So my three year old has developed a serious toilet phobia. She’s still not completely potty trained (I know, Shhh… I don’t want to talk about it.), and on most days she will insist she doesn’t need to go potty. In fact she’s quite adamant that she is Never Going To Go Again. Which inevitably leads to one accident after another. But I digress. The issue here is… On the best of days she will head willingly into the bathroom, grab her little ring seat, put it on the big toilet and do her business. However the other day she marched in there, climbed up on the stepstool and sat down without first putting her little seat on. And she fell in, I mean completely into the bowl. I heard screams and came running to find her stuck in the toilet, body folded in half, feet sticking out kicking in the air. She was a bit freaked out, but I was able to calm her down pretty quickly. No big deal, right? I mean Big Sister fell into the toilet when she was little too. It happens.
Wrong. Big deal. Really big deal. The problem isn’t at home. Oh sure, the first couple times she sat down to use the potty she was nervous, but she got over it. The problem is when we’re out in public. She walks into a public washroom willingly enough, even requests to go, as my curious little cat wants to see every public washroom in existence. But the moment we step foot into a stall and she sees an actual toilet she freaks. and I mean Freaks with a capital F. My reassurances that I will hold her tightly and she will be just fine mean less than nothing.
It’s extremely frustrating. Ever try and wrestle a resistant three year old onto a toilet? one who is doing a two by four impression while crying and screaming at the top of their lungs? all while kneeling in a narrow public washroom stall? Yeah, it ain’t pretty. Add in the fact that not every restroom we step into is exactly um… spotless, and it can get downright nasty. I’m also not exactly fond of the dirty looks strangers shoot me as I emerge from the stall with whimpering teary eyed preschooler in tow.
She’s also been having reoccurring nightmares, where “Mimi flush me down the ghost toilet”. The kind where she wakes screaming in the middle of the night. And yeah, I’m not even sure what exactly a “ghost toilet” is, except “it scary, scary.”
I feel bad for her. I hate seeing my normally fearless go-getter scared of anything. But if we are going to be perfectly honest here, I will also admit I have lost my temper with her more than once. I have walked out of a filthy public stall shaking with anger and frustration.
I don’t know what to do. She isn’t just throwing a temper fit, or being willful. She is genuinely terrified. When given the option of doing something fun, like saying being at the splash pad, or going home so we can use “the safe toilet”, she would rather head home.
Have any of you ever gone through something similar?
How did you help your little one get over the toilet terrors?