Toddlers don’t learn complex, new skills in a straightforward fashion. Language develops in your child in a similar way potty training does — following a general pattern, but very unique to your child’s personality — and with lots of starts and stops along the way.

So don’t worry about setbacks. Expect them. When they happen, make sure your child knows the control is in HER hands. Allow a two- to four-week break before you start to mention the potty again. This is the time to take off all the pressure, which will allow your child’s own, natural desire to learn the potty emerge again.

If your child has been reliably potty trained for months and suddenly seems to lose those skills, do check in with your child’s pediatrician. You’ll want to rule out any medical issues like constipation or a urinary tract infection, or psychological factors like stress or a new school, which can contribute to the regression.

It’s not a simple process of learning a new skill; it’s about feeling in charge and in control. And usually, toddlers feel more in charge when they do things THEIR way.