Your little one started using the potty regularly a couple of months ago, and it seemed like the transition went smoothly. Now, you’re noticing that he’s using the potty less and relying on his training underwear more. What’s going on?
If your toddler is going backward in the potty-training department, he could be going through potty training regression. We promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, it’s quite normal for toddlers to go through – even months after you think they have pottying down – but that doesn’t make it any less confusing or stressful for parents and caregivers.
Reasons for Potty Training Regression
Regression in potty training refers to some type of setback that causes your toddler not to use the potty as much as he was. In some cases, he may stop using the potty altogether after he used it regularly for months. There are some common reasons for this to happen, including:
- A significant life change, like a new sibling or switching to a different babysitter
- A change in his usual routine, like his daycare schedule
- Changes to his diet
- Underlying health issues that are causing constipation or otherwise making bowel movements uncomfortable
- Distractions that are causing him to hold his bladder or bowels too long
- He wasn’t quite ready to handle potty training yet
How to Handle Potty Training Regression
Seeing your toddler regress in such an essential skill as potty training can be alarming, but there are a few steps you can take to get him back on track.
Make sure he’s ready.
Potty training is a huge milestone for toddlers, but all toddlers develop at their own pace. Yours may not have been quite ready for the task when you started, which could be causing him to push back now.
Take a look at our potty-training guide to see what factors influence your toddler’s ability and desire to use the potty.
Get to the root of the problem (and be patient).
Figuring out and addressing the problem that’s causing potty training regression is an essential first step. Think about anything significant that’s happened in your toddler’s life recently that could be causing the change. Did he switch daycares? Are you and your partner having relationship problems? Anything that could affect him emotionally can also affect his desire to stick with pottying.
If no life changes have occurred, focus on his health. Have you changed his diet (more veggies or protein, switched to vegan, etc.)? Has he started any new medical treatments or medications? His diet and medications can affect his bowels, making it difficult to have a movement and causing him to avoid trying altogether.
No matter the cause of his regression, try your best to stay calm and patient. Stress, anxiety, and health issues are beyond your toddler’s control. Be there to talk to and comfort him during a challenging time first and work on potty training second.
Remain consistent with potty training.
Keeping up with your potty-training routine is a key piece in getting your toddler to refocus on the task at hand. He might be willing to give it up when things get tough, but your consistency can keep him motivated. In many cases, a potty routine and gentle reminders to go can help get him into a habit of using the potty when needed.
Positive reinforcement goes a long way, so be sure to praise even the smallest milestones, like sitting on the potty. Accidents are bound to happen; if they do, clean it up without blame or punishment and keep trying.
Talk to his pediatrician.
If your persistence doesn’t seem to be making a dent in potty-training and your toddler continues to refuse to try, you might need to talk to his pediatrician. Doctors know what questions to ask to help you figure out what might be causing your toddler’s regression and can give some tips for solving the problem. He or she might even recommend delaying the process until your toddler shows more signs of readiness.
Potty-training is a process that involved consistency, patience, and praise. Your toddler might be struggling now, but rest assured that, when he’s ready and any underlying issues are addressed, he’ll succeed. Good luck on your potty-training journey!