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Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers/3.5yr old concerns with potty training regression and attitude


My oldest daughter will be 4 years old in 3 months. She was potty trained quite easily at 2.5 yrs old soon after her sister was born. She had a regression about 4 months ago that lasted 4-6 weeks, and now has regressed again. Please tell me how to proceed....
Someday she stays dry others she pees herself 5-7 times a day. (3-4 times a week). Her reasoning is that she didn't have time to get to the washroom. Meanwhile she didn't even try. She was playing with me on the floor and said "mom, sorry I just peed in my underwear right now" and didn't even try to get up and make it to the washroom. Another time she said "it's ok that I peed in my PJs because now it's time to go get dressed for the day". She also was reading a book about potty traini g and pointed to a very obviously happy girl and said "she's so happy because she peed in her undwear."
I at first tried diciplining with no result and I read that was bad to do. So now I make her clean up and get changed and tell her I want her to try next time. She says with a smile "ok mommy. I promise
I will try next time ok?"

Not sure how to proceed. Can't think of anything in her life that has changed except preschool twice a week started in September. ? Most of the time she is dry when I pick her up. There have been a few accidents though

Also, if
I can ask another question, she does NOT listen to me. She never has no matter what I say or do. We even do time outs. How can I get her to listen to me when I tell her "go get ready for the bath" or "stop picking on your sister"??  She listens better to her dad though.

Hello Mandy,

I would suggest you not talk to her about it. That is, when she pees her pants, you continue to have her get changed and clean up, but don't ask her to try next time. In fact, don't say anything about soiling her clothes and trying to remember to go to potty. However, you should be sure that your face, gestures, or tone do not indicate you are happy. Your facial expression should indicate that you are not necessarily pleased, although you should not project anger either.
Many three year olds these days are not completely potty trained. But I think, in general, it is best not to make a big deal out of it. You have to avoid reinforcing her continuing to wet her pants.
As for her noncompliance with you. Apparently a pattern has been established in your relationship with her. Young children often listen to their dads better because of the way fathers go about telling kids what to do. Dads tend to be no nonsense when it comes to "requests" or commands. Children quickly learn that with dads there are consequences -- and they will follow through on consequences. Sometimes moms are a little more lenient and kids figure this out, too.
So, maybe you can learn something from the "dad approach." Here's the way you can handle a command:
 1. Tell her: "I want you to get ready for your bath"
 2. If she does not comply in a reasonable amount of time #within a minute, say#, then you say: "I need you to get ready for your bath now. If you are not ready for your bath in one minute, then you are to go directly to bed after your bath and there will be no story read to you tonight. If you get ready for your bath in one minute, then I will read to you in bed tonight."
 3. If she complies in the allotted time, you say: "Great! You're ready for your bath. I will read a story to you tonight." If she does not comply in that time: "I'm sorry, you didn't
get ready for your bath in time. There will be story tonight. You can try again tomorrow night."
 4. Don't give in -- no matter what.

 Try this approach #which can be adapted to almost any situation in which you want compliance# and see how it works. Let me know if you have questions.


James Windell  


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James Windell


I can answer questions related to normal child development, disturbed behavior and how to provide appropriate guidance and discipline.


I've been a clinical psychologist in a juvenile court, worked in school settings, been a child psychotherapist in a private psychiatric clinic and consulted with schools, courts, hospitals and daycare centers.

American Psychological Association
Michigan Psychological Association

I have been a columnist with the Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI) for 21 years writing a weekly column called Coping With Kids, which is also published weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been a mental health columnist with the Detroit Free Press and a columnist for Working Mother Magazine. In addition, I have published articles in professional journals. I have published 16 books, among them are "8 Weeks to a Well-Behaved Child" (IDG Books), "Discipline: A Sourcebook of 50 Failsafe Techniques for Parents" (IDG Books); "Children Who Say No When You Want Them to Say Yes" (IDG Books), "What You Need to Know About Ritalin" (Bantam Books) "6 Steps to an Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers" (John Wiley & Sons), "The Fatherstyle Advantage" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) and "Defusing High Conflict Divorce" (Impact Publishers). My latest parenting book (2012) is "The Everything Child Psychology and Development Book." Articles about my work with parents has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Sun Times, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. My website at includes more information about me, my books and includes many columns I've written.

B.A. in Psychology from Wayne State University
M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University

Awards and Honors
Best Educational Program by Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association (National award for the development of a parent training program for parents of delinquent teenagers. Beth Clark Service Award from the Michigan Psychological Association.

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