Originally Answered: I had my three year old potty trained but she relapsed when she went to her dads. Can you give me some tips?
After she begins to use the potty, it is normal to have accidents and for her to regress or relapse at times and refuse to use the potty. The process of being fully potty trained, with your child recognizing when she has to go to the potty, physically goes to the bathroom and pulls down her panties, urinates or has a bowel movement in the potty, and dresses herself, can take time, often up to three to six months for most children. Having accidents or occasionally refusing to use the potty is normal and not considered resistance.
While it is recommended that you don't insist that she sits on the potty and you should be prepared to delay training if she shows resistance, at some point if her resistance to using the potty persists, especially after she is 3 -3 1/2 years old, then you should consider her resistant to potty training and you will need to change your methods.
Potty training resistance usually occurs because your child has had a bad experience at some point during potty training, especially if she was started before she was intellectually or psycholgoically ready. Other times, especially with strong willed or stubborn children, it may have nothing to do with your technique or timing, and you may have done nothing wrong.
Reasons for developing a resistance to potty training can include:
--being scared to sit on the potty chair
--flushing the toilet may have scared her from wanting to sit on the toilet
--being pushed too early or fast before she was ready
--severe punishment for not using the potty or being forced to sit on the potty
--inconsistant training, especially among different caregivers
--she may have had a painful bowel movement from being constipated. If this is the case, treat her constipation and wait until she is having regular, soft bowel movements before you begin training again
--or she may just be stubborn and is involved in a power struggle with her parents and is using her control over where she has a bowel movement
--she may enjoy the negative attention she gets from not using the potty or from having accidents
--although rare, there are medical conditions that can make it difficult for your child to hold in or delay urinating or having a bowel movement. Discuss with your Pediatrician if there are any medical reasons why you may be having a hard time teaching your child to use potty, especially if she seems to have other delays in his development.
At this point, if your child is totally resistant to being potty trained, then it is best to just make her responsible for when she wants to use the toilet. This includes not punishing her for mistakes and not reminding her to use the potty. If she seems fearful, you can try and discuss calmly what it is about using the potty that scares her.
While you may get a lot of negative feedback from friends or family members about not being more aggressive with getting your child potty trained, you should be firm and let them know that you are working on it and remind them that not all children potty train at the same time.
In addition, it can be helpful if you:
--establish a reward or incentive for using the potty. This should include lots of praise and attention when she uses the potty. It can also include a star or reward chart on which you child can place stickers whenever she uses the potty. After a certain number of days that she has stickers, then she can get a reward, such as toy, etc.
--have your child be involved in changing herself when she wets or soils herself. This can include getting a new diaper, taking the dirty diaper off, cleaning herself (although she will probably need help after bowel movements), and throwing the dirty diaper away.
--At some point you can change her into regular underware. You can talk about it beforehand and maybe have a ceremony where she throws away the left over diapers or you may just decide not to buy any new ones. Now, when she does wet or soil herself, you can have her help to clean out her underware in the sink or bathtub. You may even have her put them in the washing machine and wait with you while they are getting washed and dried. She should then dress herself. This method is not for everyone, but is usually very effective. You can also have her clean up after herself if she wet or soiled the floor.
--Limit her to having BMs in the bathroom. This isn't always possible, but is easy if she always asks for a diaper just to have a bowel movement. Next, have her sit on the potty to have a bowel movement, even if she continues to wear her diaper. Then work on getting her diaper off by opening it and eventually taking it off. During this process, you should give lots of praise and rewards during each step.
--If she is having a hard time learning to use the potty, but isn't necessarily resistant to the idea, then developing a regular daily routine of sitting on the potty for five or ten minutes every few hours may be helpful.
--Most importantly, avoid physical punishment for not using the potty, even in an older child. It can be appropriate to verbally let her know that you disapprove of her not using the potty, but this should not get to the point of yelling, shaming or nagging.