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Potty Training Not Working? How to Deal With Setbacks

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Having some potty training problems? This happens to us all. Here are the common potty training setbacks and how you can deal with them.

Have you arrived at an impasse with potty training? Don’t fret; potty training problems and setbacks happen to every child and parent. Teaching your child how to use the toilet can sometimes feel like you are taking one step forward and five steps back. There are many reasons why this can happen, but you can fix them.

Let’s explore the most common potty training setbacks that can delay toilet training and how parents can overcome them. 

Toilet Training Dilemmas: Do They Happen to Every Child? 

While a few young children will take to potty training like a duck to water, for others, accidents are expected. Toilet training isn’t an instinct. Instead, it is a learned skill or habit. Many young children learn in spurts and need breaks between developing skills. This can lead to regression, meaning they forget how to use a potty. 

But, this doesn’t mean that potty training isn’t working. While it may feel frustrating for you as a parent, your child is simply coming up against common potty training problems. You can overcome these setbacks with practice and patience.  

Common Potty Training Setbacks 

Now that you know it’s not just you and your child experiencing potty training problems, let’s look at some of the common setbacks you can encounter when teaching your child how to use the toilet.

Lack of Readiness

Although you may be ready for your toddler to learn how to use the potty, that isn’t to say that they are. Lack of readiness is a common potty training setback many parents face. Yes, most young children will physically show readiness for potty training between 20 and 30 months. However, if your child isn’t showing any interest or desire to use a potty, this is their way of telling you it’s too soon. 

Too Distracted

Sometimes your potty training problems come down to your child being too distracted. If your toddler is engrossed in playing or is busy watching their favorite kids’ show, they may not realize they have an urge to use the potty. 

Think about it: up until now, your child hasn’t needed to plan ahead when nature starts calling. They could rely on their diapers and continue going about their daily routine without interruptions. If your child is wetting their diaper a lot while potty training, it could be a sign that they are simply too busy. 

Stress/ Fear

Stress and fear are two major emotions that can cause potty training to stall in its tracks. Young children can get stressed very quickly, especially in new situations. If your child has begun to regress in their potty training, ask yourself what has changed in your toddler’s life. Anything from a new babysitter, a change in daytime routine, or even family conflict can cause potty training problems. 

Yet, for some children, it is more than stress that keeps them from progressing in potty training. Many parents are surprised to learn that their toddlers can have a fear of toilets. Toddlers that begin using a potty chair can grow an aversion to toilets. Young children might find them intimating or could be scared of flushing noises and motions. 


A potty training myth that many parents believe is that if your child stays dry during the day, that should be the same at night. If your toddler is not staying dry at night, this is not a sign that potty training is not working. Bedwetting has a lot to do with your child’s body physiologically and genetics. There is no need for you to be concerned if your toddler is not staying dry during the night. As potty training problems go, this is only minor. 

Medical Reasons

Challenges that your toddler has when potty training may be caused by a medical reason. If your toddler is experiencing constant wetness, painful urination, constipation, or blood in their urine and stool, you need to talk to a pediatrician. 

Physical and non-physical problems could be the cause of potty training setbacks. Your pediatrician can guide you toward the medication or behavioral adjustments that will help get your child using the potty. 

Top Tips for Dealing with Potty Accidents

So, how can you best support your toddler when they have potty accidents and setbacks? The Vivvi recently spoke with Jennifer Gilette, Founder of The Loved Child, to learn more about how parents can take to help their little ones overcome potty training problems. 

Parent Body Language

“Our little ones are so good at reading how we’re really feeling about this challenging moment,” comments Jennifer Gilette. For that reason, you need to be mindful of your body language and your tone of voice. If you’re frustrated, your child will be able to understand this. 

Vivvi provides child care and early learning for children ages 0-5, with unrivaled flexibility that works for today’s families. Our inquiry-based curriculum is facilitated by warm, experienced teachers in bright, open spaces that let children make big connections to the growing world around them. Find your nearest Vivvi here.

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