Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to potty train: Regression

 I know more about toilet training regression than I like to admit.  If you are in the middle of it, I am really sorry.   Here are some things that have worked for me and my kids. Nothing works every time, but eventually something will work whether it is one of these ideas or another.

Talking to a doctor

I knew there had to be a physical problem when my child was sitting on the toilet, and obviously holding it.  The child now loves the doctor, because, "The doctor helps me get better."  There is never a wrong time to talk to a trusted doctor.  Toilet training regression can have multiple physical causes.  Some of those causes require prescription medicine, so talking to the doctor is necessary.  AskDrSears is a medical web-site that I have used, but nothing substitutes for a discussion with a live doctor.  

Identifying an emotional cause

A new sibling, a sibling going to the hospital, and several moves have caused regressions in our household.  In this case, I just tried to do the best I could to reassure my child. Usually, as the change was adjusted to, the regression naturally reversed, but not always.  

Charge ahead, or take a break?  A middle ground

 Some people say that if you let them go back to diapers and start again, they will train faster the second time.  It did not work that way for us.  However, there are times when neither I nor the child can handle charging ahead.

A strategy which I found helpful was to partially revert to cloth diapers.  If the child has success, they get to choose between diapers and underwear.  If they have an accident, they wear diapers.  

I think this works well for a list of reasons.  First, disposable diapers keep the child dry, so they might have a hard time knowing when they have gone.  Cloth diapers let them feel what just happened.  Also, cloth diapers are less comfortable than underwear, so both my kids were pretty motivated to wear underwear.  

 My child  sometimes chose diapers, and I realized that for a perfectionist temperament, the stress of needing to use the toilet was counter productive. Without the stress of a mess on carpet in a rented home, my responses to accidents were more appropriate.   Sometimes the diaper wearing child would make it to the toilet and "earn" under wear.  This strategy let the child feel in control.  I think that was helpful in getting past some of the emotional struggle of regression. For us, it was the right amount of motivation, without the undue stress.

When our move caused a total regression, and I had left cloth diapers behind, I went to Green Mountain and bought six Indian pre-folds, a snappy, and two plastic covers.  That is what you will need if you are starting just when you hope to finish.  If you've never done cloth, ask for the information sheet, it's an excellent resource.

What other tactics would you add to a mom's bag of tricks for over coming toilet training regression? 

                       When Should You Start Potty Training?

Linked to: 

Raising Imperfection


  1. I'm so glad you wrote about this. I think potty training regression happens a lot, but is rarely talked about.

    The only thing I have done that I don't see mentioned here is build in scheduled bathroom breaks - this is especially useful if you have a child who is resisting using the bathroom when they need to.

    1. Maryanne, That is a good point. Scheduled bathroom breaks can really help. Thanks.

  2. Interesting. My toddler has only been potty trained for a few weeks but there are days she does go 'backwards' and for whatever reason. For the past week she hasn't done a number two in the toilet and I feel she is resisting too. I might have to do more scheduled breaks and go to cloth nappies if she doesn't improve.


    1. Emotionally, it's about relaxing, but there may be more pieces to your puzzle. Number two tends to happen right after meals, so that helps. Good luck!

  3. These are some great tips! I was really lucky with Reagan. She potty trained about a month after her second birthday but she did have some slip ups every now and again while she was figuring it out.

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

  4. These are great tips, I am going to keep them in mind as we head into potty training.

    Thank you for linking up to Raising Imperfection! We appreciate you taking the time to link up. We feature links from the party on Fridays.

  5. I think this is an excellent thing to share with parents!

    I'm visiting today from the Raising Imperfection blog hop.

    1. Thanks ladies! I enjoyed reading through everyone's posts on Raising Imperfection as well. It's fun to see what different parents are up to.

  6. I like the cloth idea! I have a kiddo with developmental delay and she still wears diapers at 14 years old even though I know she could be potty trained but she refuses. I have given up and deal with the diapers and probably will for the rest of her life.

    Found you from Raising Imperfection.
    xoxo tiffani

    1. Tiffani, I have great respect for the special work parents like you do. I'll be checking out what you have to say:).

  7. Oh... Good points. I think my daughter is ready to start potty training, but we are about to move, and I heard that a transition like that would possibly send us backward.

    I love the cloth diapering thing since I have an older child who still wets the bed at night. I do have some cloth diapers. I wonder if those will work!

    Stopping by from the Raising Imperfection.

    1. April, yes moving can be a problem. My daughter was finishing up when my husband got a fantastic job offer Twelve Time Zones away. That was the beginning of much learning about regression for me. However, when we moved via a sixteen hour drive later on, we were able to push through without really losing ground. It all just depends on what your variables are going to be. You might find me post on when to start potty training helpful.


      There isn't one right answer, but I'm sure you'll make a good choice!