Potty training regressions

by Bethany Lynch

I wrote earlier about the need for discipline during our potty training experience. When our son started deliberately having accidents, it was clear that we needed some form of correction. However, accidents are not always deliberate, and it is very common for children to go through potty training regressions. I wish I had known that earlier! Regressions make you question every step and every decision.

There are some important questions to ask if you find yourself in the middle of a potty training regression:

  • Is this behavioral? Are there deliberate signs of refusing to use the potty?
  • Have we ruled out all physical causes and reasons? Are there any signs of illness?
  • Is my child too young? Should we postpone training and resume again in a month?
  • Have there been any changes to routine? Any trips that could have disrupted consistency?
  • If discipline is necessary, what would sting the most? Loss of toy? Time out? No reward?
  • Am I being consistent?
  • Am I sending mixed signals by using pull-ups or diapers except for sleep?
  • Does my child have too much freedom?
  • Am I expecting first time obedience in other areas?

So how did we get out of the mess we were back in? (No pun intended!) We went back to square one…bare bottom with the emphasis of staying clean and dry as soon as he was back in underwear. Every 60 minutes, we put him on the potty whether he could tell us he had to pee or not. If he did not use the potty, we put him back on the potty 15 minutes later. Yes, there were times he was not pleased he had to sit on the potty, but it was done. It was done without emotion and it was done consistently.

I think one trap of potty training is expecting to be told by the child when they have to potty from the beginning. This took a long time to happen, and I think putting him on the potty consistently went a long way in helping him learn sensations and bladder control.

Another interesting tactic that we used was a reward and prize system. Another mom gave me the idea of working towards a prize. We had used that system successfully for a while. Each time he went to the potty without an associated accident before or after that trip, he got a cotton ball. After ten cotton balls, he got a small prize which was hidden in a gift box. During his potty training regression, we also agreed that the novelty of cotton balls had probably outlived their usefulness. On a whim, we decided to put pennies in the jar instead of cotton balls. Being able to put all of his pennies in his piggy bank and still work towards a prize was more than enough motivation to get us back on track!

____________________

Bethany is a wife and working mother of two young children. Married 8 years to her supportive husband, Lee, Bethany says that without Babywise her life would be impossibly chaotic. Babywise has helped her children, 2 ½ year-old Kai and 11 month-old Caitlin, become happy, healthy, well-rested and obedient. Despite her busy full-time job as a neonatal pharmacist at a fast-paced children’s hospital, Bethany loves to write about her family’s adventures on a family blog, and she has recently started a healthy-living blog called Babysteps to Organic Living.

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