Some kids sail out of diapers with ease, while others hang on just a little longer than parents would like. Read on for some tips on how to deal with the most common potty training problems.
It's very common for a child to urinate in a potty before she'll poop in a potty. For some children, there's a lot of anxiety surrounding poop. Some kids think they're flushing away some part of their body while others just feel too vulnerable sitting in the potty to poop. Work slowly through these difficulties, because forcing the issue can cause anxiety, create a power struggle or encourage the child to hold her poop, leading to constipation.
Make sure the child understands that poop is food her body doesn't need and that it's okay to flush it away. If she seems to feel vulnerable sitting on the potty, encourage her to sit on the potty when she doesn't have to poop and read her a book or sing her a song. Ask her to poop in her diaper while standing or squatting in the bathroom. Work up to having her sit on the potty while she poops into a diaper. Then place a diaper in the potty and have her poop onto it.
Some children are resistant to using public bathrooms. If this is the case, parents should check their own behavior. Sometimes adults feel grossed-out by public restrooms and kids will pick up on their anxiety. If parents find public bathrooms icky, they should hide it. Public bathrooms also can seem scary to kids because they're noisy. Automatic flushers and hand-dryers can induce anxiety. Sticky notes over toilet flushing sensors will stop the automatic flushing. Parents also can have paper towels on hand so that kids who are scared of hand dryers won't have to use them.
Overcoming Power Struggles
If potty training has turned into a power struggle, it's a battle a parent simply can't win. No one can force another person to use a toilet. In power struggle situations, the parent has to let go of all control of the situation. Parents have to explain to children that using a toilet is their job and they have total responsibility. A parent shouldn't even ask the child if he has to use the toilet or remind him to use it before leaving the house. Once the child realizes he's in control, the power struggle should cease.
If a child is particularly resistant to potty training and is still experiencing difficulties at age 4 or 5, a pediatrician can provide a therapist referral to help the child overcome potty training anxieties. This may seem like a big step, but seeking professional help is better than having potty training issues affect a child's relationships with his parents or peers.