In my last post, I talked about how I got my child into her own bed. It’s still working great! I also mentioned that she wouldn’t flush the toilet. Yes, out of seven children, she’s the only one who was scared of flushing. Well, all that is behind us now, so here’s how I got my child to flush in less than a week. In fact, for us it was only one day.
Note: keep in mind that my daughter is 5 1/2, and that this may not work as well or as quickly with children who are younger or who are seriously terrified of the toilet.
Step 1 Talking out fears
Before we began, I talked to my daughter about why she was afraid. What did she think might happen? Did she think she’d get sucked inside? Or was there some other issue? For her, there were two reasons:
First, she was worried about getting sucked inside, so we talked about how big she was and how impossible it was for her to go down the drain. Throwing a tennis ball inside the toilet (or a rock as big as a child’s foot) and flushing it, helps children understand they are not going under. Just like they can’t go down the drain in the bathtub.
Second, we have really old toilets that tend to clog easily, and she was worried about the water overflowing. For her this was even a bigger worry than being flushed down the toilet because she’d already begun to realize she was too big for that. So we talked about coming to get me if it looked like there was too much toilet paper inside and also always watching to make sure everything went down and calling for me if it didn’t. I promised to come running!
Step 2 Incentive chart to help my child to flush
Next I printed a clip art picture of a toilet and gave her some stickers. Stickers are a great place to encourage your child to flush because small children love stickers, while money usually means nothing to them.
Every time my daughter flushes, she can put on a sticker of her choice. For her the stars are really enough, but we also agreed on a certain prize when she fills in a certain amount stickers. I’m thinking that adding in a larger prize will help her flush over a longer period of time and make it a solid habit.
With my kids, spending one-on-one time with them is usually what they want for a prize, but sometimes a special treat works better. This time my daughter has chosen a toy crown. Sometimes, like when she was adjusting to preschool, she needed an incentive every day, but she’s old enough now to wait a few days to earn enough stars for the larger prize.
Step 3 Practice flushing together
After I printed and explained the chart, we practiced together, so she could feel more comfortable. Because we have older, easily clogged toilets, I also taught her to watch the water go down and to come get me if the water started to rise instead. After she flushed the first time by herself, we put on a star.
That first day, my daughter put on 14 stars. Like I told you, she loves stars!
Step 4 Encouragement and help
I think it helped to offer praise along the way, and I let her flush as much as she wanted. One time she asked, “Do I have to flush this time?” My answer was yes, but only after I asked her why she didn’t want to. There was too much paper in the toilet, and she was afraid it would overflow, so I went with her and watched her do it. She was right. It did try to overflow, and I had to fix it, so I’m glad I listened.
This was a success from the very first day. This picture is a week worth of flushing for my daughter. We just kept the paper on the refrigerator all week. Unfortunately, we ran out of stars, so I’m heading to the store today for more. Until then, she’s using other stickers. But the bottom line? She has fear as flushing now. In fact, she’s flushing and flushing and flushing!
Now, this method wouldn’t have worked with her at three because she was too scared, so I recommend don’t pushing too hard. There should NOT be any tears involved in getting your child to flush. It’s just not that important. I mean, think about it. There simply aren’t that many children who remain fearful of toilet flushing into their teens, and my motto is to not stress too much over the things that aren’t going to make a difference in twenty years. Waiting six months or even a year can make a big difference and develop more trust between you.