My 3 year old toddler twins have been potty trained for nearly a year. Suddenly potty training regression has struck and it’s driving me insane. What is the best way to deal with toddler potty training regression?
As ever, we are in a rush, struggling to get everyone out of the house. I put my daughter on the toilet and encourage her to do a “squeeze”. “No!” she says. I use my “sing-song, Mary Poppins encouraging” voice.
Not even a solitary drop.
I give up.
She wanders off.
Approximately 3 seconds later, she’s back to tell me she’s had an accident in her pants. A little smile flickers across her face.
“Me done wee wee in my pants.”
You know what I feel?
Frustration. Anger. Irritation. Annoyance.
Big emotions all rolled into one.
In fact, I want to open my lungs and howl.
I wouldn’t find it so difficult to deal with if it were a one off event. But it feels like it’s every day right now.
More than every day.
We hardly have time to get in the door and she’s done an accident. Or she sits there laughing about having a bit of poo in her pants.
I wouldn’t find it so difficult to deal with if she didn’t think it was a joke. If she tried to go to the toilet, instead of just peeing in her trousers.
Every single day.
Despite my best efforts.
You’ve guess it, we’ve hit potty training regression and it’s driving me and my husband nuts.
My daughter has been potty trained for nearly a year now. I remember Day 1 like yesterday. It’s not that she doesn’t understand. She does. She just doesn’t see the big deal.
How can I help her to understand? How can I help my toddler deal with potty training regression? How can I help my daughter learn to use the toilet again?
Tips to Deal With Potty Training Regression
Even though it is incredibly frustrating it’s important to remember that your child isn’t being naughty. They are just being a child. Getting cross and upset will only make the issue worse. It will turn it into a “thing”.
Regular Trips to the Toilet.
With 4 young children it is easy to overlook putting a child on the toilet. Build it into your routine. Get up, go to the toilet. Leaving the house, go to the toilet. Before lunch, go to the toilet.
It is annoying when they don’t try but keep persisting with the opportunities.
Nappies off Quickly.
If your child wears a nappy during the night, or for a nap, take it off as soon as they get up. My twins like to keep their nappies on (I have no idea why) but I make sure I take them off.
Sit on the pot as soon as they get up.
Give them a positive emotional reward for having dry pants or for going on the toilet. We like a big cheer, a “hooray” and a hug. Or when we want to pull out all the stops a tick on a reward chart. (Remember not to use food as reward, it can lead to emotional eating later on in life.)
Inflicting negative attention on children is still giving them attention. It’s much better to give them positive attention when they do something well rather than negative attention when they do something badly. We want to teach them, not punish them.
Talk to your Toddler.
You want them to be on the same side as you. You want them to TRY to have dry pants. Things that are clear to us, aren’t so evident to our children. I explained to my daughter that if she kept having accidents, she would have to go back to wearing nappies. It didn’t stop the accidents immediately, but it did make her realise that it wasn’t a joke and she started trying to keep her pants dry.
Remind them Frequently.
To us it seems obvious that we want to try to keep our clothes dry but toddlers have important things to do such as playing with bricks, rearranging your pots and pans and messing up the clean laundry. They get distracted and forget.
Dry pants are not high on their “to do list”.
Remind them frequently, when they get up, at lunch time, when they go to bed.
We’re going to have dry pants today aren’t we sweetheart? You’re going to make sure you do all your wees and poos on the toilet!
Secondary Causes of Potty Training Regression.
Most potty training regression is just a matter of children forgetting about the importance of going to the toilet. For most of their life they haven’t had to think about it and they just slip back into the old ways.
Occasionally, there can be another, more medical reason. Common reasons include urinary tract infections (they are likely to do small amounts of wee frequently) or being constipated. If you’re worried that your child is trying hard to go to the toilet and just not managing it when previously they were, go and chat to your doctor.
Here's when you should worry about potty training regression.
Remember, the key to most toddler problems is patience. Find your system, stay calm and be patient.
Surviving Potty Training Regression
My daughter sits on the toilet. She doesn’t want to do a squeeze. I remind her about having dry trousers and wait patiently.
Suddenly it happens.
A big smile on her face. “My did it!” She says.
I clap and cheer and give her a kiss.
Potty training regression is frustrating, but we are working on it together.