Agghh, Toilet Training Regression

So you went through two weeks of mopping up accidents, filling out reward charts, changing copious amounts of underwear and trousers, and all the while kept an even temperment and reassured your toddler that accidents were ok. Then suddenly, eureka, your toddler got it!! No more nappies…woo hoo! Plain sailing from here, right?? Usually yes, but sometimes accidents return.

My advice is to keep calm and remember that you are not alone – this will not go on forever! It can be really frustrating though, much worse then toilet training was. You were initially prepared to grin and bear it then, but you were not prepared for this! So why have accidents returned? Unfortunately, toddlers can have their confidence rocked very easily; it can be something big like an absent parent to something relatively small like having the wrong colour sheets on the bed! Toddlers wet themselves as a subconcious way of seeking attention and reassurance from you, so as to restore their equilibrium. The key word here is subconcious – they are not doing it intentionally or maliciously, and getting cross with them or saying something like ‘come on, you are big enough to make it to the toilet by now?’ or asking ‘why did you do it? will get you nowhere. In fact, these very normal reactions will only function to exacerbate the problem and upset you both. Time to ‘parent up’! 🙂

Your child is seeking attention; positive or negative, it’s all good to them. So shower them with positive attention – do more drawing/playing/chatting then you would in the ordinary course of your day until the problem is fully resolved. Remove any and all attention around their wetting/soiling themselves. How? Read on. When your toddler comes to you with their accident, pause, breathe and then nonchalantly address the problem. If they have an accident but don’t tell you or even seem to care, take the same approach – neutrally point out that they are wet.

If you are doing something when they have an accident, acknowledge the issue but don’t stop what you are doing. Calmly say you will change them when you get a chance. It will do them absolutely no harm at all to hang around in wet clothes for a bit, but you may encourage accidents if you drop everything and rush to change them immediately.

Finally, send your toddler to go and take off their clothes and clean themselves and you will be along in a minute, but do not praise their efforts in changing themselves. If you approach every accident neutrally and offhandedly with zero emotion you are well on the way to solving the problem. Your child will quickly learn that this is getting them no attention and soon after the accidents should stop.

If you have genuinely tried all these steps and are getting absolutely nowhere, it might be worthwhile seeking medical advice to rule out the possibility of an underlying ailment, such as a kidney infection. More often than not, it is an act of attention-seeking, and the above should help you on your way to dry days again!

Thanks for reading

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