14 answers

Potty Training Relapse

I need some help. My beautiful 3 year old daughter started using the potty back last February when she was just 2. She started all by herself and it went really good for about 2 weeks. I thought I was in heaven. I didn't have to do anything, she just did it one day. Then..... she relapsed. It was impossible after that to get her to go. I tried Candy, Toys, anything I could think of but nothing worked. Now she is probably the most stubborn little thing I have ever dealt with. So i just let it go. I am a strong believer that they will train when they are ready. Especially when they are as stubborn as she is. So anyway. About a month ago she started going all by herself again and she was doing great again. I thought, Okay this is definitly it this time. But I was wrong again. She got sick last week with an ear, nose, throat, and eye infection. Yeah, I know that's alot. She was so sick I just didn't care if she pottied in her pull up. I now know that was a mistake. Does anyone have any advice about potty training relapses? Maybe she'll do it on her own again, HUH?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for all of everyones help. I took some of the advice and took away here pullups. I told her they were all gone so we had to wear big girl underwear. That was all it took. Within about three days we were accident free. I took her to town today for the first time in underwear and she did great. (We live 1 hour from nearest town.) So thank you everyone.

Featured Answers

Hi. I have a son that is now 16. When he was little, he would do something similar to that. I started looking for reasons it might happen and one day I happened to be in the doctors office and I read a paper that was posted about bedwetting. It stated that 90% of the time, its an emotional problem and 10% of the time it's an actual physical problem or disability. Well, I tried focusing more on giving him personal attention, since I have several other children it was a little difficult. But even if all I did was rub his head and said, "Hi, baby!" as he walked past. On the days that he got that extra attention, he did just fine. Also, it takes about 2 weeks to instill a habit, so if you did it every day for two weeks, it might do the trick. I think if you only have two children it would be a lot easier than it was for me, and maybe you already do do that, but if not, maybe try it...Good luck!

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Did you know that the average age for girls to be potty trained is 35 months? That means that half of girls don't train till they are over 3 years old! (This stat came from my child development class)
You said that she is stubborn, which I can totally relate with So DON'T push her or you will loose. After all, this is one thing that she is in big control of. Give her a little more time. I also made sure that when my second child was resistant to training, he saw that his older sister got to do 'big kid' things that he didn't, and told him when he was a 'big kid' and went potty he could try them too. Than might just give her the incentive to try again.
Incidentally, I don't think you made a mistake letting her go in pull-ups when she was really sick. It's very hard for a sick child to make it to the potty and dealing with accidents could have caused a lot of stress and maybe even more potty problems.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I think you did the right thing in letting her do her own thing when she was so sick. Potty training is hard enough on a child let alone doing it when she's not feeling well.

My advice is to take it slow. She sounds like she'll do it when she's ready. My nephew is doing the same thing. He'll pee in the potty and he's so proud of his underwear but when it comes to pooping he'll hold it for days at a time so that he doesn't have to use the potty.

I know that with my son he was ready. We bought him underwear that he picked out and potty training was a nightmare. It finally got to the point that I couldn't handle it anymore. I bought pull-ups for him and decided that we'd still try but I'd take the pressure off. He was potty trained within a couple of weeks and honestly, he does better than my 6 yo.

I guess what I'm trying to say is be patient. I know it's hard sometimes but she'll get there in the end. Congrats on 7 years. My husband (also for time and all eternity) and I celebrated our 7 year just last week.

1 mom found this helpful

Potty training relapses are extremely common. I would recommend doing two things

1. Put her in panties and make her clean up the mess every time she has an accident. Don't make a big deal about it and do not get angry. Just casually make her clean her herself, put the clothes in the laundry and if there's a mess on the floor or sofa she needs to clean it up. She will probably protest and get really mad so make sure you are persistent and consistent.

2. Tell her that it is her responsibility to make sure that she gets to the potty on time. Explain that only she knows when she needs to go so she is the only one who can make sure she gets there in time.

I hope this works. Every kid is so different you never know what will work. I also agree that there was nothing wrong with letting her go in her pull-up when she was sick. Unfortunately after a little one is sick it seems like we have to teach them how do do all sorts of things all over again.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter relapsed with the combination of broken knee, then two months later tonsils out then three mos after that a new baby brother. You need to motivate your daughter and not wait this time at this age. The one thing that worked for us and it was I had a local rec center that does "santa calls" call her and say how proud he would be if she was a big girl now and went on the potty all the time. That was it, she went in, got her underwear and was 100% trained with never another relapse. I realize every child is different but if she has a favorite character that you have have a friend or family member call and pretend to be to encourage her, then make it about being a big girl now and not to give big girl priveledges unless she is a true big girl.

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I remember my daughter being interested in the big potty and using it for about a week at the same age your daughter first did. Then she wasn't interested anymore. It seemed she just wanted to figure out what it was all about, then she knew, so she wasn't interested anymore. She picked it back up again a while later, and after a few months of training and accidents, she was pretty good at it. Your daughter is probably still just testing the waters. I'm sure she'll do it again when she's ready. You can ask her about it or remind her that it's there, just don't pressure her. She'll do it when she's ready. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

K., how you respond to this is going to depend on what you want to do. I know that relapses are normal, especially during stressfull events, which includes illnesses. Potty training can be about learning, or it can be about power struggles. If it becomes a power struggle, you are wise to bow out gracefully. My experience with kids is this: you will never make a child eat, and you will never make them pee/poop in the potty. I'll share my story...

My (now 3 yr, 3 mo) DD is also VERY strong-willed. She started potty training at 18 months, in the summer. We let her run nakey-butt and had the potty out wherever she was. By the end of the summer, she was fully day trained and I was feeling pretty smug. Then the weather turned colder, and she had to get dressed. She had more and more accidents. We went from panties, to pull-ups, then she wanted her diapers back. I was extremely sick w/my pregnancy as well as doing full-time daycare for another child. I gave her back the diapers. When she turned two, she started training again. Things went slowly, but well. Then they got worse again. Her sister was born in April, and my MIL came out for a week to help, and while she was here, she potty-trained DD. Since then, we have had a lot of ups and downs. What helps us is for me to try to remember to ask her every couple hours if she needs to go potty. When she has accidents, I try to be calm about it, but also firm that big girls don't potty in their pants. I remind her about all the good things about being a "big girl" and that seems to motivate her.

So, what you could do...
1. Just let her be and she will potty train eventually. This is certainly an option if you don't have the time/energy to engage in potty training.
2. Set a date and take her diapers away. This might work, or it might make her dig her heels in and refuse to use the potty. In either case, if you do this, you should probably be prepared to (calmly) clean up accidents. I've heard this referred to as the two week, $200 method - two weeks to train and $200 to get your carpets cleaned. ;)
3. Set a timer (or just remind her every hour or two) and tell her "It's potty time" whenever it goes off. We tried this, and it had mixed reviews. It was helpful to remind her, but to make her sit on the potty just made her stubborn.

I would think about why she is having accidents. If she is having a hard time figuring out that she has to go until it's too late, it might help to keep her potty handy. You can slowly move it until it winds up in the bathroom. If she gets easily distracted on her way to the bathroom (my DD), you might need to walk to the bathroom with her to help remind her about where she is going and why. No matter what, don't turn it into a power struggle. Best of luck.

Cheers,
S. L

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I would wait a couple more weeks, set a date on the calendar and talk to her about it, let her know that this is the day she is going to become a big girl and start using the potty like momy, daddy and Hunter. Do a count down every night to the big day and then when the day is here start and don't stop under any circumstances! No pull-ups, no diapers just right to the potty, accidents are ok just have her help clean it up and let her know that you hope next time she will make it and when she does, do the pee-pee dance and make a royal fool of yourself, kids love it!!! Good luck!

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I agree...she will train when she is ready. Kids that age realize that using the potty is something they have complete control over-so if it becomes a power struggle they will win. Give her some other things she can have age appropriate control over (do you want to wear this outfit or that outfit?, do you want the pink dish or the yellow dish? etc)and maybe that will help. Bribes never worked with my kids, but positive encouragement and praise usually does. Good luck! and don't worry too much about it...I have never met a kindergarten age kid in diapers have you?

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K.,

I think when it comes to things that go into their little bodies and things that come out of their little bodies, toddlers and kids should be able to say yes or no. In my experience, potty training is not linear, meaning, they get it and keep on moving from there. it's like so many things with kids - two steps forward, one step sideways. my son was all jazzed at first and then sort of lost interest for a while and then went back to it. i tried to say oh great but not put too much pressure or attention around it for him, and he found his way. i think it was not a mistake to let her go in her pullups while she was so sick. it helps her to know that life is complex and even when you get older you can feel like being a baby again or feel like being cuddled and taken care of instead of always being independent, ESPECIALLY when you are really sick. i would just convey confidence and relaxation to her, something like, oh, sweetie, you can use your pullups if you want, i know you'll use the potty again when you're ready. at the same time i would have agreements like, if she is peeing and pooping in her diapers she has to get changed when you are ready to change her, not when she is ready, you know? i say this because my son pooped in his diaper for a long time after he was peeing in the potty and then he would want to leave it in there for a long time and not be inconvenienced by getting changed. so, i told him (and i would only do this when she is totally well), that along with the luxury of going in the diaper goes the requirement of getting changed when it works for mommy. good luck. it'll all be a memory sooner than you think....

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My son almost died from a severe allergic reaction when he was 2 1/2, and lost interest in going potty too. He eventually regained intrest when we too let it go. Thier functions are thier own, it is thier control. Strangly when things get unstable it is the one thing they absolutely can control. She will find her grove again. If she is old enough to change her clothes, you may have her change her own wet pull-ups (not the poos it is too messy. It is not a punishment, only an ownership and responcibility for her own body and decisions.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi. I have a son that is now 16. When he was little, he would do something similar to that. I started looking for reasons it might happen and one day I happened to be in the doctors office and I read a paper that was posted about bedwetting. It stated that 90% of the time, its an emotional problem and 10% of the time it's an actual physical problem or disability. Well, I tried focusing more on giving him personal attention, since I have several other children it was a little difficult. But even if all I did was rub his head and said, "Hi, baby!" as he walked past. On the days that he got that extra attention, he did just fine. Also, it takes about 2 weeks to instill a habit, so if you did it every day for two weeks, it might do the trick. I think if you only have two children it would be a lot easier than it was for me, and maybe you already do do that, but if not, maybe try it...Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I use a timer...set for every hour of the day to help my son (3 years old)to remember to go potty. After his baby brother was born six months ago he has struggled with wanting to go independently. Every time the timer goes off he hollars "It's time to go potty!". But don't set the timer for 30 minutes or less because it makes them frustrated when they don't feel the urge to go and then they fight the timer. It is something I tried for a month just to get him in the habbit of going again. It is hard to remember to set the timer every morning though. So good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

I noticed many of the mom's who responded agreed with the use of pullups as diapers when she was sick. I read what you wrote "I just didn't care if she pottied in her pullup." I have to say that I disagree. Life doesn't stop and start when it's convient for us. I think you really did care if she went in the potty, you just wanted to show her sympathy. I might have done the same thing. However, I am not sure it is the best thing for everyone. I read the responses because my daughter is almost two and she has shown interest in potty training. Sometimes she goes; sometimes she doesn't. I know it is a challenge, but I've noticed (like most milestones) potty training is more tough on us parents. Try to relax. She'll go when she's ready and you will be there to clap for her.

maybe. my next door neighbor had a girl who was stubborn. she took toys away until there were no more toys. then she did the treat thing. she would eat the treat everytime she went but didn't let her daughter until she pottied

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