5 answers

3 1/2 Year Old Regresses with Potty Training

Lately, my 3 1/2 year old son has regressed with potty training. At first, he had numerous accidents and refused to pee in the potty. Then yesterday, he locked himself in the laundry room and sprayed pee all over. Today, he pooped in his underwear twice at school. I am at a total loss. I'm trying to not let it become a power struggle but I'm not sure what to do. Any ideas?

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I think the most important thing to remember is that we cannot fix issues without truly understanding their origin. It can be incredibly difficult with a young child, but if you think about everything - you may be able to come up with something that has changed or thrown off your little one. I would advise NOT using any sort of punishment to address this situation simply because it creates a "bad attention is better than no attention" scenario. Just as a beginning potty trainer - "seasoned vets" need the same patience and encouragement. I would encourage the good and give hope for better on the "bad". "You must have had to go potty really bad, I will help you next time if you need. I'll be right here, let me know if you need me." Positive reinforcement really does work.

Regression happens. I would say if school is new it could be stress related but sounds like he is being purposeful which would tick me off! :) I would put him back into pullups and explain all big boy priviledges are ceased until he starts going in the potty again! Just be matter of fact but sounds like he is trying to get attention especially since he is locking himself in somewhere and doing it!!!!
Regression happens with change typically and you have to ride it out. Just put the pullups back on him and give him some time. If he wants big boy rewards then explain things have to change. Talk to him about school and see if he is happy and enjoying it.

I would put him back into pullups because it sounds like it is becoming a huge power struggle. Tell him that since he can not be a big boy that he has to wear the pullups. Then, I would drop the whole thing for a few months and try again. Good luck!!!

It is really common for kids to regress with potty training, but it sound like your son hasn't just regressed; it sounds like he is being rebellious about it. I agree that there is something that spurred this and you need to get to the root of the problem. Also, he needs to be responsible for his choices. He needs to clean up his mess; all of his mess. If he sprayed down the laundry room he needs to get a rag and cleanser and clean it up. If he soils his clothes he needs to put them in the laundry, get new clothes, and clean up any other mess that may have ensued. I would also recommend putting him back into pull-ups, but you may want to make it his decision. That is, he can make the choice to go back to pull-ups for a while or he can choose to clean up any messes he makes.

We had a similar situation with our 3 1/2 year old daughter. She was having accidents daily. When I stopped to take a closer look it was clear that we were in fact in a power struggle with her. In our case I believe it was lack of positive reinforcement for good behavior. I made her a sticker reward "potty champion" chart and gave her lots of praise when she chose to go to the bathroom instead of having "accidents". In less than two days she was not wetting her pants anymore. It has been about a month and I think she has only had one accident (which I believe was from waiting too long to go and not just choosing to potty her pants like she had previously been doing). I would recommend that you take a closer look at other things going on. It very well could be stress related. I would try not to give it too much anger attention, this would just create more stress. I agree with others that he should have to help clean up the mess but not in a serious punishment sort of way, more like "oh, what a bummer, look at this mess you made. When we choose to make messes, we have to clean them up".

Good luck!! It was very stressful for us until we realized that this seemed to be the only thing she felt she had any control over. Kids need to feel like they have some control over their lives. If we don't give it to them (in a positive guided way) they will resort to extremes to take it!

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