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Potty Training Regression-How to Get Back on Track

toddler and mom

Potty training regression is a fairly common problem that parents face. Although it can be a source of frustration for both the parent and the child, it should be seen for what it really is - just a minor setback. With some simple investigative work, you should be able to identify the source of the problem pretty quickly.

Here are some common reasons for potty training regression:

Distractions are probably the most common problem. Sometimes when a child is having a lot of fun playing or is interested in a particular television program, he/she will wait too long to go use the potty. This can develop into a habit if allowed to continue. Fortunately, this is very easy to fix. You can develop potty breaks every one or two hours where you stop everything, turn everything off and have 15 minutes of potty time. If your child is unable to go, just try again in the next hour. As an alternative, you might try to detect your child's "potty pattern," or specific times of the day that your child needs to go. With this information, you can target those times for potty breaks.

Starting too soon is another common source of potty training problems. In these cases a child will sometimes seem to be potty trained, only to regress in a short while. Well meaning parents often have preconceived notions about specific ages that children should be out of diapers. I was guilty of this, myself. In reality, all children are different. Some take to potty training very early and some much later. Many parents believe that they will be considered lazy or bad parents if their child is still wearing diapers at the age of 2 or 3. But if you ask around, you will find that it's very common. The key to picking the right time for potty training is to wait for signs, or cues, that your child is ready.

Just as beginning too soon can cause problems, starting too late might also be problematic. "Diaper dependency" can occur when a child becomes too comfortable wearing a diaper and does not want to give it up. The thought of wearing underwear and using the potty can actually seem scary to the child. Once again, you just need to watch for cues from your child that he or she is ready to make the change. If you haven't noticed any cues but think your child is old enough and should be trained, you can always give it a try with the "potty break" method. Just remember to be patient if your child proves not to be quite ready for the change.

Stress is another factor that can cause potty training regression, but it's one that often goes unrecognized. Stress can be caused by many events in a child's life, such as moving, changing daycare, beginning preschool, or even the process of potty training itself. These events may seem minor to the parents, but they can be quite stressful to a small child. It's important to consider whether or not something has changed in your child's life that might be causing stress. If so, just be understanding and try again in a few weeks to a month.

These are just a few of the causes of potty training regression. There are many more to consider. I know that it can be very frustrating when you believe that you crossed an important threshold in your child's development, only to find things slipping backward. The most important advice that I can offer is be patient with your child above all else. Remember that this is a trying time for him or her, as well. With some patience and understanding, you should be able to find the cause of the regression without too much trouble.