It is not uncommon for toddlers to fear using or sitting on the toilet. A number of common phobias include:
- Fear of trouble and pressure
- Particularly if they don’t learn toileting quickly
- Fear of hard, painful stools/constipation
- Fear of falling into the toilet
- Fear of being flushed away
- Fear of opening bowels on the toilet
- They may wait until wearing a nappy before emptying their bowels
- Fear of losing part of the body
- Passing a stool (poo) can sometimes feel like this
- In ratio to their body, the large size may be worrying
- Fear of being too late to the toilet
Karitane Tip: As a general rule, your toddler will outgrow these fears with calm, encouraging support. Sometimes you may need to wait several weeks or months – and that’s OK.
Dealing with toilet fears:
It’s important to notice when your toddler shows worry or fear. Acknowledge these phobias, and support your child by allowing for setbacks – as this is often how we progress.
If your toddler still wears a nappy, encourage them to do their poo on or near the toilet. After this, empty your child’s stool from the nappy into the toilet – so they can see and understand how the flush works. Remember to offer lots of praise and gentle encouragement for all their small successes throughout this period of learning.
If your toddler experiences constipation, it is important to address this before initiating toilet training. For more useful information on understanding your toddler’s emotions, see our Toddlers tab.
Karitane Tip: If your child experiences difficulties with toilet training, or you have concerns about your child’s progress, it’s important to seek professional help. Consult your family doctor, paediatrician, or child and family health nurse.