Potty regression with covid

Son is 3 years 3 months. At 2 years 5 months was fully potty trained day and night for both bowels and urine. For approximately 6 months he would go to the bathroom on his own without rewards with very few accidents (even over night). Just before his daycare closed due to covid he started to have small accidents in his underwear. Maybe once a day at home and daycare. We are now 4 months Into this regression (pee only) where he has multiple accidents a day. Will pee in his underwear and shorts a little then sometimes go to the bathroom and other times refuse other times Full pee needing to change pants and underwear. We have had him checked and there is no medical cause for this regression but no matter what we do nothing seems to improve. We have tried incentives like toys or candy, praise, all of it. Any feedback is much appreciated as we don’t know where to go from here. We have not put him back in pull ups but at this point is this what we should do?

So sorry you’re going through this! It sounds like this regression is directly linked to the change in routine-maybe the stress that comes along with the lack of understanding yet knowing something strange is going on.

Honestly mama, your son is so young and if he fully potty trained once, he’ll do it again when his mind can handle it. I know it sucks, but maybe seeing how he handles pull ups with (or without) a “potty schedule” every half hour or so will just relieve some of the stress that you’re feeling yourself.

If you’re stressed, for sure your son can tell! And from my own experience, I know that kids DO NOT do well with potty training when there’s stress and pressure invoked-even if its unintentional.

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This is tough. Sometimes fully potty trained kids have more accidents later on because they become so invested in what they’re doing-playing, eating a snack etc. that they purposely hold it in so they don’t have to stop having fun. Could that be a possibility here? If so, a set schedule can be super helpful-maybe create a picture schedule with potty breaks placed in every 20-30 minutes.

If you have a sense that this regression is stress related due to COVID, maybe it’s best to put the pull ups on, continue taking him to the potty on a schedule, but don’t focus on the accidents at all and just gently praise him when he does use the potty successfully.

@Drkarenweiss do you have any suggestions?

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I have been hearing so much about potty regression these days! When kids are stressed out, they tend to regress a bit, and usually toilet training is a hard-hit area. With the closing of schools, daycare and offices, your son’s routine has probably been upended, and he definitely picks up on your stress and feelings about what’s going on. Know that this is really normal, and that lots of toilet-trained kids are having accidents now too. Continue to give lots of cuddles, snuggles and reassurance, and consider talking to him directly (if you haven’t already) about his thoughts and feelings about what’s been going on. He probably understands some of what’s happening but misunderstands or is confused about other parts. You can get some good books/materials to help talk about the feelings about what’s been going on- two books I like are “Someday Soon” and “What’s the Thing with quarantine?” An excellent video is “I’m tired of the virus!” Linked here: I'm Tired of the Virus! - YouTube (Watch/ read before you show it to him to make sure it meets his developmental level.)
Also, try to find opportunities to help him feel in control of his life, since so much right now is out of his control. Let him pick out his own clothes, or choose what he wants for lunch. (Giving choices makes this easier for you.) And remember- he’s doing his best! This too will pass.
Good luck!


that video is great! thanks for the suggestion :blush:

How is he doing at night? Still holding it, with very few accidents? How do you react when he has his accidents? Is there a lot of attention being paid to him when he does it? (Positive or negative). How does he react? Is he actual upset or embarrassed, or flippant and almost amused by it? I ask all of this because A) he hasn’t forgotten what to do. Putting a pull up on him, I think, will result in sending a couple messages. You don’t trust him to be responsible for something he has been doing for 6 months, and after that long does he even remember diapers? And after 6 months of expecting him to go in a toilet, you are suddenly changing the rules again, how confusing! B) my son would do this, he didn’t grow out of it until he was 3.5. He was doing it for attention, and would excitedly tell me when he had an accident, there was no embarrassment involved. The less I reacted, or the less attention I gave him when it happened, the less he did it. If he’s still staying dry through the night I think it’s a behavior/ control issue, not a physical or mental thing. I would definitely talk to him, and remind him he is safe, and loved, and try the timed potty intervals. And start praising him over things not potty related, take some of the pressure off.


you are right that potty trained kids haven’t necessarily forgotten what to do, and it definitely sound like in your situation you knew your son “knew better” and could control it. Is that the same thing as when anxiety may be a strong element in why this is happening?

I love your suggestion of praising him for non-potty related things to take the focus off this area