6 Tips for Surviving Potty Training Tantrums
As dreaded as they are, temper tantrums are a normal part of toddlerhood. Every toddler is going to have a tantrum every now and then, and many toddlers have them regularly. So what to do when toilet training leads to a dreaded emotional outburst? Below are 6 tips for surviving toilet temper tantrums:
by Brittany Tacket, MA
Brittany Tackett is a psychotherapist, life coach, mental health writer, and mommy to an infant daughter. She currently works part-time as a play therapist at a local elementary school and spends the rest of her time writing, parenting, and running an online collectibles shop. Her approach to mental health is holistic and encompasses all aspects of the human experience. She is trained in a variety of modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, applied behavioral analysis, art therapy, neurolinguistic programming, and positive psychology.
As dreaded as they are, temper tantrums are a normal part of toddlerhood. Every toddler is going to have a tantrum every now and then, and many toddlers have them regularly. So, what to do when there is a potty training tantrum? Below are 6 tips for surviving potty training tantrums:
1) Understand What Tantrums Are
It can be difficult for some parents to understand the nature of tantrums. If your toddler is throwing a tantrum, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is just trying to defy you. Tantrums tend to happen because toddlers have a very limited vocabulary for expressing their emotions, combined with a strong desire to assert their independence. If your toddler starts throwing a potty training tantrum, consider what emotion he may be trying to express or if he feels your training tactics are a threat to his independence.
2) Reassess Your Training Technique
If potty training tantrums continue, consider reassessing your training approach. Are you using punishments that may create feelings of shame or anxiety in your toddler? Is your training inconsistent, making it difficult for your toddler to establish a routine? Perhaps a simple change in your teaching method will make your child feel more at ease and lead to a reduction in potty training tantrums.
3) Don’t Ignore or Give In – Acknowledge Your Child’s Feelings
Just like any other tantrum, be especially mindful of how you respond. Don’t give in to the potty training tantrum, as this teaches your child that a tantrum will help him get his way. By giving in, you can actually reinforce the unacceptable behavior. Some people choose to ignore tantrums instead, but this also isn’t ideal, as it can make a child feel that his feelings aren’t important. Often, the best thing to do is to acknowledge the tantrum for what it is. Be firm but loving. Let your child know the behavior is unacceptable and try to help find another way to express himself. Help him by providing him with words to express his feelings. Use yes or no questions. Ask the child, “Are you feeling scared?”, “Frustrated?”, or “Angry?” Once you determine how your toddler is feeling, address the emotion accordingly and see what you can do to help your toddler feel differently about potty training.
4) Take Your Own Time Out
When a toddler has a tantrum with potty training, a parent’s first reaction is often to put him in time out. Next time this happens, consider taking a time out of your own. Sometimes, this is needed so that you can cool off rather than react to your toddler out of anger or frustration. Try taking a time out together with your toddler. This will not only help you to calm down, but it will help your toddler feel that you are on even ground, rather than seeing himself as being punished for expressing his feelings in the only way he may know how.
5) Take Advantage of Calm Moments
Generally, it is best not to learn something new when feeling frustrated. If your child is having a hard time and throwing a potty training tantrum, back off with the training and re-approach it later in the day. Take advantage of your child’s calm moments. Use this time as an opportunity to discuss going potty, read potty training books, and practice sitting on the potty. By doing this during calm times, you give your child the opportunity to get more comfortable with potty training, which may help reduce some of his tantrums during potty training.
6) Consider a Potty Training Pause
If your child is continuing to have tantrums during the potty training progress and it seems to be causing him a lot of stress, you may want to reassess your child’s readiness.
Perhaps he just isn’t ready for potty training yet. Consider taking a potty training pause. You can leave his potty chair out for him in a location where he can access it and if he chooses to try it, great! If not, that’s okay too. Just reintroduce the potty again after a little potty training time out, whether that’s a few weeks or even a few months.
Additional Potty Training Resources:
How to Deal With Tantrums How to Handle Temper Tantrums When Potty Training