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How to Help a Child who’s Scared of the Toilet

Do you remember hesitating going to the bathroom when you were a kid? To a child with a wild and vivid imagination, the toilet can be terrifying. However, there are ways on how to overcome the fear and eliminate negative thoughts while sitting down to pee or poop.

Why Do Some Children Have a Fear of Toilets?

Toilet training is one of the most difficult tasks for parents, but it’s a necessary skill for your children. All kids must undergo this rite of passage for independence and cleanliness’ sake, and this is where parents come in.

For someone so small, the toilet can seem so big and intimidating. Staring down the hole and wondering where it leads to, or what kind of things could come up can fuel the fear and make them more anxious than necessary.

There’s also the huge transition from going in a diaper to having to go in a strange new apparatus. The fear is compounded with the fear of the unknown – what will happen when I’m peeing or pooping? and more importantly, how can they sit down without falling in?

Here are a few suggestions on how to help children who are scared of the toilet.

Ways to Help Your Child Overcome Their Fear of Toilets

Lead by Example…

Parents can show their children that there’s nothing to be afraid of when using the toilet by demonstrating how it’s done.

First, walk your child through the process of peeing or pooping in the toilet. Sit for around 5 minutes or so to show them that there isn’t any creature or monster that could come out, then stand up and wash your hands. You can also show him or her that the pipes where the water goes is too small for any monster to fit.

Doing it once may not be enough to convince your child. Make it a habit and turn it into a daily ritual until he or she sees it as a routine. You can think of creative ways on how to make their confidence grow- for example, take their favourite doll or stuffed animal and make it go through the motions of doing a potty.

Set Distractions…

Sometimes the best way to potty train is to distract them with the things or activities they like. The distraction will depend on what your child likes, but it’s usually done by books or toys. You can set up a small basket of books or toys he or she could pick up and read or play with. You can also allow a bit of screen time if you think it will help lessen the anxiety. Don’t just leave your kid there though- actively make conversation, which can also add to the distraction.

You can also be creative in your distractions. Sing a song together, play musical toys, listen to music or blow bubbles so they can focus their attention somewhere else. Don’t be frustrated when all the hard work doesn’t produce results- just keep at it and eventually they’ll overcome their fear of the toilet.

Build Up Their Confidence…

Very few children will have potty training completed in a day or two. Aside from being patient, you can play an active role and build up your child’s confidence by doing several things.

Fear of the unknown can be lessened with practice and building confidence. At first, you can start by closing the toilet lid and having him or her sit down on it with their pants on. Do this several times or until you see that they’re not scared anymore. Then, put the toilet lid up and with the pants on and for several times until they get used to it. After this, have them go through the routine with pants down and encourage them to do their business.

Keep in mind that each phase can take days or even a week or two. It’s perfectly fine to stay on the toilet lid up/ trouser up routine as the important thing is that they get confident doing it. Afterwards, the rest shouldn’t be a problem.

Make It Kid-Friendly…

The toilet can be a bland yet menacing object. However, you can spice things up and make it less intimidating and more enjoyable. With the help of colourful stickers, rugs and toys, you can make your toilet kid-friendly. If you have the budget you can build a theme, such as turning it into an ocean with fishes, a cowboy theme with hats or a garden with flowers and butterflies.

Have your child participate in the decoration and he or she might forget their fear of going to the potty. In the same vein, you can add softer lights, a foot stool (so their legs won’t be dangling) or an item that goes in the lid so it won’t feel or look so wide.

Patience is the Key…

Parents should remember that throughout the potty training process that they should be patient. Things have a way of working out on their own, and the same applies to their children and their toilet scares.

It may seem like there’s no progress at times, but keep at it and make time with your child so they can learn to build confidence. Communicate with your kid every step of the way so you can gain insights on what they’re scared of the most. It could be that they think they could fall in and get flushed, or that a monster could come out of the pipes. Pinpointing the cause is progress in itself because by then you’ll know what to do and how to get your child to go do his or her business without being scared.


A child’s fear of the toilet is real, but there are ways on how you can help.

As a parent you should always be by their side when they’re undergoing potty training. They shouldn’t be left alone or the problem may be compounded, and the fear may be more difficult to ease.