Potty training is hard enough. But when you add the temperamental nature of a toddler into the mix, you’re bound to run into problems at some point.
Toddler tantrums are a common occurrence throughout this childhood stage, so it’s likely you’re going to have to deal with a few toddler tantrums from time to time.
The next time your little one throws a fit about potty training, consider these six simple tips for dealing with potty training tantrums.
What are Potty Training Tantrums?
Temper tantrums are a normal part of toddlerhood, whether you’re potty training your little one or not.
These temper tantrums often stem from a variety of issues your toddler deals with on a daily basis, including their limited vocabulary, their inability to properly express their emotions, and a desire to be more independent.
Potty training tantrums are fits thrown by a toddler as a result of not being able or not wanting to complete a potty training task.
Tantrums often come along when your toddler is frustrated with something they’re trying to do, dealing with something they don’t understand, or struggling to show their independence from you.
And when your toddler is potty training, all those difficulties will manifest themselves at some point in time.
From the inability to control their bladder in the beginning stages of potty training to the insistence that they wipe their own butt, your toddler is going to deal with a lot of frustration as they’re potty training.
Consider the Root of the Problem
The key to helping you deal with the inevitable tantrum that will come along with all those potty training frustrations is to understand where those potty training tantrums are coming from.
When your toddler begins throwing a fit, think about the factors that could be contributing to their tantrum:
- Are they frustrated with something they feel like they’re not doing correctly?
- Do they want to be more independent but are struggling to do something by themselves?
- Maybe they can’t communicate what they want because they don’t know the correct words?
Whatever the factor that contributed to the tantrum may be, understanding where the fit is coming from is the first step toward resolving the tantrum – and possibly preventing the same tantrum from happening again.
Try Not to Fix the Problem for Them
During the toddler stage, your toddler is dying to be more independent. And while that need for independence may lead to frustrations and tantrums, taking care of the problem for them may make the tantrum worse.
The next time your toddler is struggling with pulling up their pants or washing their hands, fight the urge to do it for them to save a little time.
Instead of doing it for them, let them work through the problem with your help and guidance.
Try these alternatives to fixing the problem for them:
- Demonstrate the correct way to do the task
- Give them suggestions for doing it a different way
- Ask them if they want your help to fix the problem
Allowing your toddler to do it themselves can help them learn and develop a new skill.
And all that practice is sure to make your toddler feel a little more independent and a little more confident in themselves.
Don’t Give in to Demands
Just like any other tantrum your toddler throws about other things throughout the day, it’s important not to give in to the fit.
Instead, think carefully about how you respond so you don’t teach your child that tantrums result in getting what they want. As your child is throwing the tantrum, acknowledge their frustration and help them find a new way to express themselves.
If your toddler can’t find the words for how they’re feeling, help them by asking yes or no questions to get to the root of the problem. And once you find out the issue, take the appropriate actions to help remedy the issue.
Take a Break
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to calm your toddler and resolve the issue that caused the tantrum, it just isn’t possible.
If you find yourself getting frustrated and on the verge of yelling, take a break from the situation. Step away to take a few deep breaths and cool off.
This simple act can help you get a new perspective on the situation and avoid a quick reaction out of anger or your own frustrations.
Another simple way to help you both calm down is to take a time out together with your toddler.
The next time you feel the urge to place your toddler in time out to calm down after a tantrum, think about taking the time out together. This tactic will give you and your toddler a chance to calm down and regroup together.
Teach During Calm Moments
Although it may be tempting to take the time during or after a potty training tantrum to teach your toddler a lesson, it’s a good idea to wait. Your toddler probably won’t be able to learn something new while they’re frustrated.
Instead of trying to reinforce potty training while your toddler is in the middle of a tantrum, wait until later in the day when they’ve calmed down to teach them something new.
During those quiet moments, you can help show your toddler how to unbutton their pants, read a new book about potty training, or give them tips for climbing up to the toilet so they’re ready the next time they need to go.
Think About a New Potty Training Technique
If your toddler continues to throw potty training tantrums each time they use the bathroom, it may be time to rethink your technique.
There are a variety of potty training techniques that could be causing tantrums:
- Did your reward system backfire? Maybe offering too many rewards has led to an expectation of a reward every time your toddler tries to go on the potty. Think about cutting back on the rewards and offering lots of praise instead to help put the focus back on going potty and less on the rewards themselves.
- Have you been punishing your toddler when it comes to potty training problems? Those punishments could lead to shame when it comes to accidents and other potty training issues, which could lead to tantrums. Instead, put a focus on your toddler’s potty training successes by providing lots of praise each time they do something well.
- Do you put too much pressure on your toddler to use the potty? By constantly asking your toddler if they need to go or pushing them to use the potty when they’re not ready, you could be causing undue stress around the process of potty training. Think about using a little bit of reverse psychology on your toddler and act like using the potty isn’t a big deal to help remedy this issue.
And if changing your technique doesn’t seem to make a difference, it may be time to take a break from potty training for a little while.
It could be that your toddler just isn’t ready for this big step, which is causing him to be frustrated about the whole process.
Make sure to keep the option to use the potty open by leaving their potty seat out or asking if they want to try their big kid underwear again, but don’t push the issue until they’re ready to pick up potty training again.
Finally, once you tried all the other tips and you’re sure that your child is ready to be potty trained, the most important thing you can do is to remain consistent.
When tantrums happen, it’s tempting to want to stop the process over and over because it can be overwhelming. But don’t do it.
Stopping and starting over and over again can cause several issues including:
- Sending mixed signals about taking potty training serious
- Showing them that you don’t really mean business
- Giving them the sense that they’ll always be able to go back to diapers if they want
No matter how old you are, consistency is the key to mastering a new skill, but especially for children.
Stick with potty training even when it gets difficult. Work with your toddler and show them that they can do hard things.