We bought an (Elmo) foldable toilet seat when we brought our son home from Russia. Didn't use it much but removed the ick factor. Double bag it so that it doesn't contaminate your purse/bag. Could also store some wet wipes if the public toilet paper feels like cardboard.
It could be the sound of the toilet flushing - I know several children who are afraid of public restrooms because the flush is so loud and violent! Daniel always puts his hands over his ears and backs away - sometimes I send him out and then flush (when I can still keep him is sight).
Alexandra outgrew her fear after a while...hers started right after we got home and used one of those autoflush toilets...it flushed while she was on it and she just about jumped out of her skin! I think between not expecting it to flush and the load sound scared her.I got some of those disposable toilet seat covers (Target, etc) that have various characters on them like Dora. That helped some. And I started to hunt out toilets that were manual flush and had her flush them for me or with me (depending on her mood).Now she can tell which are manual versus auto flush and has no issues using either. It just seemed to work itself out. But I do remember her not wanting to use the toilet and trembing when I flushed it.
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