how to get a 2yo over her terrifying fear of the potty

United States
April 14, 2008 10:11am CST
This is my 4th child. I am no by no means new to potty training. For almost 4 years straight I was potty training one child or another (including 2 very stubborn little girls). But this is new to me. My youngest daughter just turned 2 last week. She is ready to potty train. She screams and cries whenever she pees or poops in her diaper to the point where she almost throws up. As soon as she feels herself starting to pee she starts freaking out and screaming, demanding to be changed and obsessing over her pants being wet (even though they aren't since she is wearing a diaper). The problem is she won't go near the potty. She is absolutely terrified of it. Even suggesting it causes her to hyperventilate half the time. Just now I had to pee really bad so I suggested she go up with me and try to use the potty. Surprisingly she agreed and happily went up the stairs, stood next to the toilet and peered in it (big improvement for her). So I go and she laughs and tells me what to do (sit there, get the "tissue", ie toilet paper, wipe, flush, close the lid, etc). She knows the process. She is a very bright girl and has been using complete sentences since she was 18 months, uses speech to express emotions, etc. So then it is her turn. Suddenly she panics and starts crying, runs to the corner and hides. I slowly bring her closer to the potty and let her stand near it until she calms down. We pour some water in, flush it, toss in a few tissues (real tissues). She calms down so I take her diaper off. This starts some real antics. What I noticed to day when I finally got her to sit down is that she doesn't like the seat. We have one of those little potty seats to put over the toilet. She tries to hold herself above it. I had to take her hands off the seat to get her to actually sit on it and that made her cry harder. Then after a few minutes of crying and finally calming her down enough that she could speak she said it hurt. I asked her where and she pointed to her leg where it met the seat. My first thought was that the seat was too hard (it's cushioned but not much). Then I remember how lately when we change her she won't put her but down on the carpet. She holds it up in the air and cries until you put a diaper on her. Something just isn't right. She won't let anyone touch her diaper area without crying and screaming unless they are using the wipes. Like one day she had this little hair in the crease of her leg (one of my hairs from the carpet). So I, of course, tried to grab it and she freaked out as soon as I touched her leg. Like completely spazzed, yelled, told me it hurt and I was barely touching her. No, she isn't abused. Not even a chance. The only people she is every with are me, hubby, my dad and the kids. She is never alone with my dad and he never changes her. My husband does most of her diaper changes (an agreement we have since he isn't working and I do everything else around here) but I am never far away. He is not abusing her. My older girls change her but her freaking out started before that. I have no clue what her problem is. She obviously has some serious sensitivity issues with her diaper region and someone at sometime (maybe even me) touched her in a way she didn't like and now she is terrified to have anyone touch her there. She really tenses up if you touch anywhere below her belly button. I don't know how to help her. Today she is running around in just a diaper and shirt. This is BIG for her. She absolutely HATES to not have clothes on. She will scream until she throws up unless you put clothes on her. So I am very surprised that she is okay not having pants on. I'm sure it will only last a short time before she asks for pants again. She won't even wear dresses any more because they don't cover her legs all the way. This is a whole other issue we are trying to deal with before summer when she will be wearing tank tops and shorts (which right now would freak her out). She'll be going in for her 2 year check up soon and I will bring it up with the doctor. She is really starting to worry me. I don't know how to get her over this fear of having her diaper off and of the potty. I wouldn't worry about introducing the potty at all if she wasn't freaking out every single time she pees. Every hour she starts screaming she is wet and demands to be changed. She is even waking up in the night screaming she is wet and wanting changed. We are all tired and frustrated and clueless on how to help her. It is just crazy because she is such a smart, articulate child and you would think she would understand. She understands so much that normal 2 year olds don't but just doesn't get that there is nothing to be afraid of when her diaper is off and she is sitting on the potty. (and again, no, there is no abuse going on...100% sure. I am with her 24 hours a day.)
3 responses
@tinkerick (1257)
• United States
14 Apr 08
Wow. Ok, here's my suggestion(s). Get one of those standalone potty seats. (there are many that later you can take the seat off and put it on a toilet). Then when you or your daughters go potty you can take her with you and have her sit on that while you sit on the big toilet. She can then copy you if she chooses, including the whole wipe routine (even if she doesn't actually go). There's also some products out there made especially for kids who are potty training (Kazoo I think is 1 brand). They help make them feel like they can do it on their own and yet the products are made for kids sensitivities. The product line includes moist wipes and fun soaps for handwashing afterwards. If she has her very own toilet products made especially Just For Her, she might relax a bit more. My 1st two were trained on the standalone potty seat.
@tinkerick (1257)
• United States
14 Apr 08
P.S. the other thing about the standalone, is you can have her practice using it in any room of the house - wherever she's comfortable. And then move it into the bathroom when she's ready.
• United States
14 Apr 08
We're probably going to get one this week. We used to have one with the removable little seat but my older kids never used it. They always just used the little seat on the big toilet and the potty chair was a step stool. So we only bought the seat this time, not the whole chair. But since her fear has manifested and the way she has been acting lately we have decided to just get another chair (maybe a fancy one that plays music or something--our old one was just plain white). Then we'll just put her undies on her and let her sit on it whenever she wants. I have also thought of getting the Kazoo stuff but I know my older kids will just waste it all. I used to have just regular foaming soap in the bathroom for them and they used it all up in 2 days (that stuff isn't cheap). I'm afraid they will use all the wipes even though they know they are for her. They already used up all her bath wash that I got just for her because she tends to get dry skin. I might pick some up though and maybe hide it except for when she is in there.
@kezabelle (2985)
14 Apr 08
My eldest was like this and she was terrified, even of the toilet. So we stopped trying tried a few weeks later still the same thing but 2 months after that we tried again and she was fine and was dry day and night from that day on!! Maybe she just needs a little more time before you potty train, im not one for rushing it and I just didnt see how I was helping her when she was so scared. Her little sister is 2 and just the same crys although doesnt mind the potty but wont use it properly so nappies she will be in for a while im happy to wait until she is ready although I know some people prefer to do it at a set age thats just my opinion xxx
@vera5d (3958)
• United States
14 Apr 08
there is book called potty train one day...the idea is you get a doll that pees (they make a lot of these now so shouldn't be hard to find) and then you & the child teach it how to go and then you reward the doll each time. I don't really know if it works but here's some more info on it: http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/264