Sister is freaking out - any potty-training tips?

My sister has recently has a new baby (yay), adding to her existing brood of one five year old and one two and a half year old.

The problem is with the 2.5 year old. Dustin (up until about two months before baby’s birth) was completely potty trained. Not anymore. He outright denies that he has to go when asked and then proceeds to pee/poop in his pants or on the floor or whatever.

She has tried “bribing” him “Sit on the potty and get a treat, go pee or poop and get a BIGGER treat,” and that doesn’t work. She doesn’t want to be punishing him, but she is losing patience.

Any words of wisdom?

Maybe he’s feeling displaced as the baby, and wants to regress a bit to get the kind of attention the new baby’s getting.

I say just put him back in diapers or pull-ups for now, to eliminate the stress on both him and mom. Make sure he gets a little extra attention at this time, if possible. After a while, he’ll probably get tired of the diapers and go back to being trained.

But making a big deal out of it and getting frustrated/angry will just cause bigger problems.


Yup - leave him alone. This is totally normal and paying excess attention to it is exactly what the kid wants (even though he can in no way verbalize this and is probably not even aware that this is his goal.) He’s jealous that the new baby has Mommy’s attention, and he still needs her. My advice is to pay as much attention to him as possible without even discussing the potty problem, let him sit in wet/soiled diapers as long as Mom can stand the stink (and obviously not long enough to develop a rash - you want him just uncomfortable enough to dislike having wet drawers), praise him when he’s The Big Boy and does use the potty, and involve him as much as you can in baby care (i.e. “Dustin, can you get Mommy a diaper for Baby? Baby’s too little to go on the potty like Big Boy Dustin can!”)

Good luck to all, and congrats on the new baby!


“No one ever starts college in diapers.” In other words, it WILL happen. Regressing is very common and normal and nothing to worry about. Making it a battle of wills or worrying overmuch about it is counterproductive. I am sure if she goes to any of the big parenting sites she’ll find a dozen parents talking about the same thing.

If he was already training before 2.5, he was ahead of the game. I agree that she should just put him back into diapers (at least for times when an accident would be a real hassle) and let it go for a while. He’ll let her know when he’s ready to try being a big boy again.

Do the diapers thing. Baby Babe I was about 3 when Baby Babe II was born. She regressed in a lot of things, including talking less (except to brag about her new sister) and waking up more often in the night. She will get better.

Try reminding Dusting that he’s going to have to learn to do this sort of thing really well, so he can teach it to the baby. Like LifeonWry said, they like to be the big boy or girl.

We really didn’t push our oldest, even before the baby was born. She figured out what to do eventually, and we avoided the big struggles.

I agree with not stressing about it - the more mommy stresses, the more kid knows that they have a big stick with which to beat mommy. :eek: Besides, development is seldom a straight forward track. All sorts of things set kids back, including just focusing on a different area of development. Two steps forward, one back - don’t panic if the one back is back across some arbitrary (but visible) line.

BTW, I recommend ‘Siblings Without Rivalry’ if there are new-baby-stresses going on. I found it very useful, and it turns out that my SIL relied on it heavily herself (SIL = “she whose capacity to keep her brood of five working seamlessly and without strife has always left me in awe”). Easy read, too.

You might also try making a game of it, at least for urinary activities. My son was slow to show an interest in such things but he did like playing “sink the Cheerios” (use your imagination) after I showed him how. What finally did the trick for us, though, was when I showed him how to “water the bushes” in the backyard. Of course, we have a farm way out in the boonies with no neighbors in visual range, so YMMV. :smiley: