Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Potty Training Regression?

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Comment: Thanks for the reassurance! We did start using "Cheerios" yesterday and that has made it "fun" again for him, so hopefully that encourages him. Thanks again!

Questioner: Jeanne

Subject: Potty Training Regression?

Question: Hello, I spent about 3 - 4 days "training" my 3-year old son. By the end of that period, he voluntarily told me when he had to use the potty and it was wonderful. He has had issues with constipation and holding in his bowel movements in the past, so I never pushed him to poop on the potty, as I had heard this happens to a lot of toddlers. We had 3 or 4 wonderful weeks of successful peeing on the potty--including a long car trip and week-long vacation.

Unfortunately, since returning from vacation 3 weeks ago, my son has not once told me he "has to go". He pees 6 - 10 times before dinner time, and if I'm not reminding him to go, he has several, several accidents a day. The two days a week he goes to daycare, he goes through about 6 pairs of underpants. Often, when I remind him, he yells and cries "I don't feel it coming out; I don't have to go", but when I get him in there, he does go. I've tried: rewards, I've tried taking away TV time when he's had an accident to help him concentrate (I explain very nicely that it's not a punishment and we'll do lots of other fun stuff during TV/computer time, just not TV or computer) and I've now resorted to just gently guiding him to the bathroom every 20 -30 minutes, much like when we first trained.

Some other information that might be of interest in this "case". He does NOT poop regularly at all. He had such trouble with constipation that we give him flax seed oil daily and that definitely helps with the "softness" but he does not go every day, and on the days he does poop, it's often 4 - 6 separate times! (How did my mother EVER survive cloth diapers??) In addition, I am pregnant with my second son, though he seems very excited about this (he's even named the baby for us and wants to share a room with him). The only other change I can account for is that he has grown 1.5 inches in less than a month and I can't help but think this might be part of the problem...maybe his bladder is just not big enough for him yet?

Anyway, I'm at my wits end and wondering if I should resort to "pods" or pull-ups until he's really ready or if this is just a typical 3-year-old power struggle. Experts seem to say that he should be "holding" his pee for longer than he does (about 1 pee every 30 minutes), so maybe I started too early??

Thanks for any advice or thoughts!


Answer: Dear Jeanne:


Okay first of all have you asked the doctor if his bladder is normal size, if his kidneys are working properly? I am not saying this is the problem however it is always a good place to start and then work you way back to the house. If he is going more often than he should he probably needs this addressed by your family doctor or pediatrician first to rule any physical problems out.

Next, boys are more of a challenge to train and more often train later than girls.....however.....in all my years of working with families.....I have never had a parent who wrote me because their child was not potty trained before kindergarten or elementary school. So relax.

I would not do the taking away of anything because regardless of how you explain it he will take it as punishment and besides it negates any positive reinforcement you are doing with him. In other words it confuses what you are doing.

Go back to taking him to the bathroom as much as you need to and then rewarding him with something after he goes. Focus on his going only and not on his accidents. Give him lots of eye contact and warm fuzzy comments (I am not opposed to rewards after a potty session). When he has an accident NO ATTENTION. Just take care of it without a fuss and this includes eye contact. If he goes on the floor hand him a towel or whatever and say would you mind cleaning that up. Show him how to clean it up just don't expect him to be able to do so right off the bat.

Now you are expecting and I can imagine you feel pressured to get this potty training thing done and behind you....this won't help. Let it go you may have him in pull ups for awhile. It won't last forever. I promise you it won't last forever.

One last thing about the constipation. Does he have a good diet? Is he eating things with fiber in it? Lots of fresh veges etc....??? What does his doctor say about this as well? I found watered down apple juice often helped in addition to making sure they had plenty of water each day.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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