Potty Training Regression

You were probably pretty eager to get your little one potty trained. You went out and bought “pull-up” type training pants, a potty chair and it seemed to be going great! Then all of a sudden as soon as you think you are done with diapers, your child starts having accidents. No matter how long you have been trying to get your child potty trained and go to the bathroom by himself, you may notice that once in a while accidents do happen. This can be a frustrating issue and there is not a whole lot you can do. One important thing is to talk to your child and make sure they know how important it is to use the potty when they have to go. Here are some tips to help you reinforce potty training and say goodbye to diapers for good.

What Causes Potty Training Regression?

When we are all grown up, we learn something and keep on doing it like pros. Children cannot quite retain new things as well as we can. The way they learn is according to the skills they have learned in other areas of development and sometimes they learn quickly and sometimes they can take a step back. This means they learn something and often stop performing a new skill for a little while. This is known as regression.

Kids can regress after being potty trained and wet their pants or even beg you to put a diaper on them. This makes you feel like all your hard work was in vain after making so much progress. You might have even taken your child to the doctor to see if something is wrong. While there can be physical reasons for accidents such as urinary tract infection or urinary issue, this is most often just a normal occurrence. Sometimes, emotional stresses can cause a child to regress. Here are some other causes of potty training regression:

  • A new pregnancy or baby in the family
  • Death in the family
  • Someone is seriously ill in the family
  • Moving
  • Divorce or problems in your marriage
  • Starting a new preschool

How to Deal with Potty Training Regression

1. Do Not Overreact

The first thing you may be inclined to do if your child has potty training regression accidents is show them you are upset. This will only cause anxiety and make things worse. It is important to stay upbeat even if you are frustrated with your child. Positive reinforcement will help things along more than negative discipline. If your child stays dry, praise them. If they wet themselves, calmly remove the wet pants and sit them on the toilet. Scolding your child or yelling will only cause further setbacks.

2. Find Out the Underlying Cause

They may talk your ear off all day long, but they often have trouble telling you when something is upsetting them. When they feel unhappy about something for the first time in your lives, the emotions can be very strong. Sit down and talk with your child and that you understand they aren’t using the potty like they used to or that she wants a diaper on. Go ahead and ask if she can tell you what is bothering her. It is important to listen to her feelings and help her find some coping skills.

3. Tell Your Child You Understand Their Feelings

If you show your child understanding that they are having a difficult time, they will feel better about trying harder. It is important to make your child feel like they are not alone and that other kids have accidents too. Help your child to feel like a normal child by letting them know that you have had problems with things in your life too, just stay on their level. If you help them feel like what they are going through is normal and that being scared of using the potty will go away, then you will be helping build their self-confidence.

4. State Clearly Your Expectations

Let your child know that you need her to keep using the potty and try hard to not have any accidents. You have to tell your child that you believe in her and that she can do this. Reinforce with positive praise, stickers on a chart next to the toilet and other rewards. Give a little pep talk every day if the accidents continue. Remember, this is your child’s struggle and be there to support and encourage. You can always go back to “pull-ups” if your child seems too resistant, but let her know that it is only for a short time and that she needs to really try to use the potty.

5. Work with You Child and Others to Come Up with a Solution

Your child may just need a little one-on-one time with you. See what it is that you can do for your child to help him or her do better at using the potty. Also, make a visit to your child’s preschool or daycare and work out a plan with the providers to help maintain consistency for your child. Sometimes a difference in routine can slow things down. Ask your child what he or she needs at the daycare to make going potty easier. Allowing your child to be a partner in potty training helps empower them and will resolve problems quicker.

6. Talk to Your Kid to Rule Out Bothering Issues

Ask your child why she might be having trouble at daycare and not at home. Ask her if there is anything different about that potty, rather than the one at home. Let your child know that even if she is having fun playing, that it is important to go potty when she first feels the urge to pee, rather than waiting until it is too late. Most of the time, children just don’t want to stop what they are doing and take the time to use the bathroom. Let her know that what she was doing will still be there when she is done.

7. Set a Rule

When your child is resistant to using the toilet at pre-determined times, then if she stays dry for a week then there you will allow her to tell you when she needs to go. Until then, she will need to use the potty when you tell her to. Try not to make it a battle, but be firm. Having a rule is one very important step when dealing with potty training regression.

8. Use Proper Reward

When your child is learning to use the toilet, rewards can help immensely with progress. If your child regresses, start a reward system like a sticker chart, prizes or a candy they like. Not all children benefit from a reward, but it is usually very effective for most kids. Give a time frame for offering rewards and stick to it. Set up a “reward day” like on Sundays if she is dry for one whole week.

An experience mom shares her experience on dealing with and preventing potty training regression:

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