Subject: Potty training but wetting again
Question: My 3 1/2 year old daughter was potty during the day and did a great when she needed to go potty or poop. Now she seems to be waiting too long and actually wets or poops her pants during the day.
I have taken away toys and other priveleges for her wetting but she does not seem to care and actually laughs about it.
Do you have any suggestions to get her on the right track?
Answer: Dear Lisa:
I am so glad you wrote to me. Potty training and negative consequences will not get you want you want, a dry child.
What you need is great positive reinforcement. I just posted this answer for another parent on the site. So read through it. Get to where you are in this process and then figure out what she likes and what you can positively reward her with as both positive and negative reinforcement INCREASES behavior. So when you reinforce behavior with Negative reinforcement it increases behavior I suspect you don’t want!
Then ask yourself how consistent you are with her potty training. The potty training process is something which goes on long after a child knows how to go to the potty. For instance, responding to her immediately when she does have to go to the bathroom. See the reading below!
I am glad that you don’t want to use any negative behavior to get your daughter to potty train. Actually potty training children is very simple and very easy. Most people find it a challenge not because of the child but because it takes discipline and consistency on the part of the child.
First, find a children’s picture book about going to the potty. Most book stores have these in the children section and possibly the library as well. Start reading this to her for a few days before you commit to potty training.
I have read that children can be potty trained in only 3 days! What you have to do is to commit three days to just potty training. This means taking her to the potty about every 2 hours or so and getting her to sit on the potty (not forcefully, just encouraging) to see if she needs to go to the bathroom.
I suggest putting some of her favorite books there so you can read her a story and/or planning on sitting there with her for 3-5 minutes. You could sit and sing songs, play finger puppet games or just playfully chat with her about going to the potty. When she goes to the potty (assuming you are doing this on a potty chair) allow her to help you dump out the pee or poop into the toilet. You can flush the toilet and say good by pee or good bye poop. (Children love to watch the toilet flush!) Tell her what a big girl she is and then applaud her and get her to applaud herself, saying, Yeah….(her name) went pee, pee in the potty. You can be very playful and do a playful dance while singing, (her name) went pee, pee in the potty! Repeat several times with a cute dance with her. (All of this may sound very silly but 2-3 year olds like all that playfulness and it is great positive reinforcement for behavior that you want her to continue on and on.
Remember do not force her, a crying child is not going to participate in any of this. I found it helps to shut the lid on the adult toilet and sit there with them while they go in addition to the other activities already mentioned.
Potty training needs to not ever be negative or unpleasant.
If you do this for three days she is going to get the idea of going to the potty. However, you will need to stay in tune with her communication of her need to go to the potty. Realize that she may love it so much she may also give you false alarms. Do not become impatient with her if she just “pretends” she needs to go to the bathroom. Let her sit there but don’t make the “big fuss” when she doesn’t go because she faked you out. You want her to want to do this so even this is a GOOD sign.
Also, after the 3 day period you need to listen to her and respond immediately. Little children’s bladders are not very big and they have accidents because they get busy playing and do not want to stop having fun to go to the bathroom or they go because we adults do not want to stop what we are doing and TAKE them to the bathroom.
Remember when you are traveling with a child that you need to stop when they need to go not when it is convenient for you as an adult to stop the car. I have had to pull off on the side of the road and let them go in the grass more than once. When they have to go, they have to GO.
By the way you asked your questions I think you and your daughter are going to be very successful in your potty training experience. You want the best for her and she is fortunate to have a parent who wants to do what is best for her!