Potty Training Relapse
For more potty training tips, listen to our podcast episode Nighttime Potty Training, Bedwetting and Relapse.
A relapse in potty training is very common in kids who are newly potty trained. But what a lot of parents don’t realize is that it is actually also fairly common in kids who have been potty trained for a while, like a year or more.
Potty training relapse is a child who has been fully potty trained for 2 months or more and then is having frequent accidents or dampness in the underwear, 2 or more times a week, but more commonly it’s a daily occurrence.
I got a question from Emily in Charlston, WV, about her 5 year old daughter who is constantly having dampness in her underwear, she writes, “my 5 year old seems to be damp in her underwear all day long! I think she just doesn’t want to stop playing. But she’s been potty trained for years, I’ve tried sending her at intervals but the effects don’t last. After a few days she falls right back into her old habits. I don’t know what to do!”
So for Emily and parents like her, I feel it is very important to point out that this is way more common than most realize, and especially with girls. So hopefully that helps allay some concerns.
So what do you do?
You can do a bootcamp type potty training, which I cover in the potty training class available here on the website. This does not mean drill sergeant, it just means a particular way of training over a 2-3 period where it is the focus during those days.
You can also try the interval training, meaning you set a alarm every x interval so 1 hr, 2 hr, 30 minutes, whatever you deem appropriate and send your child to the bathroom. You would then lengthen or shorten the interval depending upon results. Of course the goal is to get your child to learn to feel when they need to go on their own but sometimes this is enough to get your child reconnected with that sensation.
If neither of these work or they work but only for a week or 2 and then you get another relapse, like Emily has experienced, it’s time to get your child checked by your pediatrician. your pediatrician will most likely send you to a specialist for some non-invasive testing, like an ultrasound and an exam. Chances are everything is fine but if there is a problem then you won’t spend months getting frustrated or spinning your wheels. Your pediatrician and/or the specialist will most likely have you work on a potty chart, not as a reward system but as way to see what might be happening. Click Here to get a downloadable version of our potty chart.
This way you can start using it and take it to them appointment to have a head start. Sometimes these things are due to constipation or other issues and then doctor can see this or let you know what else he or she wants to you to look for or track. You can work with your pediatrician or specialist in getting things turned around.