Some kids just won’t go on the toilet! They may be well over 3 years-old and still refuse to use it. Usually, it’s a form of fear- a fear of “losing a body part.” Used to using their diapers and feeling the safety of closeness, this group of toddlers just isn’t ready to let go. But they may be delaying acceptance to school or camp programs that require that they be toilet trained. Smart and mature in every other way, such toddlers are a puzzle to their parents.
How to Help Them
Since anxiety is at the root of toilet refusal, the first thing that must be addressed is the child’s fear. Once the fear is addressed, a simple behavioral program (normal toilet-training procedures) should work. Until the anxiety is addressed, a behavioral program may not be successful. Many parents have “tried everything” with no positive results. They get frustrated and end up making their little child feel bad about him or herself. This is unfair, because the child simply can’t help his or her anxiety. Anxiety is an “irrational” out-of-conscious-control brain glitch. The child can’t do anything about it. But the parent can.
Bach Flower Remedies
The parent can reduce the child’s anxiety by starting him on Bach Flower Remedies. The remedies Mimulus, Rock Rose and Cherry Plum will help the child deal with the fear of letting go. These can be purchased online or at a health food store. A mixing-bottle (a 30ml/1 oz. glass bottle with a glass dropper) should be purchased at the same time. Fill the mixing bottle with water almost to the top. Add 2 drops of Mimulus, 2 drops of Rock Rose and 2 drops of Cherry Plum. Add about 1 teaspoon of brandy to preserve the bottle. It is now ready to use. Put 4 drops of the mixed remedy into a small amount of liquid ( up to 8oz. of water, milk, juice, soup, cereal etc.) and let the child have a sip or as much as desired. The remedy should be given 4 times a day (morning, noon, afternoon, evening). It is tasteless and totally harmless (it’s even safe for pregnant women and newborn babies!).
Give the remedy for 2-3 weeks. After this period, start the toilet training program. There are many ways to do this. For instance, take the child’s clothes off and let her run around the house naked for a few days, taking her to the toilet about an hour after meals and any time she seems to need to go or has started going. Just pick her up and put her on the toilet. No rewards are necessary for going in the toilet apart from a show of pleasure. Certainly, no punishments or disapproval should be used when the child doesn’t make it to the toilet. You can also put the child naked and standing upright in the bathtub right after a nap. Turn the water on a little. This can encourage urination. This is helpful if the child isn’t used to urinating on the toilet yet.
It is important not to offer the child a diaper once you start the serious toilet training program. The child must confront his or her fear. However, once on Bach Flower Remedies, this will be much easier for the child to handle. Sometimes, the entire issue disappears and the child just trains himself!
You can find more information on Bach Flower Therapy online, in books, and throughout this site. You can also see if there’s a Bach Flower Practitioner in your area for further guidance.
Try this approach with your reluctant child and hopefully, you’ll both be pleasantly surprised.