Even if your child is on the fast track to potty training success at home, public restrooms can pose special potty training challenges. In addition to a generally unfamiliar setting, large toilet seats and loud automatic flushers can be downright frightening for young children. Thankfully, Circle of Moms members have offered great tips for calming the common hiccups of public restroom potty training.
1. Lead by Example
With crowds, loud noises, and long rows of stalls, public bathrooms are far from the comfort zone in which young children first learn to use the bathroom. Promote your child’s confidence in public restrooms by using them yourself. As Angie G. advises, having your child watch you use a public restroom can reassure her that “it is not scary and ‘mommy’ can do it.”
2. Bring Portable Fold-up Seats
Toilet seats in public restrooms are larger than the potty-training toilets many children use at home. It’s no surprise then that children are often afraid of falling in. To assuage their fears, moms like Veronica M. suggest bringing along a smaller portable seat: “They make seats (that fold up to fit in a diaper bag) that snap onto the seat to make it a little more comfortable for toddlers.”
3. Try Sitting Sideways
As mother-of-three Sherri C. explains, another option for combating the large seat dilemma is to place your child sideways on the toilet: “To get them comfortable in public I would sit them sideways on the toilet seat so they had no fear of falling in.”
4. Trick the Automatic Flushers
Between blaring hand dryers, slamming stall doors and plenty of chattering, public bathrooms are seriously noisy. Yet one modern convenience in public restrooms proves especially frightening for young children: motion-activated toilet flushers. “I can see why!” shares Amy M., whose daughter was terrified of the automatic flushing toilets “They’re loud and sound like they're going to suck you in! When it’s an auto-flush, I go in with her and cover up the ‘eye’ (little black sensor) while she’s going until she’s done and out of the stall.” As an alternative to covering the sensor with your hand, Megan S. suggests using Post-it notes to cover the sensor.
5. Have Rewards Ready
If alternative seats and auto-flush interventions don’t help, some moms suggest reverting to tangible incentives. Sarah G. offers: “Maybe have some bribes handy to reward her—cookies, grapes, jelly beans, etc., or stickers if you don’t want to use food rewards...kids like it when there is something in it for them.”
Looking for more tips on potty-training and parenting toddlers?
From a "Potty Training 101" guide to special tips on potty training at night, potty-training boys, and bedwetting in older children, Circle of Moms is a source for information on all kinds of bathroom-related parenting challenges, as well as other major developmental milestones. Try joining the community based on your child's month and year of birth to connect with moms currently going through the same challenges and exciting developments.