Potty Training Resistance

Potty Training Resistance

In many potty training cases, we hear about parents dealing with kids who are being incredibly resistant to the potty training process.
Children who are refusing to potty train may be experiencing confusion about what's expected, emotional fears, painful physical sensations, or general rebellion.

Clarifying What's Expected
Toddlers need new learning experiences broken down into bite sized steps.
If a parent uses a particular method for potty training, they must take time before the start of training to understand all the steps involved in that method.
Once these steps are understood by the parent, it will be far easier to communicate to the child what is expected and how to accomplish the desired outcome.

Emotional Fear
Potty training can be an emotional time for children. Toddlers may fear detachment from the parent as they discover each step in the potty process takes them further away from a routine they have always known.
Once a time of cooing, toe tickling, shouts of "pee yew!", and tummy rubbing, potty time has now become a private and independent time.
Children need to understand that their parent is still just as committed to special times as before. Parents can replace diaper changes with a small board book after a successful potty break.
Obviously, once the child realizes that Mom doesn't love them any less than before, their need for emotional support will diminish. They'll be able to replace their fears with a real sense of accomplishment and pride in their new abilities.

Remember, your toddler is at a stage where they are trying to actively assert their independence for the first time. Asking yes/no questions is a recipe for disaster, as your toddler will probably yell a resounding "No!" even if he or she would say "yes" to the request under rational circumstances.

How do you stop them from doing so? Don't give them the chance to! Instead of asking them whether they want to go potty now, tell them that it's time to practice sitting on the potty in a calm, even tone.

One mistake a lot of parents make is spending too much time in discussion. Keeping discussion to a minimum ensures that you don't reinforce a refusal to use the potty with attention.

When things go wrong, you can give your child positive reinforcement by rephrasing comments like "You know how to do this, so why aren't you?" into calmer, more supportive statements, like "I know you know how to do this, and you can try again if you can't this time".

To minimize failures, be matter-of-fact about them. Don't allow your negativity to reflect itself in negative results on the toilet. This author has found that many toddlers are "addicted to choice". If a parent moves through the day giving the child one choice after another, this can foster an elevated sense of control. Parents may be unaware that they're creating conflict by offering the toddler to control too many aspects of their environment. "Do you want orange juice or apple juice?" "Do you want the red cup or the blue cup?" "Do you want bacon or sausage?" and so on and so on.

If a parent suspects their child is addicted to choice, they may "test" the situation by removing choices and simply making the decision to serve orange juice in the red cup with bacon and eggs.
If the toddler reacts with negative behavior, the parent can address the behavior with whatever consequences they have chosen for their home.
Once the child understands that the parents is constantly in control they will be more cooperative.

Irrational Fears
Even if none of the explanations you've read so far seem to be the problem, and the roadblocks between your child and potty training success don't seem to be eroding with time and consistently positive attitude, there are still other possible explanations.

If your toddler demonstrates some sort of irrational fear when faced with the idea of using the restroom and you've ruled out constipation, there are several other possible explanations.

The reason some toddlers are afraid of the toilet is, frustratingly enough, the same reason games like peek-a-boo are so amusing to them. Toddlers often don't develop object permanence, the understanding that things out of sight still exist, until they're nearly three years old.

In peek-a-boo, the object that's being moved in and out of a kid's field of vision is effectively there one moment and gone the next. Every time it reappears is an amusing surprise for them, because out of sight really does mean out of mind for your child.

When it comes to toilet training, though, this can cause your child a significant amount of anxiety. The idea of their poop being flushed away to an unknown place can be frightening, and your child might be afraid that he or she will be flushed away, too.

The next time your child uses a pull up or diaper, go with them and let them flush the stool down the toilet. Gross though it may sound, it's important to let your kid get used to flushing poop down the potty, even if it means letting them flush yours after you use the restroom. You need to reassure them that their poop is going somewhere safe, and that they'll stay here and be safe, too.

Another common potty-training obstacle is the fear of falling into the toilet bowl. The best way to remedy this is to purchase a toilet training seat that's stable and comfortable, as this will help your child to relax, which we know will help them perform better when they're ready to use the toilet.

Lastly, ensure that you're always there when they need to use the restroom, and make it clear to your child that you'll keep them from falling in. For further reading, see our article on Making the Bathroom a Comfortable Place. Remember, your child trusts you, and you should use that to their advantage.

Need more potty training tips and advice on potty training problems or just general advice, check out all of our Potty Training Articles!

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