Child scared to use the potty?

Last week, I read an e-mail about a child that was scared of the potty.  I know it FEELS a little crazy that your toddler is afraid of the toilet, but it is way more common than you might think!

We talk about toilet training a lot around here, so I had to ask for advice from other families… and the advice was perfect.

We went to our vast community of parents, teachers and experienced care-givers with this question and got a variety of responses. The cool thing is that this is something others have successfully tackled and you can too!

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What to do when your child is scared of the potty

Make the Toilet Seat Hole Smaller

The little seats that sit on the big potty help little ones feel more comfortable. They make them with fun designs on them, so you could find one that would fit your child’s personality.

Toilet Solutions to Make the Potty Seat More Secure

  • Mayfair NextStep2 Toilet Seat with Built-In Potty Training Seat – This is one of the best solutions because it doesn’t change the look of your toilet and it is still functional for adults as well! This traditional style toilet seat has an additional smaller ring that folds down with a slow-close hinge and can be removed when no longer needed.
  • Potty Training Seat with Step Stool – This solution feels really solid and secure for little ones. If your child is having balance issues or a fear of being up high on the toilet, this will help because it comes with an attached step tool and handles along with a narrowing on the toilet seat opening.
  • Potty training seat with handles – This is what I used for my three boys and it worked well. It has a non-slip surface and attaches securely to your home toilet. The handles are great for when kids are sitting down or when you need to remove it for an adult to use the toilet.

Potty Chairs are Less Intimidating

Start with a training toilet.  They are less scary, they are small and they are less intimidating. This totally makes sense! A child-size toddler potty usually has bright colors and kid themes and are scaled to fit their body size perfectly.

Our Favorite Potty Chairs

Potty Stools to the Rescue

Provide a stool near the potty. We found that our son liked having the security of a place to rest his feet and to help him get onto the potty by himself.

Favorite Toilet Step Stools

  • This Squatting Toilet Stool is foldable and comes in a bamboo material with natural color, ergonomic design and is non-slip.
  • The original Squatty Potty Stool is adjustable with a 7 or 9 inch height and fits around the toilet allowing both kids and adults to use the toilet.

Distractions While on the Toilet

Give your kids a lot of books, crayons or even a tablet while sitting on the toilet (distraction is key here). Think about things he/she likes to do and make a play station in the bathroom around those items. A TV tray or small table might come in handy!

Put together a little basket of books for her to keep by the potty. She can feel a little ownership over the time.

Bathroom Tour

Before you officially start potty training, bring your little one with you to the bathroom and show them how you sit and go potty and how easy it is. I know this sounds super simple, but we often overlook the simple when it comes to problems!

Stuffed Animal Potty Schedule

Role play using the potty by using their stuffed animal or dolls to “go potty”. Set a timer and have their favorite animal go on a schedule for awhile.

Cool Reactions

Do not get upset when your child shows fear about the potty, it may take time for them to get used to the idea and there is no point in pushing them too hard.

Encourage her, and remember it may take time, but she will eventually overcome her fear. It is something new and can be intimidating for them.

Read a Potty Book

Get some books on using the potty. There are some fun options that encourage little ones in potty training.

Fun Potty Training Kids Books

Watch a Potty Show

As silly as it may sound, our son loved Daniel Tiger’s episode on potty training. The little son gets in your head, and your child’s, and it was actually very helpful!

Daniel Tiger Potty Song Video

Potty Train in a Weekend…Really!

Follow the tips in the book Potty Train in a Weekend.  We loved the chapter on getting over hurdles like this one. And yes, I didn’t believe it was possible…but it is.

More Potty Training Information from Kids Activities Blog

What about you? Was your toddler afraid of the potty? Do you have advice for others?


  1. Teaching kids some vital skills at the age of 2-3 is quite difficult. Teachers compare those training methods with the one used by pet owners who teach their dogs to perform various actions. Likewise, when a kid is just learning to crawl or sit (stand, walk), it’s obligatory for a parent to show an example – let it be a bear/any other toy.

  2. So my little toddler is definitely scared of the potty have tried both methods a step stool with a baby ring of course he picked it out and the portable potty have two one in the living room and another one in the bathroom … should I wait a little longer even though he is giving me all types is cues??

  3. Kristen Yard says:

    Hi! I would stick with the potty chair for now, and definitely listen to his cues. Can you give him a special stuffed animal/ toy/ book that he can hold onto when he sits on the potty? When my daughter was potty training, I gave her a “potty tiara” (prom tiara I bought at Claire’s, haha) and she could only wear it when she was “Princess Potty” (sitting on her little potty chair). She loved it and it really worked! I also watched an Elmo potty dvd with her over and over, and we read books about the potty, too. I started keeping her potty chair in the living room, because I noticed she would feel left out and less likely to go potty when it was in the bathroom (she didn’t want to miss out on anything the rest of the family was doing, lol!). All of this warmed her up to the idea and she was potty trained pretty quickly! Good luck, mama!

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