Potty Training Regression: What They Don’t Tell You Online


Regression: [n] the act of going back to a previous place or state; return or reversion.

I’ve only been a mom for a short 2 and a half years, but regression is something I am very familiar with. Most toddlers regress in sleep, speech, play, eating, drinking, walking; basically, any time you think you’re in the clear, they regress. Which brings me to the topic of this post: potty training regression.

When I decided to potty train my son at just about 2 years old, I didn’t think it would be easy. I also assumed at some point we would go through a regression, because well, we have with basically every other milestone. Lucky me; I was correct! After a couple of weeks, my son was able to wear underwear through the day with zero to 1 accidents. He was even telling us when he needed to go to the bathroom. I was convinced we were in the clear.

Then… the number of accidents per day started to increase. Not only was he having accidents, but he had completely stopped telling us he needed to go. He seemed unphased with the wet pants, our disappointment, even punishment on some days. The more we told him he needed to use the potty, the less he cared. Now part of me believes I deserve this; I am easily one of the most stubborn people I know. Regardless, when looking at information and assistance with this type of behavior the internet had little to none to offer.

I repeat: I have only been a mom for a short 2 and half years, and this is the first time I have actively potty trained a child. But with that said, I am intelligent enough to know that a shift in routine, moving, or new sibling could rock a toddler’s world. However, none of that transpired over these past few months. There is seemingly no good reason why my toddler has decided to take potty training into his own hands, or onto my carpet, rather. 

Here’s what I can offer:

  1. Almost every child will regress with potty training in one way or another. It doesn’t matter how young or old; girl or boy; daycare or not. Kids will be kids. Regressions happen and unfortunately, we have to ride the wave until it settles back to “normal.”
  2. There doesn’t have to be a reason. Nothing has radically changed in my son’s life. It’s like he woke up one day and was like, “You know what… No. I’m not peeing in that potty anymore. Well maybe sometimes, but not when you tell me to.” If he could articulate that well, I swear those are the exact words that would come out of his mouth.
  3. Some days are better than others. We have days where he doesn’t have a single accident. Then we have days where it’s like he has completely forgotten that the potty even exists (like the other night when we were about to leave for the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular and he stood up on the couch and let it rip).
  4. Sometimes potty training regression means starting over. After we realized what we were doing wasn’t working, we backtracked. We went back to using a timer and taking ourselves out of the equation. The more we pushed, the worse it got. The timer allowed us to step back and let him be more in control of his body (or at least feel like he was). 
  5. Wine helps. No, but really it does and so does reminding yourself that parenting is hard. Teaching a little human to do the things that are so natural to us is challenging. Pat yourself on the back those days they have one less accident or ask to use the potty. They’ll get there, maybe not on our time, but they will. 

P.S. I am so grateful for professional carpet and upholstery cleaners.


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Chelsea was born in Providence and spent her early years in Pawtucket, before moving to South-East MA. She was recently called back to Rhode Island where she purchased her first home. As most moms do, Chelsea wears many hats these days. She’s been married to her husband for 10 years and spent her early 20s supporting him as he served in the United States Marine Corps. She has a one year old son, Cannon, who keeps her on her feet and a smile on her face. She owns a fitness and wellness studio in Rehoboth, called Barre & Moon. Where she spends quite a few evenings and weekends working with an amazing group of empowered, positive women. And when she’s not doing all of that, she is working part-time as a Special Education teacher in Foxboro. Chelsea attended both the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and Bridgewater State University, graduating with degrees in English, Elementary Education and a Masters in Special Education. Education is greatly important to her, and she continues to stay updated on current teachings in education/child psychology. She loves Starbucks, and all things Target. Exercise is a huge part of her life, anything from yoga, to barre, to weightlifting, to just chasing her son around on the playground! Staying active and having fun with family and friends are what she is all about.