Thursday, December 10, 2009

Potty Fears

Fear are a normal part of childhood. Fears might be a small isolated moment when your child is face to face with something unfamiliar. A simple explanation, a helpful suggestion or a hand to hold might be all your child's need to move forward. Some times all your child need is a familiar context, "HEY, THIS TOILET LOOKS DIFFERENT THAT OURS. LOOK AT ALL THE WAYS IT'S THE SAME AS THE ONE IN OUR BATHROOM." Rational support can help in situation where the fear are specific and clear.

Other times fears are deep and developmental. the potty training years coincide with time of sweeping emotional growth. The deepest fear may not be the toilet at all, it may be the more developmental struggle with separation. Separation struggles recur all through childhood as your child grows slowly and steady into a person, sleeping crawling, walking, potting, going to school and making friends.

Young children often cannot express new complex emotions verbally and rationally. Your child cannot calmly say "IM AFRAID IF I FALL INTO THAT BIG TOILET" or "I'LL SLIP INTO THE DRAIN AND NEVER SEE YOU AGAIN." Or, as one three years old told her mother after weeks of distress, "I WANT TO WEAR DIAPERS TO BED BECAUSE I DONT WANT TO GET OLD AND DIE."

Before you can calm your child's fears, you must grow comfortable with your own. Children have to face some fears in order to grow emotionally. It isn't easy to see your child struggle, but its necessary.

Eliminating The Source

If There's a simple solution to a fear inspiring situation by all means use it. But you cannot and should not eliminate all sources of fear. The fear may have little to do with particular situation and everything to do with your child sense of power and control. Its better to teach your child that he can handle the situation, he is strong, smart and capable. Of corse, telling him so doesn't make it so. You must give him the tools to face these age appropriate problems.

When rational explanation fails, you can create routines that pump up your child's power reserves. Routines and ritual transform the unknown into something safe and predictable. Your child is no longer a small person in an out of control situation. Your child is the master of his world. Potty training is an emotional accomplishment as much as it is a physical accomplishment. Addressing fears as they raise will teach your child potty flexibility and all important adaptability. It's big world out there, and it's full of potties.

Responding To Potty Fear

Responding to your child's potty fear is as easy as ABC.

  • Acknowledge, never dismiss a fear as trivial or nonsense. Your child fear may not be rational to you as an adult, but it always adhere to the standards of child-logic. You may not know where it generates. It may contradict good sense. But it is real to your child. Respect what your child feels with a compassionate adult perspective.

  • Balance your response between comfort and power. Your child has an adult partner by her side, someone who can reassure her that he is safe and capable. It's a fine balance, too much safe you slip into an overprotective mode, robbing your child of his skill building, too much capable, and you rob your child of the emotional growth that parallels the behavior growth.

  • Conquer together or alone. Every fear is an opportunity. Solutions will be personal, but there must be some sort of resolution. When possible, let your child decides what to do. Present your child with few options, sometimes he just need help knowing what to do next. Then he can conquer the fear alone. Sometimes he's willing to act but he needs your hand or the physical reassurance that he is not alone. Other times, you will have to act alone but with him watching as you act as a brave and resourceful role model.