Training in Public

Toilet training can be one of the most rewarding parts of raising a child. Not only is it a sign that your child is developing healthily, but it is also a sign of your child’s growing independence. However, toilet training children is not without its ups and downs, particularly when it comes to getting your little one to use the toilet in a public place! Training in public is probably the most difficult stage of child toilet training, and most kids experience at least a few difficulties with it. But never fear! Here are some great ways to help your child overcome her fears of toileting in public!

Why Public Training?
As you probably know, potty training needs to be performed in a number of stages in order to familiarize your child with the toilet and how to use it. Most children learn how to use their potty chairs and then graduate to using the "big" toilet at their family home. Once your little one has become comfortable using the potty at home, he will probably be ready to learn how to use the toilet when he is in public. This is one of the most important steps in potty training as it will allow your child to feel comfortable using the toilet at preschool, at friends’ houses, and other public places.

Common Problems with Potty Training in Public
Many children face a number of potty training problems, particularly when it comes to going in public. Though frustrating for you, it is a normal stage and to be expected. Some difficulties your child may face when it comes to using a washroom in an unfamiliar place include:

  • Fear: Many children are simply scared to use the washroom at the mall, doctor’s office, and other public destinations. And who can blame them? After all, most public toilets are huge, industrial-sized appliances, which look nothing like the toilet that you probably have in your home. With their loud flushes and scary appearance, it is entirely normal for your child to be a little intimidated when it comes to using this type of toilet.
  • Timing: Children who are just learning to use the potty sometimes have difficulty sensing when they need to go. This can be especially challenging in public, when you and your partner are more distracted and less able to check on whether your little one feels the urge. Children can also get caught up in the moment when they are out in public, which may lead to a number of accidents.
  • Holding It In: Many children begin to hold in their urine and bowel movements when it comes time to practice toilet training in public. This often results when the child feels uncomfortable using the public washroom out of fear or anxiety. Though this is a normal phase during public potty training, it can lead to a number of problems for your child, including urinary tract infections and constipation.

Public Potties: Dealing with Different Situations

There are a number of different situations that you and your child will probably have to deal with when it comes to training in public. Here are a few of the most common public places that you may need tips on when it comes to potty training your child.

The Shopping Mall
Everyone needs to go shopping from time to time, and what better place to do it in than a mall? However, because of their size and scale, outings to the shopping mall can take up quite a bit of time, and you will find that your child will need to go to the potty at least once when you are there. In order to make it the best possible experience for your child, prepare ahead of time and work to allay your child’s fears:

  • Familiarize your child with the toilet when you get to the mall. This will give your child a chance to become acquainted with the facilities and to air any concerns.
  • Show your child how to use the public toilet. Take your child into a stall with you, or get a sibling to show him how to use it.
  • Bring a traveling toilet seat with you so that you can place it over the toilet at the mall. Public toilet seats tend to be big, which may frighten your child. Many children’s toilet seats are collapsible and come with a cover so you can carry it discreetly.
  • Your child may be scared of falling off of the toilet in the public washroom at the mall. If this is the case, kneel down and hold your child while she is on the potty. Alternatively, you can sit far back on the toilet, holding your child in front of her.

With Friends and Family
When you and your child are at a friend or neighbor’s home, you have a little more flexibility when it comes to training. However, your child may still feel a little anxious and insecure about using the toilet, so keep these tips in mind to make the process easier:

  • Bring books, games, or toys along with you to the home. If your child needs to go to the potty, he can then use these to occupy himself while he is trying to go. These familiar items can also help him to feel more comfortable.
  • Tote your child’s potty along to your friend’s home. Potties are available in small sizes and are just the right height for your child. You can place it in the washroom when you get to the house and tell your child that it is there for her should she need it.
  • Ask the owners of the home if there are any problems with their toilet, such as a particularly loud flush or a wobbly seat. These things can scare a child out of going to the washroom, so be sure to ask ahead of time. You can then prep your child for these issues when it comes time to go.

While Driving
Road trips are a great opportunity for children to practice their toilet training skills. However, they can also make for a long, smelly ride should there be any accidents! In order to make the best of your road trips:

  • Ask your child to sit on the potty ahead of time.
  • Bring your child’s potty with you in the car. Place it on the back seat and should your child need to go, pull over and let him use it.
  • Tell your child about the wonders of peeing in the woods or forest. This can be particularly fun for young boy!

Tips on Potty Training to Keep in Mind

Training in public can be extremely challenging for both you and your child. However, it will go a lot more smoothly if you remain prepared. Keep these tips in mind for happy toilet training experiences wherever you may be!

  • Have your child go to the potty before you leave the house.
  • Make sure that you have an emergency potty seat or potty with you at all times (you can always leave it in the car if you have to).
  • Take toilet wipes and spare underwear with you on all occasions. You never know when toilet training accidents could happen!
  • Be consistent. Follow the same steps you use at home when out in public as much as possible. This will help your child learn the potty routine more quickly anad will avoid confusion. Find tips on how to be consistent when potty training your toddler at this potty training guide.
  • Be patient and positive! Don’t forget to praise your child every time she uses the public washroom!