Dread of the toilet is common among toddlers. We don’t blame them. But how to help?
What is poo anxiety and why are toddlers afraid?
Sometimes referred to as ‘poo anxiety’ or ‘poo phobia’, many children are uncomfortable or wary of using a potty or toilet to have a poo the first few times, where they have fewer problems weeing.
Aside from ‘splashback’, they may worry pooing is going to hurt them. A bout of diarrhea or constipation can also kick off anxiety or embarrassment.
This might be a phase they overcome quite quickly, but for some kids it’s a stickier problem which can cause potty training regression to ‘poo withholding’ or avoiding going to the toilet.
How to help your child ‘let go’ of poo anxiety
‘Holding it in’ is not good for anyone and infections and constipation can arise if children get into the habit of it. We found these potty training solutions to get them over this hurdle.
Keep the conversation going
The best way you can get to the bottom of your child’s poo anxiety is by sitting down and encouraging them to talk about it. Explain that everyone does it and that adults too can suffer from diarrhoea or constipation. Hopefully they’ll learn their poo won’t hurt them and, although it may be scary to start with, they’ll get used to it.
Are they sitting comfortably?
Try to make potty time stress-free and unpressured. They might well feel more relaxed if you read a book or watch a favourite show with them while they are sitting on the potty.
What Big Kids do
Encourage your toddler to imagine the excitement of becoming a Big Kid – an older sibling or cousin may be a useful example here. Acknowledge your child’s fears but explain that ditching nappies is one of the steps on the road to becoming one of those cool Big Kids.
Keep calm and carry on
If you’re feeling anxious or tetchy yourself – maybe you really want your child to be nappy-free for starting nursery or going on holiday – they may pick up on this. Try not to pile on the pressure.