By guest blogger Rhian Harris, From Tum to Mum
When my daughter was 20 months old, she started to exhibit the signs of readiness to potty train. She hated nappy changes, would tell me when she had filled one, was physically and verbally able, and had taken an interest in the potty.
At first, it felt a little young. I’d read that the typical age to start potty training is usually around the age of 2 years old, but as with most milestones, she had reached it a little earlier. So I figured we could just go for it.
The right time
As with anything, timing is the key. Potty training can be an unsettling time for both parents and children, so the environment in which you start needs to be right.
Big changes such as starting preschool or moving house are best to be avoided, so that you can give it your best shot.
When I decided we were going to go for it, we had recently moved house and she was settled into her new nursery, plus it was a scorching summer. So off came the nappy, and as we were planning to replace carpets anyway, there wasn’t much to lose!
I’d be lying if I made out that the process went without any kind of fail though. We had the usual disasters and accidents, but after a few weeks, she got the hang of it. By the time she turned 2 later that year, she was dry at night too.
So now at the age of 3 and a half years old, she’s been confidently taking herself off to the bathroom for a while.
A new baby on the way
With a baby due in a matter of weeks, I therefore thought we had toileting in the bag. I imagined that if I were busy with the baby, she’d still be able to go to the loo without needing me to always be too ‘hands on’.
Imagine my concern then when her toileting started to take a backward turn.
She has begun insisting on one of us either being with her when she goes to the toilet, despite happily going on her own for a while. She has also had the occasional accident for leaving it too late, or just thrown a wobbly because we’ve asked her to wash her hands.
Despite her excitement, I can’t help thinking that it’s all to do with the impending arrival.
So what to do about it?
How to tackle potty training regression
The good news is that it’s totally normal for children to experience some form of potty training regression. It can happen for any reason. Our new baby is a pretty common trigger with a lot of children.
It’s how you address it that is the important part.
The best thing to do is to not overreact.
Showing disappointment can unnerve your child and make them feel anxious about the whole thing. I don’t want to cause my daughter distress when it comes to using the toilet or having a baby brother. That could actually be more damaging than the actual incident itself.
Based on what I’ve done to tackle our situation, my advice in times of potty training regression is to:
- Stay calm. Depending on the age of the child, explain to them that they are a big girl/boy and as we get older, we learn to do things on our own.
- Praise them. Express how proud you are of them that they do is so well and how they will be the best big sister/brother to show the baby how to do it when they need to learn.
- Identify the cause. What has happened, are there triggers, have there been any changes e.g. are you more distracted and not spending as much time encouraging them to use the toilet?
- Revisit the potty training routine. Try making it into a game by getting them to tell you how to do it e.g. what’s next…?
- Reintroduce a potty training reward system. Kids love stickers or any form of reward. Try to make it something that only ‘big’ girls and boys can have so that you can incentivise being a grown up as opposed to baby behaviour.
Most of all, it’s important not to tell them off too much, or they may feel resentful of the new baby. Don’t beat yourself up over feeling cross and tied about it either. Having a new arrival is an exciting time for the whole family, but can be overwhelming – especially for little ones who may struggle to make sense of it until you settle into a new routine.
Good luck! I think we’re going to need it!
You can read more about guest blogger Rhian over at From Tum to Mum.