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Samantha was potty trained before her 2nd birthday. I was surprised at how smooth, easy and quick a process it was. After about a week of no accidents, I ventured to the mall. A couple of hours into our outing Samantha looked up at me and said "Mommy I have to pee." I was thrilled and raced to the nearest washroom. Samantha seemed really excited about using the public washrooms. We entered the stall, lined the toilet and pulled down her pants. I picked her up and placed her on the toilet. And before I knew it the automatic flush went off. Samantha started screaming in complete and sheer terror of what was happening refusing to pee. That was the beginning of the end of peeing in public washrooms or any washroom she was not familiar with. (mental note: to avoid surprise flushes in the future, I will cover the automatic sensor at the back of the toilet with my hand!!!)
To this day, Samantha refuses to pee in public washrooms. Funny enough, she has never had an accident while out. At Samantha's two year old check up, I asked her pediatrician what I could do to help her overcome her fear of public washrooms and her response was simply she will outgrow this like anything else, I just have to wait it out. Easier said then done.
So taking matters into my own hands, this is what I have been doing and what my next step is in my quest to overcome Samantha's fear of public washrooms.
  • Ensure Samantha goes potty before embarking on any outing. Instead of asking her if she has to pee I instead give her a choice if she wants to put her shoes on first or pee first. This way she feels like she is in control. What I have learnt is if you ask a toddler if they have to pee the answer 95% of the time will be "No"  
  • Limit outings to 3 hour maximum so her bladder is not crazy full. This is totally an avoidance mechanism rather than a solution to the problem
  • Visit public washrooms when out to get her comfortable with the idea.  
  • Go potty while out to demonstrate how easy and painless it is for mommy to use the public washroom. Learn by example.... maybe????
I have read stories of parents who actually hop on the toilet and sit far enough back to leave room for their child, get them situated and hold onto them while they go potty. I think this is a bit of an extreme measure but one that I am willing to try if it helps Samantha overcome her fear.
The important thing to realize is a toddlers fear of public washrooms is a genuine fear. If we think about it, they are noisy, not exactly spotless and full of strangers coming and going. Patience and understanding can be hard at times but is needed to help your little overcome their fear....at least that is what I am telling myself.
If anyone has any advice or has lived through a similar situation and conquered their little ones fear of the public washroom I would love to hear how you did it.
 
SSMom

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