Dealing with Potty Training Challenges

Potty training is often considered a rite of passage in raising toddlers; however, it is not without its hurdles.  For some children, transitioning from diapers to the toilet can be a source of great stress for both the parent(s)/caregiver(s) and child.  Not only can potty training challenges be associated with accidents, constipation, and other gastrointestinal and urinary problems, but children, particularly older children, can experience related social-emotional difficulties as well.

Fortunately, support is available for children and families struggling with potty training.  Georgetown Psychology Associates offers consultation services for parents/caregivers of children at every stage of potty training, from those who are about to begin or in the midst of the process to those who have been successfully potty-trained and have encountered some regression.

The in-person consultation with one of our psychologists is 45-60 minutes in duration, followed by additional support via email or phone as needed.  The consultation meeting is for parents/caregivers only (without the child) in order to gather necessary history and information and because the treatment approach utilizes behavioral techniques implemented by the parent/caregiver.  Most potty training challenges can be addressed with parents and do not require meetings with the child. However, with older children who are experiencing encopresis in particular, it may also be necessary to work with them individually. Encopresis during the elementary school years can be a source of stress, anxiety and shame for children and have social repercussions. For children who are exhibiting extreme anxiety surrounding the toilet (sitting, flushing sounds, etc.), individual sessions may also be warranted. Collaboration between parent, child and therapist can be a powerful tool in helping kids struggling with encopresis.

Before beginning a potty training program, the child should be healthy and medically cleared by his/her pediatrician

Constipation, in particular, can compromise the process, so addressing this prior to the consultation is helpful. As part of our consultation program, we often request permissions to speak with any specialists working with the child so that we have all the necessary information before designing a program. As children transition to daycare and school, we will provide recommendations to assist in this process as well. We know potty training can be a stressful time for many parents and children. Our team is here to help put you and your child on the path to success.

For additional information on our approach to potty training, the following resource is available:

Listen for the Tinkle: The Ultimate Guide to Potty Training and Pooping Predicaments by Maria Zimmitti, Ph.D.

The following children’s books also may be useful in introducing the potty training process to toddlers:

The Potty Book for Girls by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

The Potty Book for Boys by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Once Upon a Potty – Girl by Alona Frankel

Once Upon a Potty – Boy by Alona Frankel

Potty by Leslie Patricelli