Why is my potty trained kid still having accidents?

Why is my potty trained kid still having accidents?

You've run through the basics a few time, but your child still seems to be having potty training backslides. Is it out of defiance or is there a more serious cause? Read more to find out why it happens and how to cope with it.

potty training backslides

Find out why potty training backslides happen and how to cope with them!

Just when you think you and your child have conquered the potty training milestone, the accidents begin to happen…on a regular basis. You find you are spending more time changing their clothes than you did diapers. What’s going on? What should you do?

The reasons for potty training backslides

Potty training backslides are a common occurrence in toddlers and preschoolers, and it generally means to fall backwards or have a lapse. These backsliding incidents aren’t the result of potty training too soon or too late. They’re not a conscious decision on the part of your child to rebel or disobey. No, the reasons for potty training backslides are usually the result of one of the following:

Sudden illness

When a child who is recently potty trained becomes ill, they often revert back to their old ways, because they are too sick to get out of bed, or because they simply feel too bad to get to the bathroom.

Seeking attention

Do you give your child more attention (good or bad) when he has an accident vs if he has a success? Turn the tables. Clean up accidents unemotionally and quickly; while providing lots of praise, hugs and attention for every potty visit.

New environment

The unfamiliarity is often too much of an adjustment for a toddler. Children look for old habits and old ways to pacify themselves while they adjust to their new surroundings. Potty training backslide is a classic solution for kids who are feeling out of place.

New baby

A new baby in the house can cause feelings of jealousy, uncertainty and even fear. These feelings will sometimes cause a toddler or preschooler to revert back to being a baby in an effort to get the same type and amount of attention their new sibling is receiving.


If you and your spouse divorce, the effects of this are traumatic for a little one. To lose their bathroom skills is common. They aren’t doing it for attention, usually, but rather out of fear and anxiety. They don’t understand the complexity of the situation, so they just go in to autopilot mode and do what is most familiar to them.

Medical problems

While rare, it is possible. Some children, who are potty trained, hold their pee in longer than they would if they were still in diapers. This can sometimes cause urinary tract infections, which can directly unable them to hold in urine. The result? Potty training backslides.


What’s a mum to do about these potty accidents

When, or if your child experiences an extended period (more than one accident a day for more than two or three days consecutively) of backsliding in their potty training, the first thing you need to do is figure out why. You can’t really do anything to fix the situation until you know what you’re working with.


The next thing you need to do is assure your child that you are not mad, angry or disappointed in them. You need to let them know that while they need to get back on track, you understand that they don’t feel well, or are upset or scared. You want to make it very clear that you are there to help them not feel this way anymore.

While your assurance and empathy are important, it is equally important that you don’t give the impression that you have given up on them or that you believe they have failed. It may mean doing more laundry or pulling out the plastic pants, but don’t take them out of their ‘undies.’ To do so is to say they have failed or that you are happy with their decision to revert back to their old ways.

Share with us stories about how you coped with potty training backslides with your children!

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Written by

Darla Noble

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