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Ways to Deal with Potty Training Regression

Giving a child toilet training, requires the same amount of patience, understanding, and hard work on the mother’s part, as she perhaps undertook while teaching the child how to walk, talk, or eat. There cannot be a single effective technique which a mother can follow to successfully potty train a child, as no two children are the same. So, parents have to come with their own methods to potty train their child. It may also sometimes happen that when a child is fully toilet-trained, suddenly he may start unlearning whatever he has learned. This problem occurs in many children because of a lot of reasons. We’ll now take a look at these reasons, and then at some solutions.


When your potty-trained child regresses, it could be due to some sort of stress that the child may be encountering. A child can be suffering from stress due to a variety of reasons such as divorce between his parents, change in his day care, or change in his nanny or teacher.

Learning New Skills
It could be due to the child’s curiosity to learn new things, once he has mastered the old skill. Many mothers must have seen that once a toddler learns the skills of how to crawl or roll over, he moves on to learn something new such as walking. The same thing happens when a child potty trains. Once a child has learned this skill in and out, he moves on to the next interesting thing to explore and learn, leading to potty regression.

A child may refuse to go to toilet if he experiences some illness such as a urinary tract infection, which might be causing him pain when he urinates. Constipation, dietary problems, blockage in small penile openings in boys, or any bladder problem, which a child may have, might be instigating him to avoid the toilet.

Sometimes, children develop a fear of trivial things such as getting hands dirty while cleaning, loud sound of the toilet flush, pain in the stomach, etc. These things stop them from visiting the toilet even after being potty-trained.


Attention and Positive Affirmations
If the child is under stress, a good way to relax him would be to give him your full attention and to remain positive. If the child is showing resistance, do not make your disappointment obvious. Also, do not shout or punish the child as it will make him even more stressful.

Disciplining is very important while potty training both boys and girls. Maintaining a consistency and forming a routine for toilet visits, will help in disciplining the child. Motivating the child with rewards is another good way to deal with this problem.

Explain and Guide
When the child is busy with other activities or playing, he may not like to go to the toilet. If this is the case, the mother should not go by what the child says; instead, she should very patiently explain the importance of staying clean, dry, and hygienic. However, if the child refuses to budge and throws tantrums, you might need a change in plan.

Sometimes, children have a fear that if they go to the bathroom, their toys or games, which they were playing with, wouldn’t be there, especially if the child is playing with friends or siblings. In such a case, the mother should assure the child that she will take care of his things, while he is in the toilet. In most cases, this will do the trick.

Potty training regression can be easily dealt with, if the parents are supportive and if the child is able to trust them. Of course, if some illness is causing it, getting it treated first will automatically solve the problem. Along with this, assuring the child from time to time, that you love him and will support him irrespective of how may times he fails while learning a particular skill, is equally important.

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I am a father of three and my wife is a registered nurse specialized in children.

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