My son is beyond terrified of public bathrooms, even our own home bathroom

Marissa - posted on 10/16/2012 ( 3 moms have responded )

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When ever we go out somewhere public like the mall, or just any place in general I can't take my son to the bathroom without him totally flipping out. Like he screams and yells kicks and throws himself on the floor, while im trying to take him to the bathroom honestly I feel so embarrassed the people around probably think im beating him ,it's that bad. And it's no better at home he will not go to the bathroom alone and if we get Him to go to the bathroom he scream and throws himself around if you close the door. He was never like this before I don't know what happened or where this came from but im at the point where I don't want to take him anywhere no more. Oh and he is 4 years old. I don't know what to do no more.

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Rebekah - posted on 10/16/2012

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Sounds like a challenge, for sure.



Rather than backing out slowly hoping he won't notice, tell him up front what your intentions are, if you are going to stand at the door or outside the door, or whatever. If you sneak out and he "catches" you, it will only make him feel more anxious because he thinks he can't count on you to be there like he wants. If you clearly spell out your plans and stick with it, then hopefully he can focus on what he needs to do instead of worrying that you're going to disappear. The incentive has to be strong enough for him to be willing to give up the fearful behavior. Maybe experiment with different rewards to see what will motivate him?



You didn't mention anything about what your son has to say about it...how does he explain what's happening? At four, I would think he could offer some kind of clue as to what's going on! Did he see a cartoon or movie that had a bathroom monster in it, or something? :) (I'm trying to think of all possibilities!)



This might be a leap, but is there any chance it might be something more about trying to get your attention, rather than something he's truly fearful of? Might he be feeling competition with the baby? Is this his way of getting time and attention from you? (if it is, he probably can't articulate that)

Marissa - posted on 10/16/2012

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Il ow the public bathrooms scare him cause the auto flush, but he never reacted the way he has been lately. I never let him go to the public bathrooms alone I'm always standing right there with him.nothing happened for him to be scared of the bathroom at home yethe is terrified to go alone. It is very frustrating cause I can be in the middle of cooking and he will freakout cause I can't go with him. Or I'm in the middle of putting my youngest baby to sleep and can't getup and once again he flips. I've tried giving him stickers and prizes but none of it makes him less afraid, ivetroed everything. From going with him and slowly backing away but as soon as he notices I'm taking a step back he freaks out.

Rebekah - posted on 10/16/2012

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When you ask him about his behavior (when he's calm), what does he say? Can he articulate what is troubling him? Does he still go with you in the public bathrooms rather than by himself? Did he have a bad experience that caused this? (I'm hoping he's been under your supervision in public places so that you'd be aware of what happens to him)



What about the noise of the flushing toilets? His reaction would be extreme for that, but some kids (my son too) really hate the loud noise of the flush, especially if its the automatic sensor ones where it seems unexpected.



If you can figure out the cause, that will help a lot with knowing what to do next. But if you can't figure it out, my only suggestion would be to go incrementally and reward him for small steps toward independence. Like at home, start with him using the bathroom with you standing at the door. Then move a bit further away so that gradually you are out of sight but still within earshot (and talk with him so he knows you are there). Rewards can be simple, like stickers that build up to him earning a movie night or some other such thing he would really enjoy.



And when you go out, pick something highly interesting to him but make it contingent on him visiting the bathroom. He needs to at least visit the bathroom to wash his hands (if he doesn't have to use the toilet) without a fuss if he wants to stay longer (if its like a McDonalds playplace or something like that). Otherwise he has to go home. Just some ideas. I hope it helps.

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