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Potty regression -- How many times???

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

DS has been out of diapers since he was 2.5. He will be 4 in December. Last year, he started preschool 2 mornings/week, and loved it right from the start. A few months in, he started having accidents. He would refuse to use the bathroom, or just pretend to go, and then end up having an accident later on. Of course, I've read so many times here and heard elsewhere about potty regression, and it was about the right timing. It went away within a few weeks.


Fast forward nearly a year. No accidents. Ever. Then we had a playdate at his new friend's house last week, and the boys were running wild, playing, and it was hot. DS sucked down 2 or 3 cups of juice in a short amount of time. He used the toilet when I asked him to, but still ended up having a small accident. I chalked it up to too much juice and me not suggesting a break often enough. Then on Monday, he came home from school in the morning and said that he'd peed in his pants "just a little" b/c he didn't feel like taking a break from playing to use the bathroom. I was livid. Told him that it was NOT okay. Yesterday we ran errands and hung around the house. He was fine. Today it was back to school, and guess what? Same deal. I tried not to get angry about it, had decided that no attention to it was the way to go, but he was just so smug about his amazing "discovery" that he can do this and get away with it. Then we got home, he used the toilet (that's when I saw how wet his underwear was), and went to bed for nap. Within 2 minutes, he was up, saying he needed to go to the bathroom, and I lost it.


This is not an infection. This is behavioral. I'm wondering if he's trying to hold some back instead of letting it all out and that's why he's going so frequently. (Now that I'm typing, he does this at bedtime sometimes. He always goes before teeth brushing, but lately has been getting up within 15-20 minutes after he's in bed to use the bathroom again. And I know I've heard DH tell him he can't use the bathroom b/c he "just went" -- so maybe this is an extension of that behavior?)


How do we stop this?? I don't care if he goes 20 times during the day, as long as he doesn't have an accident. But how can we get him to realize it's best to make sure he gets it all out at once so he's not spending so much time in the bathroom and then not wanting to go at all? And how many more of these phases are we going to go through before he just moves on to some other annoying phase?

post #2 of 13

I guess he really has to go again. That's my guess. One night but just one night dd did that - she went about 3 times one after the other. She is usually a good holder - of poop mainly, but that has helped her to learn to hold pee as well. But that night she surprised me. I think he could be watching other kids and probaly learning from them? I recently posted about her poop accidents and we are still on taking away one item (toy or any other possesion.) Since then, we have had no accidents but 2 times of mommy or daddy I want to poop and has done it successfully. I was still checking her pull up for a smear but there was none.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm okay with the repeated trips to the bathroom, but when he's deliberately NOT going when he needs to and then just peeing in his pants instead..... Which he did again today, even though the teachers reminded him to go. Of course, they had the whole class go, and didn't check to make sure he actually produced anything. So he faked it and went in his pants. AAAAARRRRGH!

post #4 of 13



I'm not a Mothering Wise Woman by any means, but here's what I wish I had known when my first child (and then all my subsequent ones) went through this:


1)  At four things are so exciting and interesting that even my first child, who was reading at 2 years old, and had been potty trained since she turned 2, could not be bothered to stop whatever she was doing to go potty. 


2)  Potty breaks are boring breaks.  They're repetitive, lonely, and you might miss something TOTALLY COOL if you go to the bathroom at all. 


3)  Peeing your pants isn't too bad unless you have to clean it up yourself.  Then it's torture.




It's a totally normal reaction to the world at large and to your child's amazing awareness of how vast and incredible the universe it.  I don't go for lots of whining excuses, so we just dealt with it matter-of-factly:  You peed on my floor, you help me clean it properly.  And when she was really engrossed in something (a book, her PICO, a puzzle), I'd put her on a waterproof mat (which irked her) and hope for the best.


Good luck!


post #5 of 13

aha mama. i think i might have the answer for you.


its not your ds's fault. 


the issue is called - Pollakiuria http://pedclerk.bsd.uchicago.edu/pollakiuria.html


i think what he is doing is actually NOT going to the bathroom when he has to. 


Parents are usually concerned that their child has diabetes mellitus or a urinary tract infection


this is what the article said. and it happened to me. we got dd tested. in fact her dad also gave her a round of antibiotics. but that had no effect. in the end i just put dd in a diaper for a couple of months. i mean pullups. it was far easier on her. 


i am guessing your son is tired of going to the bathroom multiple times and so just goes in his pants. honestly while i can believe he holds back - i am not sure it is that easy to do after you have had a lot of liquids. 


do you think this could be so?


dd's friend went every half hour, but dd went every few minutes and peed just a drop or two and then again felt the urge. 

post #6 of 13

Whether it's behavioural or medical I'd suggest pull-ups for the time being.  No shaming, no power struggle, no big deal made of it.  "You have been having trouble getting to the toilet to pee.  I'm going to put this pull-up on you so if it happens again you won't have to sit around in wet underwear.  Wet underwear isn't very comfy and it can give you a rash."  If he goes along with the pull-up, then that's that.  For now.  I imagine pretty soon he'll want to get back on track with the other kids in his class who he sees using the toilet every day.  If he doesn't want the pull-up I'd say ok.  If you don't wear a pull-up then you need to go to the toilet every time you have a pee feeling.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

We never used pull-ups, and are not allowed to at his school. It's potty-trained or go home. He'd LOVE to wear a pull-up, or even a diaper! He never minded being wet at all as a baby, never once told me when his diaper was wet (never cried, never told me once he started potty training). He even suggested that as a solution to this "problem" this time! It's not an option. He can keep his underwear dry, or he can wash it out himself. I'm not big on the shaming and power struggles, although I did lose my temper the first time. I've been holding back the other two times, b/c I know it doesn't do any good to be angry about it. It's just so frustrating to feel like we're backsliding....


meemee, I think you are right. Thanks for the link. He fully admits that he doesn't want to stop playing to go to the bathroom. Yesterday, his teachers reminded him to go 2-3 times but one of them admitted that she didn't bother to go with him to check to see if he went. He went off in the direction of the bathroom and came back rather quickly. He wasn't gone long enough to pee and wash his hands, and I suspect he didn't even pull his pants down. He has been talking a little bit about the kids at school, and it seems like he is trying to figure out how he fits in, so I guess that could be a "social stressor" that the link mentions.


Just typing all this out is helping a lot -- it didn't occur to me til now that this is just another sign of a growth spurt. He has been growing the past few weeks and just learned to write his name. It seems like every time he has a growth spurt/hits a developmental milestone/acquires a huge skill we backslide somewhere, whether it's pottying, eating (which was a HUGE struggle when he was a baby), getting dressed (which he also doesn't do himself anymore).... This is a definite pattern. I just don't know why I still have such a hard time recognizing it!

post #8 of 13

swd can you change the way you see things? i know easy to say but really hard to do. but i tell you that makes a huge difference to the family.


i think you have a v smart little guy on your hands. opinionated, knows his mind with a bit of common sense too. while its frustrating to a mom in a kid, that is a perfect set of qualities in an adult. these v. behaviours will serve him well. 


i think you hit the nail on the head when you say why you 'still have such a hard time recognizing it'. i think this is key. u figure it out and a lot of things wont frustrate you.  what is going on in your life that is making you so frustrated. (yes it was a HUUUGE wake up call when my dd asked me this and went on to say - ma i am being like a regular child, why are you getting so mad at me - OMG she was soooo right. i was taking care of dying family members and some days were worse than others. i seriously woke up and it changed my parenting forever).


you know mama this would not be a problem if the ps didnt have their rules. do they have cloth diapers/pull ups for little boys which dont look like diapers.


is ur boy a thinker? perhaps you can talk to him during one of your bonding moments and say its a shame he wets his pants. that you are concerned others will see it and tease him about it. or he might smell or .... if you think he is open to that kind of talk, i'd talk to him about other expectations out of him from society that even you dont agree with, but you do for the sake of everyone living in harmony. i think its important our kids are aware of this before they hit K. 


this is for a couple of hours of ps right? or maybe even 4 hours? i can understand where ur son is coming from. i'd hate to lose out on playing time when it is limited.


but boy it blows my mind that he suggested pull ups/diapers. coming from a 4 year old - that kind of problem solving is amazing. 

post #9 of 13

Ah.  I had it in my head that he was in daycare (where dipes are ok) as opposed to preschool.  Not sure where I got that idea.


Since he must be in undies at school I think I'd get him involved in the clean-up.  Yes, you can "save time" by just peeing in your pants, but it will certainly take even more time to rinse undies out, put them in a plastic bag (or laundry basket at home), wipe down with a cloth or baby wipe, change into new undies and pants, wipe the floor, etc.  I know it's more work for the teacher too, but they might well be on-board with getting him involved in the clean-up at school too since (hopefully!) it will mean that he will soon realize that it's easier to just pee in the potty in the first place.  Also, a chat with the teacher might help her (him?) see that he might need a little more oversight at pottying time than the other kids, just for now.


Good luck mama!  Pottying issues can be tough.



post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

Yes, he was so proud of his ingenuity! "I didn't even have to stop to use the bathroom!" Ugh. And yes, I do appreciate how great it is that he's putting two and two together, and ironically this is evidence that he is learning about how consequences work. If he doesn't stop to use the bathroom, he has more time to play and doesn't have to be interrupted! Unfortunately, he also has discovered just how much he can get away with letting out so his pants don't get soaked on the outside. That way, the teachers don't know he did it, he doesn't have to change his clothes at school, and there's no mess on the floor to clean up. Brilliant! We live in a very dry climate, so yesterday when we got home, he was dry, but his underwear reeked of urine. I had him wash them out, no anger, and he did it and didn't mind at all.


I love that nothing phases him, but OMG I'm going insane inside. Yes, I need to drastically change my perspective. It would have helped to have done this a looooong time ago, but I'm a bit of a stickler. For details, for rules, for the "way things SHOULD be." Not a good fit for a toddler/preschooler unfortunately.


I'm debating about where to go from here. On Friday, I had the teachers remind him to go twice in the three hours he was there -- didn't work. I'm tempted to have him go every 10 minutes, but that's just not really practical and I'm also afraid it will just backfire and become a control issue. (It likely already is; he's controlling how much he lets out and how often he goes in the toilet....) So what's the alternative? Ignore it and just remind him now and then about staying dry? Ignore it completely?

post #11 of 13
I didn't read the whole thread, but that sounds EXACTLY like my son at that age. Frankly I just kind of gave up and basically ignored it. However, I did make him go to the bathroom at certain times (at least try). I made it like, it was the rule. Now he is 6.5 and he still has trouble going when he needs to. He pretty much waits till the last minute and then is hopping up and down trying to get on the toilet. eyesroll.gif I don't know what to do at this point, but I guess he'll figure it out. My 2yo has better pottying habits. redface.gif
post #12 of 13
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post

So what's the alternative? Ignore it and just remind him now and then about staying dry? Ignore it completely?

ah mama you have asked the million dollar question for which only you know the answer. 


i have to say i notice one thing. you admit you are a stickler. your son likes to be in control too. like mother. like son. (i say this as a helpful way of saying this. not to rub it in or compare) i see this as perfect training grounds for the future - for both you and your son. yes this is the moment. 


and therefore the answer is not easy. you have to figure out what your own parenting philosophy is and what your son's personality is and what he responds to best. 


i have a dd for whom ignoring works the best. has always worked the best. and still continues to work the best. but does that mean that's the strategy for yoour family - not sure. 


perhaps the fact that this is driving you crazy - maybe for your own good you can let it go  for now. for you. NOT for ur son. just let it go for a week. maybe 2 and see how it works. 


reminders are not doing anything. all the strategies are not working. if anything he is defying you people. 


this is turning into a power struggle. let it go. i think ur son needs to be aware why u dont want him to have wet underwear. tell him he stinks. and people maybe too polite to tell him he stinks. perhaps he thinks he is getting away. maybe put a folded towel on his car seat. and then have him smell it?!!!! 


however unfortunately for your own peace of mind, you've got a pretty ingenous boy. well mama you have to come up with ingenous strategies yourself. 


post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

But he's SMARTER than meeeeeee.....</whine> ;-)


You are right. And I have let it go. I had planned to nag every 20 minutes over the weekend and decided against it. He has had some other issues (sleeping, etc.) that are pointing to a growth spurt. I'm sure that this, like everything else before and after, will pass. I just need to remember that when these things first start, as opposed to going crazy about them right away. Teacher conference this morning -- we'll see how he does this week!


ETA: Update -- he came home from school this morning soaked. From water outside. His underwear were the only dry clothing on him!

Edited by swd12422 - 10/10/11 at 3:53pm
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