Potty Training Setbacks


My 4.5 year old has recently started having accidents in preschool. These include both poop and pee. It doesn't seem to bother her. At first the school nurse would clean her up and send her back to class. She told us she pooped to go to the nurse because she liked her. So we took that option away and I would have to come pick her up when it happened. This was turning into a daily thing about 45 minutes after getting to school. The odd part is she would use the bathroom at school somedays prior to this. Her father is gone for work and she has recently had two friends move away in the last 2 weeks. I am at a loss on what to do.


Thanks for reaching out to Parent Guru. As you mentioned at the end of your question- the Dad being away and friends moving away may have contributed to her change in behavior. Sometimes a major change can cause this, but not to worry, this won't last forever. The good news is that she already knows how to use the toilet, she just needs a little reminding.

I would suggest that you not make a big deal out of the accidents by going to the preschool or asking why she wants to see the school nurse. Sometimes it becomes a bigger issue than need be because of the attention given "when she has an accident". You could say something like, "You know how to use the big girl potty, but lately you have forgotten, so I am going to teach you how to clean yourself up after an accident and send in some extra panties to school just in case." Give her the responsibility of cleaning out her underwear in the toilet, washing herself off etc and eventually she will stop having the accidents. It would be helpful if the school nurse was on the same page and let her clean herself up and then sent her back to the classroom, not making a big deal about it.

This is a very temporary set back, and I would keep the long view in mind. She won't be needing to clean her underwear out in middle school.

Hopefully, she will be back on track quickly. Either way, take heart, learning to use the toilet is just part of life and although accidents happen, a calm response to them is the best way to deal with this situation.

Alyson Hudson
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach

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