I have a potty training predicament. My oldest who is 3.5 years old has been potty training for the past few weeks. We have seen the normal regression from time to time and a few accidents here and there. We just can't get him to turn the corner. What confuses me is when he is at day care (with a family member in her house) he can wear underwear all day long and stay dry. As soon as he comes home, all potty trips stop and he just goes in his pants. We have come to our wits end and have no idea just what is causing him to totally regress when he walks in the house. He went over 12 times yesterday for his care provider and today he wet his pants 4 times before lunch and has not gone on the potty once. Any help would be great. I am beginning to feel like it is something we are subconsciously doing to him.
From: Wet in Norwell
Dear Wet in Norwell,
If these "accidents" only happen at home, then they aren't accidents: He likes the attention they bring him, even if it's negative attention. Since you say he's your oldest and he's only 3 1/2, I'm gonna take a leap here and assume that there's a baby (or two?) in the family. Instead of just seeing the accidents as a pain in the neck (which, of course, they are!), pretend they are a cry for attention: "Hey, mom, I'm not getting as much of you as I like to have and having these accidents at least gives me your undivided attention. You know, like before the baby was born."
Here are two suggestions:
1. Create "Mommy & Me" time. Announce it to your son as a special time each day -- it can be as little as five minutes -- when the two of you will do something together. It's such a special time that there are no interruptions. Make a point to turn off your phones, and to make sure there's someone else there for the other children. Let him choose the activity from a few you suggest. I'm talking low-key activities that encourage intimacy and interaction, like sitting on your lap and reading a favorite book, or having a snack under a tree in the back yard. He will see that he has your undivided time and doesn't need to act out to get it.
2. Don't react to the accidents in any way. Stay matter of fact & neutral. Don't scold, show exasperation or even talk about it. Ask him to help you clean up by getting clean underwear or clothes. Don't talk about it to any adults if there's even a chance he will overhear & stop talking about any aspect of his potty behavior. Once you stop giving him attention for the behavior, it will be less interesting to him.
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