I am not sure if you have ever had this problem, but we have just gone through the longest potty regression in our potty training! It has definitely been a very taxing and frustrating week, but I truly learned a lot! Some of which I will share with you today, to hopefully make your potty training and regression times easier.
My son is now two and a half years old and as of last month has been potty trained for a year! I thought for sure we were over the possible potty regression, but I was very wrong. For the new mammas here let me explain what I mean by potty regression. Potty regression is when your toddler has continual accidents throughout the day after he has been potty trained for a bit. This is not speaking of just one accident every once in a while.
After lots of research on the topic, here are some of the most common reasons I found that a potty trained child will all of a sudden regress.
- Change- any major change to your child's environment such as moving, new sibling, different class in childcare
- Diet change
- Constipation- read this amazing book for more details, It's No Accident by Steve Hodges
- Urinary Tract Infection- this can happen with absolutely no symptoms so beware
Those are the most common reasons why a toddler will regress, but there are just puzzling cases where there really is no answer. For those oddball cases, here is a list of ways that I found to handle potty regression. You may need to try several things just to figure out exactly what works for your little one.
Potty Charts and Prizes
In all honesty, I never used potty charts or prizes when I potty trained my son a year ago, but during this regression, this is the only solution that worked. Our regression was mostly because of the change going on his little life and prizes and stickers really helped him to get the courage to tell his different teachers when he needed to use the bathroom.
One lesson that I learned while potty training was to never reward a child for going potty, but reward him instead for staying dry for a certain period of time. When you reward them for going potty, you are putting the emphasis on the process and not the result you want. In the end, you may have a child that goes potty just to get a prize. I made that mistake in the beginning of my potty training adventure.
This time around with potty regression I set up a chart in the bathroom and bought some train stickers. Every morning that he stayed dry until nap time, he received a sticker to put on his chart. We did the same thing for the evening time. If he stayed dry all day, I bought him a mini Thomas the train.
Right now, my son is obsessed with trains so this prize worked really, really well. I suggest that you find a prize that your little one really loves. It is amazing how hard they will try to earn it. I then just make the time between the prizes farther apart. So instead of every two days they stayed dry, it is every three etc.
Big Boy Syndrome
This is a tip that I learned when I read this article from the blog What's Up Fagan's. My little one is not extremely overcome with the idea of being a big boy and frequently tells me his is too little to do something, so this method did not work for me, but it is definitely worth a try.
In the article, she asks her son where her big boy went. He, being very proud of being his mommy's big boy pointed to himself. She sadly told him that big boys use the potty and since he was not using the potty, he turned back into a little boy. This motivated him and he set out to prove that he was indeed her big boy. After two days of him staying dry, she told him that her big boy was back and he was super proud. You can read more details in the article here.
I know that as time flies, it is difficult to always remember to remind your little one to go to the bathroom, but this is definitely helpful when your child loses track of judging their bodily functions. Set a timer for every hour or so and make them stop and go to the bathroom. This will help take some of the stress off you of having to wash so many clothes.
Bring Back the Diapers
Most children are very proud of being big and wearing underwear, and if your child is one of these then this method might be perfect for you. Talk to your little one and explain that because they are having a difficult time remembering to go potty that you will have to put them back in a diaper until they can remember to use the potty like a big boy or girl.
Cleaning Up Themselves
I always make my son help with the process of cleaning up his messes, but this method would be making them do it all by themselves. If your child has been potty trained for some time and knows the ins and outs of the potty then this may work for them.
You first explain that they are a big boy or girl and that since they are big and can use the potty all by themselves, when they have an accident or chose not to use the potty, they are solely responsible for cleaning up the mess. You will no longer help them, but supervise if need be.
For this to work, they need to wear clothes that they can take on and off themselves and have access to getting fresh clothes themselves. When they have an accident, they are responsible to clean up the floor with towels, undress themselves, put the dirty clothes in the hamper or washer, and dress themselves again.
This is not meant to be shameful, just to teach them that when you are big enough to make a mess you are big enough to clean it up too. The cumbersome task of doing everything themselves will for most children be a lesson to use listen to their body and use the potty on time.
What Not to Do
Whatever method you try there are several things to keep in mind of things not to do. Here are some of them:
- Over-react, potty regression can be extremely trying and frustrating, but one thing you want to keep in check is your attitude. You want to remain calm and figure out exactly why you are dealing with regression. Then go about to solve the problem and get them back on track.
- Punish them, if your child is acting out by peeing everywhere then giving them the negative attention and punishing them will only make the situation worse. You can use the above method of giving them no attention at all and making them clean up the entire mess themselves, but you also need to figure out why they are acting out. Are you keeping their love tank full? Do you need to stop and set aside 15 extra minutes just to love them and spend some time playing together?
Potty Regression is definitely very trying and frustrating, but keep calm and carry on. :) It too shall pass. I promise that your 18 will be potty trained and never forget to go to the bathroom by himself. :) I have to remind myself often of this fact and remember that my child is only two. Still very young and with lots of time to learn and grow. It's really okay and accidents really are okay too.
Here is a brief recap of what to do when you are in a potty regression.
- Stay calm
- Figure out the problem behind your child's regression if possible
- Devise a method to help get them back on track
- Sit back and just enjoy breathe :)
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and that it was of some help to you. I would love to hear things that helped your child get through potty regression in the comments below. :)