The One Thing that Can Derail Your Child’s Potty Training You Didn’t Expect

Weeks without an accident. Willing to use public toilets without issue. We were on a roll with this potty training. And then it happened.

The one thing I never saw coming that derailed my son’s potty training.


Here we were sitting on the toilet doing our thing (me holding my son) when it flushed. We hadn’t moved. I swear. I thought it would at least wait ‘til we were done.  Apprarently it can decide to flush on its own even when you don’t move.

My poor son freaked out. Who wouldn’t? It makes even adults jump (like me).

And then we had to start over again in the potty training experience.

Any toilet was now scary and ‘no flush’ became a constant refrain regardless of what I said or did.

Teaching him that the handle meant it didn’t flush on its own and that you could control the flush helped and he proceeded to be point it out when he saw a toilet ‘handle, you flush.’ But wouldn’t use it, just the kiddie potty.

Now weeks later we are moving forward and able to use the big potty at home (without the kid insert) but not in public.

I wish the auto flush was never invented. The old fashioned handle is better. Who needs something more ‘hygenic?’ That’s what good hand washing is for.  But they’re here to stay and we can’t just avoid them.

So what can you do?

The Solution

There are actually a few options to help your son or daughter overcome their fear of the auto flush.

  • Help them understand what it means to be brave in the midst of being scared.  This helped my son with his fear of the noisy vaccuum.  Read and talk about problems your son or daughter has and strategies they can do to be brave just like the character who faced his problem.   What Do You Do With a Problem is a beautifully illustrated book with a strong message about overcoming fears; it can work great with this particular problem too.
  • Talk to them about the auto flush and how to recognize it versus the handle. This helped my son not be scared of all toilets.
  • Cover the sensor: sticky note, small burp cloth, piece of masking tape, or toilet paper – whatever works for you. Tell them that you’re doing this and you can even have it be a magic trick. This will allow your son or daughter to use the toilet in public and overcome their fear. As time goes on and they get older you could stop doing this process. You can see how to do it here.

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