When my daughter tells me she needs to go to the bathroom in a public area, I cringe. My oldest daughter has a ridiculous phobia of automatic toilets. So when I walk into any public bathroom and see that sensor, I have to prepare her for a life lesson that just doesn’t seem to sink in:
It’s not going to eat you.
When she walks into the stall and sees the sensor, she jumps back in utter terror. Her eyes bulge. Her hands shoot to her mouth with a gasp. Heaven forbid there are other people in the bathroom with us. She yells out that she’s scared and all I can think about are the women in the other stalls wondering what is hiding in our potty. Then I have to convince her to get on, which consists of me try to move her closer and screaming like I’m murdering her.
Standing in a bathroom explaining to your preschooler that the toilet is only going to flush when she stands up is like convincing her to bungee jump off a bridge. I used to have to straddle the toilet to block the sensor as she peed in front of me. That just got weird, so now I’m stuck waving my hand in front of the sensor so that it “sees” her. If not she jumps up and pees all over her clothes. At that point I’m ready to start crying myself because I’m spending the entire dinner hovering over a stupid toilet, just so that it doesn’t flush while she’s sitting on it.
There is no point in trying to explain the design of the machine while we are staring it in the face. So it starts on the way in. Remember honey, the toilet isn’t going to eat you. It’s simple flushing and if you are sitting on it properly it will “see” you and know it shouldn’t flush. I have to say shouldn’t because damnit to hell if that fucking thing flushes and destroys all the parenting I’ve done since she became potty trained I’ll bring a baseball bat in here and go all Office Space on it.
I’ve tried everything to get her over this fear. It only happened once ( it flushing, not eating her) to create a massive meltdown and no matter what I say I’m a liar. I wish I knew some magic thing to tell her to make the fear go away. But instead she refuses to use the bathroom with anyone else in the family, only me. Which I just love hanging out in the bathroom for 10-20 minutes at a time.
What do you say to your kids to help them overcome their fears?
This post originally appeared on Aiming Low but it has since been put to bed so it now lives here! My daughter finally got over her fear after she was nearly 6 years old.