Q&A: My son was potty trained, but now seems to be regressing. Help!
I'd like to ask you a potty training question about my son, who is about to turn three. He was almost potty trained last summer . . . and then we had a new baby (he also has a five-year-old sibling). Now he has completely stopped training and lost interest. We ask him if he has to go, but he always says "No!" (and then goes in his pants). If we try to put him on the toilet, he just screams. We have backed away from potty training completely, but we are frustrated because he was so close and now we are back to square one. How can we ease him back into potty training?
It sounds like your son’s message right now is “No, not yet,” so backing off as you did is the right response. You may be able to teach him the “how” of potty training, but only he can decide on the “when”. Any negative pressure tends only to set the process further back.
However, you can put a positive spin on the process and encourage him to train by letting him know your hopes. For example, talk up the idea that turning three entitles him to “big guy” status and that big guys use the toilet. Or, talk about how delighted you would be to see him train, without insisting that he do so. Since some of what he may be reacting to is the loss of his status as the baby of the family, emphasize that training is something he can do, whereas his new sibling can’t even dream of such an accomplishment. As you see the readiness signs, keep up the positive encouragement.