Toddlers are proud of themselves when they make big accomplishments. And of course, going to the restroom successfully all alone, for a toddler, may seem like the Holy Grail. Yet, for many, potty training seems illusive for parents and children alike and the reason why has and will continue to baffle many for generations. Toddlers are often afraid to use the restroom all alone and if parents understood the reasons why, then potty training may not seem so bad or hard after all.

“Potty training fears are the number-one reason parents hire me as a toilet-training consultant,” registered nurse Violet Giannone, RN, tells Romper in an interview. “It can be extremely frustrating to potty train a child that is by every measure potty-training ready but will not go because he is afraid.”


So, according to the experts and, what are the top four reasons why your toddler is terrified of using the toilet?

1. They are actually afraid of the toilet

“The toilet can be scary to a new potty trainee for many reasons,” explains Allison Jandu, owner of Potty Training Consultant, LLC. “The size alone can be intimidating, causing the child a feeling of instability while they sit, not to mention they probably can’t get on and off by themselves very easily. Then there is the splash factor, which can cause a child to feel like something is coming out of the toilet to get them. And children who are wary of loud sounds can be frightened by the flush.” To avoid this, make sure you start off with a toddler-sized potty, helping the little ones feel at ease. To help them out a little better, let them choose which potty chair they like the best.

2. They are afraid to “let go”

“Fear often stems from how different it feels to release in the potty versus in a warm, cushy diaper,” states Giannone in the interview. “The child feels that every time they pee —and particularly when they poop — that a piece of them is falling into the toilet. Many times, they view their poop as part of their body, so releasing that can be incredibly scary.” Gradually help them feel at ease and encourage them let go while letting them know that you have been scared too but that there is nothing to be afraid of!

3. They are constipated

One of the biggest reasons that a child is afraid of the toilet is that it is painful to go. Associating constipation with pain and the toilet, of course they would be apprehensive. “Always talk to your child’s doctor first” if you suspect constipation is behind the potty struggle, says Jandu in her interview with “But in most cases where it has been three or more days since your child has pooped, I recommend a low dose of Miralax stool softener, along with a daily probiotic.” Make sure to keep a lot of high fiber fun foods around as well and plenty of water. There is truth behind the old adage-an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

4. They don’t like unfamiliar restrooms

After mastering potty training at home, parents may experience a set back when it comes to public or unfamiliar restrooms. “Public restrooms pose challenges in potty training, sometimes for months after your little one has been using the potty consistently at home,” says Jandu. “Heck—even I try to avoid them if possible! Public restrooms are loud and echo-y, full of cold, hard surfaces, strange smells, and strange people.” To help out with this problem, Jandu also recommends a gradual process-conquer home first, then let them conquer a relatives restrooom, and next step-public. There are plenty of family restrooms available so that your little one won’t feel too out of sorts.

Remember, potty training is a chore and definitely a challenge. But, no child has ever gone to college in pull-ups! You both will feel a sense of accomplishment if you just hang in there. And when they conquer the commode, give them a reward, because they would have earned it! Do you have some potty training tips that you’d like to share? Sound-off, we want to hear from you!

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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