So, your child has been potty trained, and all is going well until suddenly the child starts having more than the occasional accidents that might be expected of a newly potty trained child.
Do not panic, do not overreact
First do not panic. Potty regression is not uncommon, it is normal, and this can be fixed.
Even though you may be somewhat disappointed and frustrated try not to show it. Above all, do not scold or yell at the child. Doing so can cause potty anxiety in your child which can actually lead to more problems.
And do not threaten to punish the child for having accidents. Fear of punishment can not only make the problem worse but can prolong the recovery process.
Try to stay calm and stay positive when dealing with your child. Your calm and positive attitude will go a long way in helping your child overcome their potty regression. It will inspire in them confidence and a desire to do better next time.
Why the potty regression is happening?
What is causing your child to regress in their potty training? There are several possible reasons. Your job as a parent is to try to figure out why this is happening.
One common cause is that the child was potty trained too early. They were not really ready for it yet. How can you tell if this is the case?
If you notice that your child in addition to having frequent accident also does not seem to care that they have had the accident for show any desire to go to the potty, then they probably have not really been potty trained.
If this is the case, you may just want to wait until they show signs of being ready to be potty trained. Trying to potty train a child too quick or too early can backfire on you and actually prolong the process.
If on the other hand you notice that your child wants to go to the potty but for one reason or another just isn’t making it in time, then they probably are potty trained. At this point your task is to find some way to get them back on track.
Try to find out what it is that is preventing them from making it to the potty in time. Are they, for example, so engrossed in some activity, having so much fun doing something, that they do not want to take the time to make a run to the potty?
Sometimes all a child needs are a few simple reminders to go potty. Putting them back on a potty schedule again can help reestablish the habit of going potty. Make sure they go potty when they wake up in the morning, after every meal, and before going to bed at night, and at regular intervals between times.
Perhaps there is a medical reason. Simple constipation is a common reason for potty training regression in a child. It is not uncommon for a child to avoid going to the potty if bowel movements are difficult and they have to strain to go. The solution may be as simple as making sure the child drinks plenty of water and has a diet with plenty of fiber.
If the child is still resistant to going on the potty because of their constipation, try to make going potty fun again with games or puzzles or books.
Other possible causes of potty regression in a potty trained child are major changes or stressful situations in a child’s life. Are you traveling? Are you in the process of moving to a new home? Is the child going to a new school? Is there a new sibling in the family? Have you lost a family pet recently?
In other words, is something going on that might cause undue stress or anxiety in the child. These are common reasons for potty regression. If this is the case the child’s potty habits should return to normal once things settle down. In the meantime, until things settle down, try to reassure and encourage your child. Let your child know that they are not in trouble for having an accident.
Give potty rewards a try again
If you successfully used a reward system when you were potty training your child, you might consider trying that again. Simple incentives such as a sticker chart, a special treat or toy that they enjoy can help reestablish the potty habit. Simple rewards work best, and the best rewards are words of encouragement and praise.