flushing. Children who are particularly sensitive to sensory stimulation may be particularly fearful because potty training includes various smells, temperatures, and noises that they may feel are unwelcome. So what should a parent do? Never have your child do something that they are truly afraid of. Instead, try to minimize the causes of those fears. Children with this issue may prefer a low, plastic potty chair rather than the actual toilet seat. If your child is afraid of flushing, just don’t flush until after your child has left the bathroom.

With time, you can try to introduce flushing into your child’s toileting routine, first starting with flushing the contents of a diaper down the potty – a smaller step for children who are afraid to flush away “a part of themselves.” If your child is upset by the smell, don’t hold back from putting a scented candle in the bathroom. In short, do whatever it takes to make your child comfortable in order to reduce the risk of resistance.

Issue #4: Problems with Regularity

For some children, urinating into the potty is mastered much more quickly than doing the same with going "#2." Some children will just refuse to use the toilet for a bowel movement, asking instead for a diaper. At times, this issue occurs when the child is going through a difficult time or has recently been adapting to a change in environment. If this is the case, then the parent should probably supply a diaper until the difficulty has passed. At other times, however, the parent can reserve the right to say, “I’m sorry, but the diapers are gone! I guess you’ll have to go on the potty.”

Of course, that leads us to the next problem related to bowel movements – constipation. When a child decides to withhold a needed bowel movement, it can cause constipation. When a child is constipated, the stool becomes compacted and painful to pass. All it takes is one painful bowel movement on the potty, and the child may become afraid to move their bowels at all. This leads to more withholding, which makes bowel movements even more painful…a vicious cycle.

If this happens to your child, visit your child’s pediatrician as quickly as possible to see whether a stool softener is an option. This can break the cycle of constipation, and hopefully get your child on the road to being completely trained.

Issue #5: Regression

So you’ve finally gotten your child potty trained…and then he suddenly starts having accidents again. What now? First of all, take a look at any stressors or life changes that might be occurring in your child’s life. This could be anything from a recent move or a different daycare provider to a new developmental stage.

If it’s not possible to reduce these stressors in your child’s life, just take the regression in stride. Know that regression is common in recently trained children and try to refrain from communicating frustration to your child. Your child should help clean up from the accident (although you’ll obviously be doing the bulk of the work), unless you find that your child is having too much fun with the cleanup. Keep all communication between you and your child neutral.

If the regression seems like it would be difficult to reverse, backtrack. Go back to the pre-training techniques that you should have been using with your child, such as sitting on the potty at given times during the day and using encouraging talk. When this rough patch ends, your child will be ready to go back to underwear and succeed on the potty.

The most important thing to remember is that you're not alone! Every parent goes through the potty training tug of war, and more often than not, most parents come up against the same kinds of issues across the board. Remember to be patient and positive, and in the end, all your hard work will pay off!

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