First, let me say this loud and clear: Potty training SUCKS!!
If you ever raise a child, it is a necessary evil. At some point, you want your little tot to be diaper-free, but it comes at a price, and that price is usually your carpet/bed/couch/personal hygiene.
The idea of potty training at 18 months came, and then quickly left. I always heard of children who potty train perfectly and easily at 18 months, but my daughter was clearly not going to be one of them. We tried again at 2 years old, and after a long, frustrating week, I gave up and put her back in a diaper. Finally, a couple months later, we spent the weekend going to the potty every 20 minutes and she finally understood!! It was like some switch in her head flipped, and she knew what this potty business was all about.
I was so proud of her, and couldn’t believe how quickly she caught on, once she was ready. From that weekend in October until Christmas break, she only had a handful of accidents. She would tell us when she wanted to go potty, and it was seamless.
Until Christmas break came along. We had 11 glorious days off from work/daycare, and in that time, she completely un-potty trained! Man, if you think you get irritated by accidents in the beginning of potty training, imagine how frustrated you would be 3 months AFTER they are already potty trained. I don’t know what happened… but the switch in her head went off, and she completely, 100% stopped using the potty.
I did a lot of research on potty training regression, and it is actually not uncommon.
Here are a few common reasons that it occurs:
- A mother’s pregnancy or new baby
- Medical Conditions
- A new daycare, sitter, or change in daily routine
- Marital conflict or divorce of parents
- Moving to a new home
Clearly, being home with mom and dad all day for almost two weeks was a change in her routine, resulting in potty training regression.
These are the tips/tricks I found during my research. These are great tips for a tot who is brand new to potty training, or one who has forgotten that they are potty trained.
Tips for Potty Training:
- Find out what caused their regression: If it is a new birth or pregnancy, or a change in your tots schedule, identifying the problem is the first step in addressing it.
- Frequent Potty Breaks: Just like when they’re potty training for the first time, ask them every 20 minutes if they need to go potty. Once they get the hang of it, you can lengthen out that time to every 30 minutes, then an hour, then two hours, depending on your child.
- Don’t overreact to accidents: Yelling, punishing, or being too severe in your reaction to their accident will make them fearful, which can result in them going in places you won’t find. It can also result in negative reinforcement, which will make the progress worse. Keep a level head, tell them sternly, “no”, take them to the potty and remind them that is where to go. Then enlist their help in cleaning up the mess.
- Don’t Force them on the Potty: If they’re screaming and fighting when you put them on the potty, take a break! You don’t want to force them and create negative associations with the potty. Instead, make it enjoyable with books! If you have a smart phone or tablet, take advantage of different apps to keep them entertained on the potty.
- Positive Reinforcement: As with all things, positive reinforcement goes much farther than negative reinforcement. When they use the potty, dance! Jump up and down! Delight enthusiastically in their success! High-fives and LOTS of praises will go a long way. You can even make a chart to put stickers on when they are successful. I was using M&Ms as a treat for successful pottying, which works… BUT, there are two things wrong with that. First, she caught on pretty quick and started making me take her to the potty when she didn’t need to go, in order to earn candy. Secondly, this teaches her that candy is a reward, which could cause some unhealthy food issues later on in life.
- Be Consistent: Maybe the most important part of potty training, is being consistent. Don’t put them in diapers, unless absolutely necessary (long trips or for over night if they can’t stay dry through the night). It is tempting to slack off and stick them in diapers, especially on the weekends or when things get hectic, but this will only prolong your potty training efforts, and ultimately cost you a lot more time.
- Have an Abundance of Patience: Yes, it is aggravating, trying, frustrating, and infuriating, but keep your cool and try to remember that toddlers are still learning. Expect accidents, but hope for success.
A month later, my daughter is finally potty trained, again. Hallelujah!
Here is a free printable Potty Chart to track and reward your tot!
Click here for a convenient PDF file!