Potty Training Resistance and Regression

Recently, I attended the Mommybites Potty Training event where the speaker was the dynamic and knowledgeable Dana Rosenbloom. One of the questions that came up was what to do if your child is developmentally ready, but is still totally resistant to potty training?

Dana’s advice was simple. DO NOTHING for a month. Don’t talk about potty training, don’t bring it up, do absolutely nothing except leave the child potty out (albeit, unused). Dana’s feeling is that sometimes kids sense our stress and for some children, this manifests itself as total potty avoidance.

Janeen Hayward answered a similar question about potty regression in one of her
blogs a few years ago. In her post, she states:

“Regressions with potty training are normal, and more to the point, they often have
meaning. It is important to take stock of other changes in his life or the family (i.e. new
baby, new caregiver, starting school, illness, change in parent’s work schedule) to see
if there is anything there that could explain the regression.

Sometimes events such as these can create anxiety and poke at a child’s sense of belonging and/or significance – two variables that are very important when we look at behavior. And of course, how we parents respond to these behaviors can be the difference between them continuing or not.”

Here are some suggestions to help your son get back on track:

  • Stay calm. He will take his cues from you. If this is an area that causes you to panic, worry, frustrate or anger, it becomes ripe for power struggles. Don’t engage in the power struggle.
  • Provide lots of opportunities for your child to feel powerful and significant. For example, many three-year-olds can help with sweeping, getting ready for bed, putting away dry grocery items. Feeling both powerful and significant in these constructive ways means your child won’t have to use the potty as an area for a power struggle.
  • Be sure to tell him that big worries and small worries alike, you’re always ready to listen.

Check out the rest of Janeen’s post on Potty Regression to learn more tips!

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