You thought the difficult task of toilet training was over. Then your child begins to make mistakes and appears to be regressing. Is this simply a fad? Is it a reversal of toilet training? Here’s all you need to know about recognizing toilet training relapse, its causes, and how to overcome it.
Most parents look forward to certain milestones, such as their children’s first birthday, first steps, first words, and…potty training.
Isn’t it wonderful to be free of diapers and take that first step toward independence? As a mom of 3 young kids, I’ve done this 2 times and on my way to potty training #3! If you need some trips read this: Potty Training Made Easy From A Mom Of 3.
But sometimes when we successfully finish potty training, along comes a very normal, not worrisome child’s potty training regression, which is where you will need to pay extra careful attention to how you handle these situations.
Potty accidents get messy, and tiresome too which is why you should definitely check out these hilarious potty training quotes to get you out of a funk.
I’ll go over some common cause of regressions according to experts and some potty training basics to help you get back on track with the best potty practices with your regressing child.
Possible Causes Of Potty Training Regression
What causes this to happen? Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of regression. Once you’ve figured out what’s causing the problem, you may address it and resume your toilet training progress.
They Were Trained too Early
The most prevalent cause of potty regression, according to Dr. Nick DeBlasio, medical director of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Pediatric Primary Care Center, is a kid who was trained too early.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, being emotionally ready for toilet training is just as important as being physically ready. “The emotional need toward independence and self-mastery” is required in addition to the linguistic and physical abilities required to use the restroom.
Some children might become so absorbed in their play or other activities that they don’t know they need to go until it’s too late. My own child’s regression was caused by this.
The emotional stress in your children’s life is another typical reason for potty training relapse. There might be some type of disturbance and it’s good to get to the root of the problem, such as:
- Relocating to a new residence
- A new baby or new sibling has arrived.
- Divorce of parents
- A family member has passed away.
- Big changes have happened
- A new preschool is being established.
They Have Anxiety
Some children are simply terrified of using the toilet which could be a reason for your toddler potty training regression. They are terrified by the loud flushing noise. They believe there is a monster in the toilet or are afraid of falling in. All sorts of fears can pop up and cause potty problems.
See also: 18 Best Potty Training Books
Perhaps There Are Medical Concerns
Before focusing on any other probable causes, make sure your child isn’t suffering from any physical health concerns or another medical issue that might be causing the setback in toilet training.
Painful bowel movements and constipation, urinary tract infections, intestinal bugs, among other things, are potential health issues that might have an impact.
To rule out these medical problems that might be causing potty training accidents, see your child’s pediatrician.
How To Work Through A Potty Training Regression
For all the parents who are going through this right now, there is some good news: regression periods are generally short-lived. Yes, it’s aggravating, but here are some suggestions for getting through this regressive behavior.
Talk To Your Child
Remember that they’re young and likely don’t have the language to adequately convey their emotions. If you can sit down with your child and speak about what’s troubling them, you might be able to get enough information to find out what’s wrong.
Whether the accidents persist, ask her if she’d prefer to wear training pants for a bit, but don’t push them on her if she thinks they’re too babyish. If your child’s relapse lasts longer than a month, you should consider whether she was ready to be fully day-trained in the first place. If it’s evident that putting the potty away for a bit would be a huge relief for your child, there’s no harm in offering it.
However, there is an exception to the general rule that progress, however slow, is typically preferable. As distressing as regression might be for parents, it typically only lasts a short time.
Accept and Validate Their Feelings
Take the time to show your child that you listened to what they had to say after they had spoken what they could. If a sibling was recently added to the family, for example, your child is likely to feel left out and that they aren’t getting the attention they used to.
When the baby is asleep, try to avoid talking about being a sibling and instead spend time with them, reading with them, playing with them, and so on.
The greatest thing you can do at this point of the learning process is to be calm and patient and use positive reinforcement. Avoid penalizing your child for making mistakes since this will just increase their worry and possibly lead to a power struggle.
Instead, try not to make a big deal out of the occasional accidents while making a huge deal (in a good manner!) out of successfully using the potty.
When an accident occurs, simply say, “Uh oh, let’s go on the potty,” and then leave it at that.
Return to Providing Reminders
In some ways, it seems like you’re going back to the beginning of toilet training. However, there is some good news! Even if you’re going backward, it’s just for a short time, and you’ll be able to make significant forward progress in no time.
Make sure your child is reminded to use the restroom on a regular basis. Simply include it into your regular regimen.
Giving a reminder every couple of hours seems to work well for my kid while he was going through this. I just set a timer on my phone to remind me to do it, even if I was elsewhere occupied.
Don’t forget to enlist the help of everyone in your children’s life. It will speed up the process for everyone involved—teachers, grandmothers etc.
You may also review your potty training books with your child.
Praise And Rewards
External rewards are effective motivators for achieving a goal, and this is true for potty training relapse as well. Consider putting in a reward system or a sticker chart / reward chart. That’s what we did with my kid, and it really helped him stay motivated to “get back on track.”
You’ve Got This
Many toilet training regressions are resolved in a matter of weeks, but it might take up to a month in certain cases.
If it lasts longer than that and the wet clothes are making you angry and you’re giving negative attention to your child and and you haven’t visited a doctor, you should consult your children’s pediatrician to make sure there isn’t an underlying health concern.
Keep going and staying the course…You’ll be on your way to the other side of this true regression shortly!