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Toddler Refuses Potty

6 Main Reasons Why Your Toddler Refuses the Potty

Potty training your little one can be a long and bumpy road. You’ll have periods of success followed by days and nights of standing in the bathroom, wondering why your child is shying away from the toilet or unable to go when they’re on it. Here are 6 main reasons why your toddler refuses the potty, and what you can do to coax him back in the right direction.

1. They’re Afraid of the Toilet

Toilets can be scary, especially for toddlers exposed to them for the first time. They’re cold, hard and big, and they make loud noises when they flush.

This is where training potty chairs really shine. They offer a more comfortable transition between diapers and adult toilets.

Even if you’re not trying to potty-train on a big toilet right away, potty chairs can still seem like unusual objects to children. If this is the case, try to personalize the potty chair, so it seems more comfortable and familiar to your child.

Let him decorate it with stickers or drawings. Write his name on it to let him know it belongs to him.

When it’s time to show him how it works, introduce the idea gradually. Set his teddy bear on the potty or have him sit on it himself fully clothed, so he can get an idea about how things work before it’s actually time to do business.

2. They’re Afraid of Making a Mess

If your toddler still seems fearful of the potty, it may not be the toilet he’s afraid of, but the possibility of making a mess.

He might have had an accident at some point, or seen another child have one. If the people around him reacted in a loud or angry way, it could have made him anxious about the idea of going to the bathroom in general.

In this case, do your best to help and reassure him the next time he needs to go. Talk with him about how the body works and make sure he understands that going to potty is natural and something that everyone does.

When he’s successfully used his potty, be sure to be upbeat and show your love and approval. Give him praise, high-fives, hugs or kisses to let him know that he doesn’t need to feel anxious about going to the bathroom. 

3. They’re Showing Autonomy

Sometimes refusing to use the toilet is just a rebellion. Whether it’s saying no to dinner, bed or a bath, your child will occasionally make it a point to exert his autonomy.

If you’re dealing with a rebellious toddler, try approaching the situation using these tips:

  • Defuse the Situation: Back off for the time being and let him decide on his own if he wants to use his potty or make a mess in his pants.
  • Stay Calm During Accidents: No matter how frustrating it is, never punish your child for having an accident.
  • Don’t Nag: Although your child may need some reminding when you first start the potty-training process, too much hovering and nagging might actually fuel your child’s rebellion.
  • Reward Good Behavior: Remember to reward your child every time he successfully uses his potty, so that he makes a good association with his potty chair despite himself.

4. They Want Privacy

Some children are shy, even with their parents. While you’ll probably need to be present to help when you’re first beginning to potty-train, see if giving your child some privacy makes him feel more comfortable.

You don’t have to leave them alone completely. Simply step outside the bathroom and close the door part way.

If your child is having trouble going to the bathroom at school, find out from the teachers what the usual schedule is like.

If the kids usually go to the bathroom in a group, ask if they can take your child separately. He may even be okay going with his best friend, as long as it’s not with a large group. 

5. They’re Feeling Unsettled

Big changes, like moving to another city, welcoming a new addition to the family, or even just renovating the home, can throw off your child’s sense of home stability or comfort. This, in turn, can affect his feelings about using the toilet.

If this is the case, you may need to stay next to him to relax and reassure him when he needs to use the potty. It may also help to reintroduce familiar objects that comfort him.

If you’ve moved on to the adult toilet, try backtracking to the training potty for a little while. If he’s still using his potty chair, let him hold onto a comforting teddy bear or blanket while he goes, so he can find a sense of safety and stability again.

6. They’re Constipated

Finally, if your toddler is not going to the bathroom even though he’s sitting on the toilet, there’s always the possibility that he’s constipated.

Make sure to include fiber-rich foods in your child’s diet, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Also make sure he’s drinking enough water, as dehydration can cause constipation as much as a lack of fiber. 

If your child is straining on the toilet, gently massage his lower back to see if that helps. If not, have him pull up his pants and try again later, so that the discomfort he’s feeling from constipation doesn’t translate into an aversion to using his toilet.

Conclusion

After learning about these 6 main reasons why your toddler refuses the potty, hopefully you’ll be able to work with him to overcome his aversion. Potty training can be a tough and frustrating process, but with a little psycho-analyzing and a lot of love, you and your child can successfully get through the journey together.

Hannah Tong is the founder of Omaby.com, a blog dedicated to providing accurate advice to mothers regarding childcare. She loves taking care of her kids and teaching them the right things. She is also enthusiastic and loves sharing her experiences to teach others about how to care for their families’ health. Check the latest article (How Long Is Breast Milk Good For After Heating?) here.

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