QUESTION: My daughter is doing great potty training. But she insists on taking her pants all the way off before sitting down? Is this normal? And how do I stop this when we're out in public restrooms?
ANSWER: Yes, this is normal. Pretty classic actually. In the first few weeks of potty training, many children feel the need to take their pants all the way off.
1) It's more comfortable to sit and adjust themselves as necessary. With pants around your ankles, it's pretty hard to open your legs. Many kids need that full straddle over the potty chair and especially on the big toilet to feel comfortable and in control.
2) In the very-toddler black + white thinking, taking pants all the way off is sort of task they can check off their little list. Pants around the ankles is like a half finished task.
3) I actually think for some kids pants are just a pain in the butt at that stage and they want them gone. All the way gone.
This should subside as your child grows more comfortable with pottying. It's okay for them to do this in a public restroom. It's a pain in YOUR butt but it's okay. For the beginning of potty training, if your kid is willing to sit in a public restroom and pee...taking off their pants is a minor price to pay.
What's a little less "normal" is fully stripping when they have to pee. It happens but for obvious reasons you want to put a cap on it early on. You just need to gently reiterate that "it's okay...you can keep your shirt on to pee" a few times. If it seems to be getting into a weird toddler zone...weird than average toddler zone...like tantrums or refusal to pee until they are completely disrobed, give it a week or two and see if it subsides. If it doesn't, you may need to contact me.
In general, for the beginning of potty training, you want to respect anything that allows your child to feel in control (in regards to pottying)...but as usual, you want to keep an eye out for the particularly unusual.
Cause toddlers are weird. And that's my final answer.