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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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!

1 mom found this helpful

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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