Just for Parents

Need some advice when things aren’t going as expected? Want to share a potty training tip with other parents? This is the place to be! Choose from the four categories below and find all you need to know.

  • The Big Finish to Potty Training

    The Big Finish to Potty Training

    Potty training is pretty exciting in the beginning. But what to do when the thrill is gone; when it’s not so exciting to interrupt a fun activity to go to the potty; when wearing diapers seems to be as easy as anything else? There are plenty of activities to maintain your child’s interest in training and other techniques to keep them aiming for the “Big Finish.”

    Keep Reading

  • Refusing to Use the Potty – My Tips for Success

    Refusing to Use the Potty – My Tips for Success

    Do you hear “No” a lot these days? Your toddler can’t help it — saying no is their first step on the road to independence. It sure makes potty training complicated, though. Keep these tips in mind while you’re dealing with a defiant toddler.

    Keep Reading

  • Getting Potty Training Advice

    Getting Potty Training Advice

    Now that we’re living in the information era, parents are turning increasingly to the Internet for advice on how to help a child potty train successfully. Here are some tips for finding credible and trustworthy advice.

    Keep Reading

  • Recognizing the Urge

    Recognizing the Urge

    Parents usually recognize when their child has to go to the bathroom (the wiggle, the crossed legs.) The trick is turning those signals into teachable moments so your child recognizes that what’s going on can go into the potty!

    Keep Reading

  • Potty Training During the Holiday Rush

    Potty Training During the Holiday Rush

    With guests visiting from out of town and families taking the festivities on the road, potty training can be especially difficult around the holidays. If you are in the midst of training, there are ways to help ensure that the hectic holidays can still lead to potty training success.

    Keep Reading

  • Regression is Normal!

    Regression is Normal!

    It’s one of the most frustrating aspects of potty training: Your toddler has been in underwear for weeks when suddenly he or she begins to have accidents. But don’t worry — you can get back on track with training despite a bout of regression.

    Keep Reading

6 of 6
Regression is Normal!

Regression is Normal!

by Katherine Bontrager

It’s one of the most frustrating aspects of potty training: Your toddler has been in underwear for weeks when suddenly he or she begins to have accidents. But don’t worry — you can get back on track with training despite a bout of regression.

Robin Nolan’s son finished potty training at age 2 1/2 but began having accidents again when the family welcomed a new baby. The Carson City, Nev., mom had heard this could be common, but it was a definite frustration — especially when coupled with the demands of a newborn infant.

Having multiple accidents or refusing to use the toilet after having successfully finished potty training is called regression, says Dr. Charles Shubin, director of pediatrics for Mercy Family Care in Baltimore, Md., associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland and assistant professor of pediatrics at The Johns Hopkins University. Regression, while frustrating, is a common struggle many parents encounter, and it has a variety of causes. But don’t worry — you can get back on track with training despite a bout of regression.

What Triggers Regression?

Experts say a major reason for regression is the addition of a new brother or sister to the family. “The sibling rivalry that ensues motivates the older child to act more like the baby to get the attention back [that] the baby has taken away,” Dr. Shubin says. “Attention-getting is frequently the basis for regression, even without the arrival of a new sibling.”

Another possible cause for regression could be an infection. “A urinary tract infection can make it difficult and painful to control the bladder, so this can manifest as regression,” says Dr. Cara Familian Natterson, a pediatrician from Los Angeles, Calif.

And while regression can happen for many reasons, it’s usually stress-related, says Michelle LaRowe, a professional nanny with more than 12 years of experience.

“An abrupt change in routine, starting a daycare, welcoming a new baby into the home or any other major life change will throw the little one’s mind and body out of whack,” says LaRowe. “Having an unpleasant experience using the toilet, such as a painful bowel movement, or being teased or disciplined for an accident at daycare also could be the cause. Some older children don’t want to take a break from playing and end up getting to the potty too late.”

Getting Back on Track

Dr. Shubin advises getting back to the basics in order to get back on track with potty training. “Return to the basics of behavior modification: clear expectations, clear responses to the expectations being met (rewards, especially attention) and clear responses to the expectations not being met (ignoring the unacceptable behavior).”

Dr. Natterson says positive reinforcement is key. And she’s quick to point out that negative reinforcement can have a bad effect on your child’s progress. He says, “If your child suddenly gets lots of attention for accidents or regressing to a diaper, he may become invested in that behavior. Sure, he would like positive attention, but [he or she] will take negative attention over being ignored.”

LaRowe says reading books to your child about potty training will offer additional positive reinforcement. She also recommends starting a reward or sticker chart that will visually show your child’s progress and allow him or her to take pride in daily accomplishments.

“Get back on track by sitting on the potty during regularly scheduled times as part of your daily routine, every three or so hours,” LaRowe says. “You can also try to catch him when he looks like he needs to use the potty, remind him to use the potty when he’s playing and provide lots of positive, purposeful praise during this time of getting back on track.”

As for Nolan? She focused on giving her son the extra attention he craved and relied on the start of school — it served as both a deadline for his potty training efforts and a sign that he was now old enough to use the potty. “For school, I put him in ... underwear and sweat pants he can easily take down to go potty,” she says. “He seems empowered now, using the toilet on his own, even at home.”