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Potty training regression - when to start worrying.
Are you simply stuck in the middle of potty training? Don't worry; you are not alone!
Almost every parent who potty trains a child goes through at least one period of regression.
I know I have. I have toilet trained four children, both boys and girls, and we worked and hugged our way through many potty training regressions.
What is a potty training regression?
Simply put, regression during potty training is going backwards (or at least feeling like it) instead of moving forward. Perhaps your child has been potty trained during the day for a while now and everything seems as though it's going quite well.
Then, out of the blue it seems, she regresses. She starts peeing in her undies during the day. At first it's only occasionally, but as the days pass, she's doing this behavior more often.
One day the thought passes through your mind, "I'm going to have to put her back in diapers."
You are stunned. You thought you were done with this phase of babyhood. What's wrong with her? What's wrong with your methods?
If this is how you are feeling, stop. The first thing you need is perspective.
Potty training regression and turning it around.
The first thing you want to do as a parent in the middle of a full-blown potty training regression is calm down. No yelling or nagging; these will only make matters worse, believe me.
Secondly, take a step back and look at your family situation. Are there any obvious stressors your child is keying in on that may be causing this behavior? Sometimes there's an obvious problem that can be resolved and the potty trainee goes right back on course all by himself.
If you can't find anything out of the normal, then start by chatting with your child. Make it a general conversation at the age appropriate level. How is he doing? What are his favorite toys right now? Remind him of your tremendous love for him and how proud you are of him.
When you're ready, ask about the potty business. Maybe not directly, though. Perhaps with a statement such as "I noticed that your stuffed bear has potty trained himself. That's so cool. Did you teach him how to use the potty? Is he having any problems? Could you show me how you taught him?"
You get the idea. See if you can engage in conversation about potty training, peeing and pooping on his level.
Another thing to consider when it comes to a regression in potty training is that for many children such a seemingly backward movement is simply the normal ebb and flow of them growing up.
As parents, we spend a lot of time encouraging our children to "grow up" and rightly so. But sometimes we forget that growing is a process filled with both exciting and scary moments.
There are plenty of times when our toddler wants to rule the world. There are also plenty of times when our brave toddler would rather go in a corner with his blankie and suck his thumb. In other words, he needs a break from the demands of maturing. These times are normal and during such times is often when a potty training regression rears its head.
Of course, even adults feel that way from time to time and when you see it that way, you understand immediately that what your child needs is a time of extra cuddling and reassurance. When he feels confident once more, he'll be ready for big boy pants again.
Potty training regressions and mistakes to avoid.
Here are some things you'll want to avoid during a toilet training regression.
-- Going in circles.
One of the most frustrating things about potty training regression is that as parents we simply don't know what to do next.
Once I discovered how wonderful it is to have a Plan B, then a Plan C, etc., I kept my cool and my child responded in kind.
I'm going to give you some simple potty training tips to try, but if you would feel comfortable with a more detailed game plan, then I suggest you check out a complete potty training guide. Following the steps in a comprehensive guide means you can do a "potty restart" as much as you need and keep calm at the same time.
-- Back to diapers.
It's tempting, to be sure, to put diapers back on a toddler or preschooler that has already demonstrated her ability to stay clean and dry and then regresses back into peeing or pooping in her underwear.
You may even be tempted to use diapers as a punishment, to shame your child into cooperating. I have to admit, I tried that one myself. I can tell you it never worked.
A good rule of thumb in potty training is once out of diapers, we never go back. We may have accidents; and we learn how to take care of ourselves by cleaning up our mistakes with Mom or Dad's help, but we now see ourselves as growing up and we stay in toddler training pants or other big boy - big girl underwear in order to help us make that transition.
Yes, this is messy and inconvenient. It won't be the last time you'll say that about parenting. Right now is when you can solidify your relationship with your child so that he gets the idea that
HUGE POTTY TRAINING REGRESSION HINT -- No, Huge PARENTING Tip:
- Mom or Dad mean what they say,
- they care about him deeply enough to help him with his problems,
- they are paying constant attention to him even if he doesn't realize it and they can be counted on.
Trust me. These are the same ideas you'll want your school age and teenage child believing about you. It's MUCH EASIER to build these parenting concepts now, when your child is still young. That's what this age is for and it's your job as Mom or Dad.
-- Coddling vs. cuddling.
It's easy to confuse these two concepts. Sometimes they look alike. In reality, they are very different.
Your potty training toddler needs to cuddle with you. To know that you love him, enjoy him and are there for him.
He DOES NOT need you bailing him out of trouble - even a potty training regression. That's coddling.
Do you see the difference?
By treating potty training regressions as normal - because they are - and matter-of-fact, you teach your child that life has its ups and downs and he is expected to deal with his.
So gently and firmly remind him how to use the potty chair. Make sure he gets the idea that he is expected to take care of himself now and you will help him. Be sure he has the potty training aids he needs to take care of himself.
(By the way, it's easy to use a free potty training chart to help your child remember what steps he needs to do each and every time he uses the potty.)
- Clothes that are easy on and off.
- A sturdy, easy to clean potty chair.
- Wipes and clean clothes.
- A safe step up so he can wash his hands when he's done.
-- Power struggles.
Most children cannot resist the intense feeling that accompanies a power struggle. At that point, they will stop cooperating and you will find yourself stuck in your potty training regression.
So avoid power struggles.
Obviously, this is easier said than done, but often just by being aware of the potential for toilet training power struggles you can steer clear of many of them.
And if you do find yourself recognizing that you cannot MAKE your two or three year old go poop in the potty chair and you realize that your child knows that fact as well, then back off. You need a different tactic.
Try clever instead. Remember, any child will potty train quickly (assuming they are physically and emotionally ready to do so) when THEY decide to do so.
So, Mom or Dad, the game is on. How can you convince them that they WANT to be toilet trained?
Start by staying calm and keeping them responsible for themselves as much as possible. A good idea is to talk about them (or perhaps their favorite stuffed animal) to another adult within your child's earshot.
Talk about how pleased you are with your child's efforts and that as soon as your child is completely potty trained you'll be doing more of _____ (something your child loves to do).
No begging or pleading. Just a statement of the facts. And be prepared to walk away if you have a little talker!
So remember - potty training regression happens.
And now you know what to do about it. Be matter-of-fact and calm. Keep a consistent potty schedule. Lots of hugs help. Avoid power struggles.
And relax. Your child will be potty trained before you know it.
Popular potty training topics.
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Colleen Langenfeld is a mother with over 29 years of parenting experience and helps other busy moms around the globe at www.paintedgold.com.
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