Your Baby & Toddler

Toddler Q&A

- YB


We recently started potty training my 18-month-old daughter. However, even though she tells us when she wants to make a poo, it is proving difficult to make her sit on the toilet. She is really terrified, and it is the same with the potty. What could be the problem?


It’s quite normal for children to start using the potty and then have a bad experience that makes them fear using it again. This is called regression.

However, it sounds like your toddler has had a fear of using the potty from the start. This is fairly common as it is a new experience, and toddlers often fear something new, especially when it involves a developmen­tal stage.

First, assess if your child is ready to be potty trained. All children develop at different stages, so signs that she’s ready can help tell you when to start introducin­g the potty.

Your toddler may be ready when she indicates when her nappy is dirty, she wants to wear underwear, can walk well and she can stay dry during the night and wet or soil her nappies regularly during the day. It’s also important to understand her fear without dismissing it. Try to find out exactly what she may be fearful of, as this will assist in working toward a solution. For instance, you can show her how the toilet works before you make her sit on it, or read books on potty training together. Also give her the opportunit­y to choose her potty. Children have a great need to please their parents, and so by using positive reinforcem­ent (like a reward chart) each time your toddler sits on the potty or toilet (at first even fully dressed), and then each time she uses it, you can help her overcome this. Praise her each step of the way. Try your best not to shout, use negative reinforcem­ent or get frustrated if she regresses or has accidents during this process. Another element that motivates children to use the potty is starting to wear underwear, so taking her to go buy some can also be an incentive. If your toddler still seems to have a fear and resistance of using a potty or the toilet, then forget about it for a couple of months, and reintroduc­e it at a later stage. Place it in an accessible and frequent location. You may find with more time and less pressure, your toddler will be ready the next time the potty is introduced.

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