This is a response I wrote to another similar question that I saved... maybe you will find it useful?
You are so wise to ask for "ways to word things" and "possible dialogue." It seems like you recognize that "regression" is not really the word you want here, but you are struggling to understand how to respond to this increase of misses. Let me pose a theory: you want advice for "ways to word things" not just with him, but with yourself. You recognize that "regression" is a potty training word, and refers to an approach to toileting that is foreign to your family. But you feel this odd pull to use it. You want a different word, so you can use the right words with your son about the miscommunication you guys are having.
So... prepare for the philosopher's view of things. In brief, I think mainstream culture is pulling you to use the word "regression" only because Sam is two. And now that he is a big brother, it is even easier for you to see him as "the mature one" as opposed to the baby. But it's not regression. And I think you need to understand why before you and Sam can get your communication groove on again.
Isn't it odd that our culture seems to only use "regression" with respect to the potty training milestone? My kids both rolled over back to front really early. Once. And then did not do it again for weeks. Were they in a rolling regression? No. They had rolled once. They had, in the eyes of myself and their physician, attained the "milestone" of "rolling." Similarly, to have attained the milestone of walking, a child really only needs to have taken a few steps. If they then seem to back off with their new-found skill, does anyone start to wonder what psychological and environmental factors are at work that would lead to a "walking regression?" No. Why is this?
Let's break this down even further. As I've thought about it, I have realized that "being potty trained" seems unique among all the milestones our young children attain for not one reason (the possibility of "regression"), but for three reasons.
1. It is not attained from the moment they first do the desired activity correctly (taking a step, rolling over, sitting up, peeing in the potty), but rather not until they are doing it almost as well as an adult. If they have "accidents," the accidents must be understandable ("we were driving and couldn't stop in time!") or excusable ("yes, but 90% of the pee does go in the potty.") If we held our children to these standards for their other milestones, you couldn't say your child was walking until he or she could cross the room without stumbling once, unless of course the dog knocked him over or his shoelace came untied.
2. "Being potty trained" seems to be the only milestone from which a child can "regress." Given my point #1 above, this makes sense. If reaching the milestone of rolling requires only one roll, you can't regress; you can't take that roll back! If reaching the milestone of "being potty-trained" means eliminating in a toilet 90% of the time, it's easy to talk about regressing. More than this...
3. When a parent declares that her child is experiencing a "regression" in potty independence, what follows is a conversation about causes... and the weird thing is, the kinds of causes considered are all sort of similar. They revolve around psychological, behaviorial, and environmental reasons the child might not be using the potty. In a word, they revolve around stress. "Your child is having a potty training regression? Tell me about the sources of stress in his or her life." Now... consider the case of a child who had been walking, but then suddenly seemed to stop being able to walk. We wouldn't talk about stress. We wouldn't talk about psychology, behavioral issues, or environmental changes: we'd talk about medical --which is to say biological-- issues. If a child is regressing from the "being potty trained" milestone, it's usually not chalked up to being a biological problem. Mom or Dad knows that the biology involved works just fine, they've waited for those signs of readiness, after all! EC'ers, though, know that bodily pain and discomfort (teething and illness) can affect the frequency of “misses.” We know that biological development of the brain can call a child's attention away from the sensations of urgency while he is working on attaining another milestone. Stress impacts the EC'd kid too, of course, but I would wager that most of the time that what it is affecting is not the child's awareness of her body, but the quality of communication between parent and child. (I might also suggest that parents assume stress is a factor in potty training regressions simply because they are, on some level, aware that the pressure they are applying on their child to reach the milestone is creating stress.) I will only go into this if someone wants me to do so. This post is getting long enough!
Now, I said above that "being potty trained" seems unique as a milestone, but I was really stringing you along: in fact, it is not unique. It is structurally similar to two other milestones: "being weaned" and "sleeping through the night." With these, too, attainment is based not on beginning the process ("he ate his first solid food! he is weaned!") but on having attained total or at least near-total mastery ("well, she slept through the night a couple of times, but we are not there yet.") With these, too, "regression" can happen (did you know that sleep-training parents talk about having to "re-train"?). With these, too, the reason a child might wish "to go backward" is often identified as stress or environmental influence, and not due to biological needs and changes ("she's sleeping worse again after that trip we took, I guess" and "he's asking to nurse again! it must be having seen that baby at the mall.") At the risk of being bold, I will add a fourth commonality that differentiates these three milestones from rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, talking:
4. Being "potty trained" or "weaned" or "sleeping through the night" are all *conventionally determined milestones* -- not biological ones. If they were truly biological, the parent would be the helper, and not the teacher. A biological milestone does not need to be taught. We do not have videos showing babies how to walk. A new little person does not need to be taught what rolling, walking, or talking are. They might need your help taking those first few wobbly steps, for sure. But there is a big difference between helping a baby do something and telling or showing him what to do.
And so here is where we get to the crux of the matter:
Attachment parenting means being the helper, and not the instructor. It means letting your child eat solid foods when they want to, but not forcing them to eat a certain amount by a certain age and keeping them from the breast to accomplish that goal. It means helping them find longer periods of sleep, not showing them how it's done by making them do it. The same is true with elimination. We should not be *teaching* (or training!) our children to eliminate away from their bodies. We should be helping them do that. They want to wean (eventually, yes they do!) They want to sleep all night (yes, eventually, they do!) And they want to use the potty like a big person (yes, eventually, they will!) We do not need to teach them to do any of these things. We need to help them. Big difference.
It is very difficult to hold on to this mindset when everyone around you is weaning their kids. It is very difficult when you have societal pressure to be able to hold down a job after 1 month of maternity leave, and you cannot sleep through the night at home because your baby is not sleeping through the night. And it is hard-- even for the seasoned EC'ing family-- to remember that just because a child is two does not mean that the guiding principal of EC has changed. He will reach potty independence when he is ready, and your job is to communicate with him to figure out how to help.
I would only advise returning to consistent diapering, I think, in two types of scenarios:
1) You are having a really difficult time controlling your stress and irritation with his misses. I am not sure if you have moved to a different living situation; I remember that was a cause of stress for you about misses in the past. It is perfectly acceptable for you to be stressed about misses, especially if you live in fully carpeted rental housing. It is also perfectly acceptable for you to be stressed about misses, especially if Sam's peers are "potty trained." If so, diapering is better than building a climate in which stress and irritation infect your every communication with him. But there are other ways to handle this, too. Turning to a community that can dismantle the myths of regression, for one.
2) You suspect a food or environmental allergy or sensitivity is to blame. This was the case with us, and when I look back, I can remember my son's often shocked face after he peed on the floor. When he was three, he actually said, "I don't even know where that peepee came from!" Diapering can reduce the stress for both of you as you seek to figure it out.
I'm not sure many more exceptions exist. I sort of think not. I'm open to arguments, though.
And remember-- "returning to diapering" doesn't mean "failing to offer pottytunities." You still have intuition and timing at your disposal, even if your communication is off kilter.
Ultimately, I think a lot of things will click into place when you give yourself permission to stop calling Sam's current stage "regression." I think by doing so you will be giving yourself permission to continue your disassociation from the potty trainers of the world.