Just when you think your little one has mastered toilet training, suddenly he's refusing to use the potty or is having lots of accidents. What's going on?
This bump on the road to becoming dry is known as regression, and while it may be baffling and frustrating, it's a completely normal and common stage. Here's how to get back on track:
What triggers regression?
Regression has a variety of causes, usually stress related. An abrupt change in routine, starting nursery, having an unpleasant experience while using the toilet like a painful bowel movement, or being teased or disciplined for an accident can all contribute to a phase of regression.
Experts also agree that a major reason for regression is the addition of a new brother or sister to the family. Sibling rivalry can make the older child act more like the baby to get the attention back that the baby has taken away. Regression can be about attention-getting, even without the arrival of a new sibling.
Another cause to rule out could be an infection. A urinary tract infection can make it difficult and painful to control the bladder, so this can manifest as regression. Always seek medical advice if you suspect that your child might have an infection.
Getting back on track
Go back to basics in order to get back on track with potty training. Resume the routine of regular potty use, try to catch him when he looks like he needs to use the potty, remind him to use the potty or toilet when he's playing and provide lots of positive, purposeful praise. Look at potty training themed books again and use a reward or sticker chart to show your child's progress and allow him take pride in daily accomplishments. If it goes on for more than a few days, or if it's upsetting you or your child, going back to Huggies® Pull-Ups® for a while can also help.
Positive reinforcement is very important, but beware of negative reinforcement. Getting a lot of attention for accidents or regressing to a nappy may compound that behaviour. Children prefer positive attention, but they'll take negative attention over being ignored. With this in mind, praise your toddler when he gets back on the potty and returns to good habits. Even if he doesn't go in the potty or toilet but just tries, give lots of positive feedback. And if there's an accident or if your child wees on the floor on purpose, do your very best to ignore the behaviour so that he doesn't think that it's an effective way of getting your attention.