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Dr Catherine
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2-4 years

My son is 2.5 years old and refuses to sit on the potty or toilet. I started to toilet train him at 18 months and he would tell me if he needed to go to pee or poo and I would get him to try potty and he’d happily sit and try. But there were some stressful events in the family which affected him and I stopped the toilet training. About two months ago I started to toilet train him again and he wants nothing to do with

It is not unusual for children to experience regression during toilet training; they may start experiencing regular accidents, refuse to use the toilet or ask to be put back into nappies. When young children experience stress in their lives they often regress back to a point in their development where they felt confident and secure or regress back to a behaviour that calls for greater parental involvement or support. It is their way of saying, “I need you” without being able to verbalise this. For most young children regression in skills does not last very long and they are back on track within a matter of days or weeks. Once your son is feeling more settled and confident, and if there are no other problems, then it is time to recommence training. Explain to him that it is time to start using the potty or toilet again. Depending on how independent he was with his toileting skills prior to the point of regression you may only need to offer a few friendly reminders here and there and he will be back on track within a few days or weeks. For some children you may find that you need to return to the more structured and guided approach that you adopted in the early days of training. Continue to praise his successes and remember to treat accidents lightly, no matter how frustrating this may be. If his regression continues for a month or more, it may be because he actually was not quite ready to be trained in the first place. All the best! Kind Regards, Dr Cathrine