A few months ago, I wrote about successfully potty training our 20 month old within a month. Well of course we haven't gone without hiccups. So, I'd like to share our experience in case it's helpful to anyone else, because as usual, our son doesn't oft seem to follow whatever other people or books say is "normal."
Once our son got the whole potty thing down, he was good for about a month and a half with minimal accidents. Like, maybe an accident a week, usually from holding it too long because he didn't want to stop playing. It was great. I felt proud. And then we hit the initial regression. So, here are a few things I've learned through sometimes really frustrating situations:
Developmental leaps can cause regressions:
When he first started regressing, I believe it was because he was starting to say a lot of new words. A couple months ahead of his second birthday, he had a sudden burst of vocabulary, as if he were a newly working fountain. My understanding is that when toddlers and babies go through a developmental leap like this, it's very common for them to regress elsewhere.
Some days are worse than others:
We had days where it seemed like there were nothing but accidents, a lot of resistance to sitting on the potty, and often resistance followed by an instant accident. It's all very frustrating and sometimes difficult to keep your cool, but you have to. If you get mad at them for having an accident, it can make the regression worse, and it dissuades them from wanting to get back on. Plus, it's messed up to get mad at someone when they're trying to learn something or when they simply make a mistake.
Not all regressions last only a few days:
Much like chatter I'd hear about teething pain only lasting a few days, I heard quite often that regressions should only last a few days. Just go back to basics, back-off and try not to prompt too much, give them some independence and all should be well.
Our regression, in total, seemed to last a couple months. Any time he seemed to get back on track, he'd regress again. And honestly, after his initial burst in vocabulary, I have no idea why. I mean, he's two. He should always be developing, shouldn't he?
Regression can feel like a rollercoaster:
At first, in the very least, he'd at least always tell us when he needed to poo. But there was a short period he stopped even telling us that. At one point I was at a total loss, feeling like a total failure, because it seemed his regression kept getting worse. We went through all different kinds of phases of regression, but you know what...he eventually got back on the horse and took the reigns back. It's not always perfect, but at least when he's home or with me, we're mostly successful and he lets us know when he needs to go. Sometimes a little or almost too late, but at least he's telling us and that's all we care about!
The pull-ups debate:
The method I have followed for potty training, or potty learning, is to abandon all forms of diapers and pull-ups so that your little one does not get confused or get lazy knowing he's wearing something that'll catch his mistakes.
My mom, who helps me watch him a few days a week, puts pull-ups on him at her house. Since she is helping me, I cannot blame her or force her to do things my way. And initially when our son first regressed, I wasn't convinced I could blame the pull-ups, because again, he was going through a developmental leap. And I also always try to remind him that he only wears his pull-ups at PuoPuo's house.
Lately though, I feel the pull-ups are messing with him. I've noticed that with me I can get him back into routine, but sometimes with a little struggle after he's been with Grandma. And he's not telling her when he needs to go, but he does tell me at home or when we're out.
So, do pull-ups confuse them or make them regress? It's hard to say that it does 100% of the time, but I think it's a viable factor.
This may be the only time "no" does not always mean "no":
Toddlers often say "no" to the potty even when they have to, just because they'd rather be doing something else. So, you have to trust your instincts and get clever. But recently I've found that when my son resists hard, he really doesn't have to go (usually). For example, during a recent Disneyland trip, it turned out to be one of those days when he really just wanted to hold his pee most of the day. Or maybe he really didn't have to go? We never had an accident or pee in his pull-ups (I do put him in pull-ups on long outings like that), but he resisted and cried so hard several times whenever I'd take him to the restroom. However, when he actually did need to go, he didn't resist. So, I think he's matured a bit to really know when he needs to go or not, and I'm learning to follow his lead.
A similar thing happened just today. He said "pee pee" so I started to take him to the potty. But then he immediately started refusing. He screamed and resisted hard as I put him on the potty so finally I asked, "Are you sure you don't have to go?" I let him off the toilet (our son doesn't use a mini potty, so he needs help getting on to the toilet), and I had a feeling he did need to go, but decided to trust him. Then within a few short minutes he practically screamed "Pee pee!" So we rushed back to the toilet and his pee shot out so fast, some of it missed the toilet, but most of it made it in. And I was proud he told me he had to go when he realized he really couldn't hold it anymore.
Overall, trust your instincts, but also follow their lead. Toddlers apparently love exerting their independence at this time, and that certianly seems to be the case with going potty.
Also, be incredibly patient with yourself. Toddlers are still little humans discovering the world and who they are, so life is a rollercoaster in all aspects. Just go with the flow and know that your best is enough.
What has your experience been with potty regressions and how do you handle them?