Once some toddlers learn how to use the potty, they’re set and never look back. But for most, accidents happen a lot! Young toddlers normally learn in stalls and spurts. Sometimes, your once potty-trained toddler will regress or lose the skills they’ve recently learned, including using the potty. It’s natural to feel stressed, frustrated, and upset when your potty-trained kiddo has an accident and maybe has to go back to wearing diapers. But this isn’t something to worry much about.
In many cases, regression is a healthy emotional response to feelings your toddler cannot express yet. So, the best way to handle a potty-training setback is to stay positive and take steps that will help your baby get back on track. Here’s more on potty training regression, including what causes it and how you can handle it.
What Is Potty Training Regression
If you’re done teaching your toddler how to use the potty but later on notice that she’s having accidents and doesn’t want to use it, that’s a regression. According to Very Well Family, other than accidents, you’ll also notice that your child is resisting sitting on the potty, or she may ask to wear her diapers again. However, regression differs from accidents in that the latter happens as your baby is learning to use the restroom because it is a learning process, after all.
Regression involves both accidents, potty resistance, and the desire to wear diapers. However, the good news is that your toddler should pick up where he left off in no time (a few days or weeks.)
What Causes Potty Training Regression?
It’s important to understand why because it makes it easier to solve the problem. Here’s everything that causes potty-training regression:
- Stress – According to healthline, It’s common for accidents to occur when a baby is stressed, and it can be minimal and temporary, like when your baby is tired or distracted by something. Also, something new or different may cause extreme stress for your toddlers, such as a new sibling or school, moving to a new place, a different caregiver, social family changes, or a new parent routine.
- Your toddler isn’t there yet– If the timing is wrong, even the most effective toilet training hacks won’t prevent hitches. Most toddlers are ready to use the potty between 20 and 30 months, but some kids can show these signs of reading earlier or later.
- Parental pressure– If you push a toddler who’s not interested or ready to use the potty yet, it’s likely to backfire, causing a regression. So, it would help if you were patient, encouraging, supportive, and reassuring during this process. Most importantly, let your toddler set the pace.
- Constipation– According to Romper, constipation may harden stools, making it difficult to pass and can be painful and uncomfortable. This can cause hesitation to use the potty, causing regression. And this doesn’t only affect their ability to pass poop, but it may also cause hesitation while peeing.
- Urological issues – some urological issues, such as urinary tract infections, may cause regressions. So, make sure to check with your child’s pediatrician if you’re worried.
- Distraction– If your toddler is engrossed in something else or busy playing, she may not notice the urge to go until it’s too late, or she may avoid using the potty simply because she’s enjoying whatever she’s doing and doesn’t want to stop
- Excitement – For toddlers new to the potty, simply getting excited can cause an accident because they may ignore the feeling or forget to go, causing an accident.
- Your toddler being unable to communicateespecially if she’s afraid or anxious while using the toilet or feels any physical discomfort, may cause her to avoid the potty.
Should You Let Your Toddler Wear Her Diapers?
Putting your baby back in diapers is a personal decision. However, note that this sends the message that toilet independence isn’t compulsory. So, letting your toddler wear diapers means you’ll have to go back to square one, and it may be more complicated and confusing. Instead of using diapers, you can opt for washable training pants. They’re easily pulled up and down, letting your toddler use the potty whenever she wants to. They also feel like underwear when worn and offer some protection in case your toddler has an accident.
How To Deal With Potty Training Regression
Thankfully, this phase is short-lived, and your toddler will be back to using the potty in no time. Here’s how you can deal with potty training regression:
- Remain calm – Even though you’re frustrated at this new behaviour, stressing about it will only make things worse. Also, rest assured that this is normal and happens for reasons that can be fixed.
- Don’t punish your toddler- Parents Cautions against showing disappointment, as it makes your toddler more anxious, causing even more potty problems. Clap and cheer for your child when she remains dry but only make nonjudgmental remarks when she has an accident. For example, you can say, “Oops, you had a small accident. Let’s go sit on your potty.” Maintain a good mood and don’t yell at or scold your toddler.
- Understand that children aren’t the same – Just because your older child used the potty earlier doesn’t mean that her sibling should learn to use the potty at the same time too. Kids develop at different rates, and some may take more time. So, make sure that your child is ready for potty training.
- Go back to the basics – Show your baby when and how to use the potty. Suggest several bathroom breaks at critical times, such as before bedtime, after meals, and before leaving the house, but don’t nag your toddler. You can also reactivate a reward system, such as using stickers to encourage potty use.
- Troubleshoot– Ask your child about probable triggers that may cause regression. For example, she is stressed, exhausted, anxious, maybe because she has a new sibling or has to move to a new place? If you understand why your toddler is regressing, you can try and help her communicate how she’s feeling about what’s bothering her and offer reassurance to help boost confidence. For example, “It’s normal to feel worried about a new baby in the house. But those feelings will eventually go away.”
- Improve potty training chances of success by placing it strategically and dressing your child in easy-to-remove clothing, making it easier for her to use the potty.
- See a doctor in cases of medical issues such as UTIs or severe constipation.
Sources: Very Well Family, Parents, Romper, Healthline
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