How to Potty Train a Child Who Is Afraid of the Toilet

By Rebekah Martin
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Some children have a strong fear of the toilet. At the age of two or three they know that the potty cannot hurt them, but they still shy away from it. You must overcome this fear, however. It may take your child a little longer to become potty trained but in the end your toddler will be running to the bathroom on her own.

If Your Child Is Mildly Afraid

Step 1

Let your child gradually get used to sitting on the potty. Sit her on it fully clothed for a few minutes while you read a book or sing a song together.

Step 2

Sit her on the potty without a diaper after she is used to sitting on it fully clothed. Continue the routine of singing or reading books. At this point, also put the dirty diaper contents in the toilet, so that she knows where they are supposed to go.

Step 3

Introduce underwear to your child once she is comfortable sitting on the potty and using it with you in the bathroom. Pretty soon, she will have forgotten about her fear of the toilet.

If Your Child Is Strongly Afraid

Step 1

Demonstrate how the toilet works. Some children have very logical minds and they just need to see and be shown that something is not scary. Take off the tank lid and show your child how the flushing system works. Let him try it on his own. Put some food coloring in the toilet bowl so he can see how the water flushes away.

Step 2

Allow your child to decorate the toilet. This works especially well if it is his own potty that no one else in the house uses. He can tie a ribbon around the tank or put stickers to form a face on the tank or lid. You can even buy stickers to put in the toilet under the water. Usually used for boys for target practice, they will work for girls, as well, just as something to decorate the toilet.

Step 3

Take your child to the store and let him pick out a potty chair if he is still afraid of the toilet. This smaller version of a toilet may calm his fears a little bit, as the chair is smaller than he and does not make a loud flushing noise. There are many different styles to choose from, but it doesn't really matter what kind you buy. The important thing is that the child is not afraid of it.

Step 4

Forget about potty training for a month if the above steps have not worked and your child will still not go near the toilet or child potty. Your child simply might not be ready for the toilet. Your child may forget what was frightening about the toilet and feel ready to go for it when potty training is reintroduced later.

About the Author

Rebekah Martin is a freelance writer and tutor. Her work has appeared in various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Mississippi College. Martin teaches her young children at home and also teaches Sunday School to preschoolers.