Dealing with Potty Training Regression? Ask Your Toddler This Question

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Once we had figured out the right incentive for our 2 year old son, he was potty trained. It was magical and wonderful and we were thrilled it was as easy as finally figuring out the right incentive – this reusable sticker book. He would get a large vehicle sticker for going poop in the potty and a smaller sized one for pee. Worked awesome!

So when the potty training regression hit a few months later, we were stumped. We tried pulling the sticker book back out, but this time with only moderate success. Our son was peeing at friend’s houses, at our house, and didn’t seem to really care.If your young child or toddler is going through potty training regression with frequent accidents, ask them this ONE question. If it works it will save you a lot time and sanity!!

In fact, he once ran over to his little potty seat (this one which works great for boys and girls and is super affordable and easy to clean), stopped trying to pull down his pants, stood there, stared at me, peed himself, and then cried. Clearly, he had given up.

The last day he got as bad as four potty accidents by lunch time. And this was at home, where the excuse of “a new environment” or “he was too busy playing” didn’t prove applicable.

I was fed up.

So, I did what any modern 21st century parent does in dire situations as these – I asked my friends on Facebook.

Potty Training Regression Solutions

There were a few suggestions thrown around, including a cold bum wash, and even the idea of sticking him back in a diaper, because he’d probably hate it since we had already ditched the diapers.  If your young child or toddler is going through potty training regression with frequent accidents, ask them this ONE question. If it works it will save you a lot time and sanity!!While I considered both of those, and was already making him help me clean up his accidents (which was also suggested), another friend, my husband’s aunt, suggested I tell him I missed my big boy.

My two year old son loves telling people that he’s a big boy! With a baby sister, and two older sisters, he’s a bit obsessed with the idea of being a big boy. As we were potty training we, of course, emphasized that using the toilet is what big kids do.

So, I figured I’d give it a shot. Why not? It wouldn’t involve figuring out the right punishment or reward or consequence or involve yelling or spanking.

It would mean a simple conversation. I could handle that.

Plus, if it didn’t work, I had a few back-up options.

The Question that Stopped the Potty Training Regression

As he was sitting on the potty later that day (as I had resorted to putting him on the potty every hour to avoid his frequent accidents), I asked him a very important question:

“Michael, do you know where my big boy went?”

He was very confused. He furrowed his brow, pointed at his chest and said “I’m your big boy.”

I said “No, I don’t think you are anymore. I think you turned back into a little boy. Only little boys pee their pants.”

He again furrowed his brow. He didn’t like this idea.

“No, I’m a big boy!” he assured me.

“I don’t know. I think my big boy turned back into a little boy. I bet he could turn back into a big boy again though if he made sure to pee in the potty.”

“Yeah, I pee on the potty! I’m a big boy!”

“Okay, we’ll see if you can keep it up and turn back into my big boy again, because I miss my big boy Michael.”

He hasn’t had a potty accident since. 

If your young child or toddler is going through potty training regression with frequent accidents, ask them this ONE question. If it works it will save you a lot time and sanity!!

For the following two or three weeks he would proclaim “I’m a big boy!” every time he used the potty. After a day or two of him successfully using the potty, I decided our episode of potty regression was over and told him he was a big boy again.

He was thrilled to hear it.

Now, we just need to work him wiping his butt by himself….

While I am sure this won’t work for every child going through a potty regression phase, it was such an easy, quick, and painless (for him and for me) solution. I would definitely recommend it! What do you have to lose?

What have you done when your child experienced potty training regression? 
great tips on potty training and tips on potty regression too!

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  1. says

    There’s a lot of power in those titles “big boy” and “little boy”. I think I’ll keep this in my tool belt for when my boy is ready for potty training. Which I guess I’ll start thinking about after his second birthday.

  2. Beeca says

    We just waited until our kids were ready for potty training, and let them lead us. It took longer; but as my mom says, “I”ve yet to meet a kid who goes on his first date wearing a diaper.” Once they decided they were ready there was no regression and no accidents – as opposed to my friends who pushed the issue with their kids, who would proudly announce, “My child is potty-trained! Well, of course not during the night. And he still has 2 or 3 accidents a day. And when we go out we always put him in a diaper, just in case. But it’s so nice to have him potty-trained!”

    • says

      Lol!! That is so funny and very true. Our son was 100% potty trained (night time dry, no accidents) and pretty much did it himself. So the regression sucked. Since we did this though, no accidents at all. I like having my kids potty trained before three. People say boys are harder, but he was easier than either of my twin girls!

  3. says

    Good morning Katelyn,
    We have been struggling with my son with pottying. I am one who firmly believed in waiting until they were ready. With my daughters that work great. However, my son had turned 4 and was still not pottying. The biggest struggle were the bowel movements, so I couldn’t put him in undies. We realized he was holding it in but it was “leaking” out during the day, making him constipated. I was at my wits end and ended up using the idea of a chart. This was my Mother’s Day present, because he was finally going potty successfully. However, 5 months later, he is having pee accidents. Not sure the “big boy” thing will work, but if the accidents persist, I may try it. Though he is 4 1/2, not 2.
    Thanks for sharing this over on Tots and Me. I did want to let you know, you had linked this up to my Wordless Wednesday post, but I have a feeling it was meant to be linked to Littles Learning Link Up. I’m hesitant to change it myself, however, just in case I am wrong. If you did mean for it to be on Littles Learning Link Up, I would love if you could stop by and add it there. I will then delete it from Wordless Wednesday. Here is the direct link to the Littles Learning Link Up.
    Have a great day


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