Tips for Parents for Potty Training Setbacks

Tips for Parents for Potty Training Setbacks

Guide for parents facing potty training setbacks. Learn why it happens, practical tips for support, and how to overcome regressions. You’re not alone!

Helping Your Child Through Potty Training Setbacks: A Guide for Parents


Mother potty training daughter (2-3), elevated view

Potty training is a significant phase for both kids and parents. It’s a moment to celebrate as your little one learns to use the potty alone. However, sometimes potty training doesn’t go smoothly, and that’s when we encounter something called “potty training regression.” In this guide, we’ll break down what potty training regression is, what might cause it, and give you friendly, easy-to-understand tips for handling it. We’ll also discuss whether potty training regression is ordinary and how long it might last.

What is Potty Training Regression?

Potty training regression happens when a child doing well using the potty suddenly starts having accidents or wanting to return to diapers. They’re taking a step backward in their potty training journey. It can frustrate parents, but don’t worry; it’s a standard part of the process.

Why Does Potty Training Regression Happen?

Let’s explore some of the reasons why potty training regression might occur:

  1. Stress or Changes: 
    Sometimes, significant changes in a child’s life, like moving to a new house, starting daycare, or having a new baby sibling, can make them feel stressed. Kids might want to return to diapers when stressed because it feels safe and familiar.
  2. Physical Issues: 
    Occasionally, medical problems like constipation or a urinary tract infection can make using the potty uncomfortable. When that happens, kids may start using diapers again.
  3. Emotions: 
    How a child feels emotionally can also affect their potty training. They might feel scared, anxious, or unsure, leading to potty training regression.
  4. Routine Changes: 
    Kids love routines. If their daily periodic changes, like having different caregivers or disrupted schedules, potty training can be tricky.
  5. Seeking Independence: 
    As children grow, they want to do things independently. Sometimes, this means they’ll test limits and resist using the potty to show they can make their own choices.

Tips for Dealing with Potty Training Regression

Now, let’s dive into some helpful tips for dealing with potty training regression:

  1. Stay Calm and Patient: 
    It’s super important to stay calm and patient. If you get frustrated, your child might feel stressed, too. Stay positive and supportive.
  2. Check for Medical Issues:
    Talk to your child’s doctor if a physical issue is behind the regression. They can make sure everything is okay.
  3. Offer Reassurance: 
    Let your child know it’s okay if they have accidents. Tell them you believe in them and that they can do it. Please encourage them to try again without any pressure.
  4. Keep a Routine: 
    Children do well with routines. Keep a consistent schedule for potty breaks, meals, and bedtime. A predictable performance can make your child feel more secure.
  5. Use Positive Reinforcement:
    Celebrate small victories with enthusiasm. Praise your child for using the potty or staying dry. You can use stickers or a little reward system to motivate them.
  6. Give Independence: 
    Let your child make choices, like picking out their underwear or helping flush the toilet. It can make potty time more appealing.
  7. Avoid Punishment:
    Never scold or punish your child for accidents or regression. It can make them anxious about using the potty, and they might resist even more.
  8. Limit Diaper Use: 
    Gradually reduce diaper use. Encourage your child to wear underwear during the day. If they feel more comfortable with diapers sometimes, that’s okay, too.
  9. Make Potty Time Fun: 
    Create a comfortable potty environment. Use a step stool or a potty seat to make it more appealing for your child.
  10. Model Behavior: 
    Children learn by watching. Let them see how older siblings or grown-ups use the toilet. It can encourage them to give it a try.

Is Potty Training Regression Normal?

Yes, potty training regression is entirely standard. Most children go through it at some point. It’s just a part of the journey to becoming potty trained. Don’t think of it as a failure on your part – it’s a common experience that many parents share. Your child will get back on track with time and the right approach.

How Long Does Potty Training Regression Last?

The length of potty training regression can vary from child to child. Some may experience it for a few days or weeks, while others might have it on and off for several months. Remember, it’s just a temporary hiccup. Stay patient and positive; most children will overcome this phase to continue their potty training journey.


Potty training regression can be challenging, but many parents and children go through it. By understanding why it happens and following the tips we’ve shared, you can help your child get back on the path to becoming a potty-trained big kid. Remember to stay calm, be patient, and offer lots of support. You’ve got this!

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