4-years-old crying potty training regression

4-Year-Old Potty Training Regression! (Day? Night? Or Both?)

You don’t expect a 4-years-old potty trained child to start peeing in the pants again. You think that they are now grown up enough to use the toilet every single time. But let me tell you that 4-years-old potty training regression is quite normal. Not all, but many parents go through this phase. 

Let’s discuss regression, the reasons for a 4-years-old potty training regression, and the solution. Moreover, we will discuss what will happen if it happens only during the day or night. 

What is potty training regression?

Look! A few potty accidents are normal. For example, if your preschooler wetted her pants once in a while, it’s okay. The reason can be as simple as “she was trying to hold it for too long.” But if your 4-years-old is continuously having accidents one after another, it is potty training regression. 

Is it normal for a 4-year-old to regress in potty training? Yes, it is normal. But as a parent, you have to figure out the reason and try to solve the problem. But never think of returning to diapers or pull-ups for some time. 

Moreover, if your little one is having accidents only during one part of the day, either during the daytime or nighttime, then it’s not regression. The reason should be simple. We’ll talk in detail later in this article. 

Why is your 4-year-old having potty accidents again?

So what are the possible reasons behind your four years old wetting her pants?

“Note that most older (potty trained) kids go through a regression because of stress or a big change in their environment. They can also forget to use the toilet for little reasons, but “a big change” is the most common reason.”

Following are the possible reasons why your 4-years-old might be regressing in potty training or just having accidents.

1- The start of school:

Most kids start preschool or kindergarten between the ages of 3-5. If your child has just started going to school, there are chances that she will revert to the old habits simply because of stress. 

With all the crying and refusing to leave mommy, potty training regression will only add to the stress. (for you and your child; both).

If this is your case, make sure to make your child comfortable in school before leaving. 

Leave the child for just 5-10 minutes at first. Gradually increase the time. Let your child become familiar with the school staff, and then you can leave her at school. 

It is also possible that your little one had to go to the toilet, but she was shy and couldn’t tell the staff; then she had an accident. 

You must introduce the child to the person who will take the kid to the toilet.

“She is ms. Sofie, you can tell her when you need to use the restroom.”

Give your little one some time and be with her. 

4-years-old in school

Your 4-years-old may also get potty accidents at home when the start of preschool. It’s natural. 

Make sure to get back to the basics of potty training—the reward for a successful toilet visit. Do not yell for an accident; instead, engage her in cleaning and talk to her. Ask her why she is not going to the toilet. 

Your child already knows how to use the toilet, but she is stressed; do not add up to the stress by pressurizing her. 

“The start of preschool was our reason for potty training regression. My daughter, who learned to use the toilet within a couple of days, started to wet her pants when she started going to school. Even when I thought she was comfortable in her school. 

2- The start homework:

Many preschools do not give homework to kids, but once they start kindergarten, their kids will be assigned tasks. 

This can cause your little one to be stressed and cause potty training regression. 

3- Something new or unwanted:

Most of the time, potty training regression in fully potty trained kids, especially older ones, is due to a changed or unwanted environment. 

Just like the start of school or the beginning of homework, your little one may become stressed because of unfamiliar situations. 

For example, a new baby, a new babysitter, guests at home, or moving to a new house. 

In these cases, give her attention and talk to her. Give her time to adjust while rewarding successful toilet visits. 

4- Over tiredness:

Over-tiredness; not getting enough sleep or rest is another stress for the kid. She may become aggressive or lazy.

Your little one may not want to go to the toilet, or she may just lose control over her bladder. 

However, this problem can cause temporary accidents but not permanent potty training regression that needs a lot of work. 

5- Too much water intake:

Another “non-regression” reason for your preschooler having accidents:

Too much water intake at once may make the child go to the toilet several times. Say, she went once but had to go again within 10 minutes, and she doesn’t think, “I just went,” and then urinated in her trousers. 

If it happens once in a while, it should be fine. But peeing in the pants often will make your child a little more comfortable, eventually leading to potty training regression. 

6- Medical problem:

Some medical problems like Urinary tract infections or overactive bladder can cause your kid to have potty accidents. 

If your child is urinating in small amounts several times or if she is in pain, it’s best to see a doctor as soon as possible. 

4-year-old having accidents during the day:

Now let’s talk about only the daytime. If your 4-years-old is regressing in potty training during the day only, what could be the reasons behind it? 

Again! “Note that if your 4-year-old is having accidents during only one part of the day; either it’s daytime or nighttime, it’s unlikely to be a potty training regression. Instead, there should be a simple reason behind it. 

If she has accidents throughout the day and night, it is regression or an underlying medical condition. 

1- Busy playing:

Day-time accidents mostly happen because the child forgets to go to the toilet. It’s not usually potty training regression but a behavior issue. 

Many kids will try to hold it as long as they can while playing. But, of course, who wants to skip having fun in the toilet?

So number one reason is that your 4 years old is too busy playing that she holds it for longer than she should and eventually have an accident. 

2- Bathroom seems like work:

The other version of “busy playing.” Some (I should say “many”) kids take bathroom visits as work. They will keep holding it until they are about to have an accident. 

Can you relate? 

This can be a reason for potty accidents. If you don’t control this behavior with the first accident (preferably before an accident), you are inviting the “regression.” 

3- Wants attention:

Some kids do this on purpose, sometimes to seek attention. Especially those very mischievous kids will try to annoy the parents by doing this, or they find it a way to protest against something. 

This reason is not regression; it’s a behavior issue and needs attention. 

4- too much liquid at once:

What does your child take as a snack? Did he drink a whole bottle of juice?

Sometimes kids take drinking water as a fun activity, especially when they have easy access to the water source (cooler or dispenser, whatever). 

Pouring water in the glass is fun for little ones. They will just keep pouring and drinking. 

What happens after? Accident! 

4-years-old drinking water

4-year-old potty training regression at night:

If your 4-year-old is wetting the bed at night again, here are the possible reasons behind it. 

1- too much water intake before bed

In my article about nighttime potty training for 4-year-olds, I mentioned that you should limit the water intake for at least 3-4 hours before bed. 

Check if your little one is escaping to drink some water before bed. Many kids do this.

Too much water before bed or not having a toilet break before going to sleep will cause an accident at night. 

2- She is Too sleepy:

If your 4-years-old is not getting enough sleep, she will become overtired or will sleep so deeply that they will be unable to get up for a bathroom break. 

4-year-olds need at least 10-12 hours of sleep every day. If your little one is very active, she needs 12 hours of sleep. Otherwise, she will be overtired. 

3- Too tired to get up:

Do you feel like peeing at night, and you get up immediately to use the toilet? No, you will go back to sleep or try to hold it for as long as possible. 

It’s not easy to get up for the toilet. So your little one might be having the same problem. But she can’t hold it overnight if she has to go. 

4- Not fully potty trained:

If you recently potty trained your 4-years-old, she might not be fully potty trained yet. 

Here’s how to potty train your 4-years-old during the night.

How to reverse the preschooler potty training regression?

Potty training regression is easily reversible because your little one will soon adjust to the new situation. But you can’t just let her keep having accidents; of course, you must do something to stop it. 

“Note that if your little one is stressed, your first priority is to soothe her and give her attention. Once your kid’s stress is over, she’ll easily stop having accidents.”

Now, what do you have to do to stop the accidents? 

The first step is to talk to your child about what’s happening and how it is wrong. Ask her why she is not making it to the toilet. Your little one will probably understand, and you can figure out how to go. 

You can set a reward for not having an accident for a week. 

1- Engage in cleaning: 

Engage your child in cleaning, so she understands what she did was wrong. Then, 4-year-olds can understand the consequences. 

Engaging in cleaning may work as a consequence “if I had an accident, I have to clean it with mommy.”

You are there with your child, so this is not a punishment. You can talk to her about how dirty it is while cleaning. 

2- Rewards:

Use rewards for successful toilet visits. For example, give your little one a beautiful sticker or slime to play with. So she becomes motivated to go to the toilet again.

Do it for a couple of days until she stops having accidents. 

3- Talk to the child:

4-year-olds are old enough to understand the situation. Talk to her about what she is supposed to do when she needs to go to the toilet. 

Tell her that she used to wear diapers when she was tiny, then she grew big and started using the toilet.

Talking (and counseling) is especially helpful if your little one is trying to hold it for so long and has accidents. 

mom talking to 4-yerars-old

4- Limit water intake during the night:

If your child is having potty accidents during the night only, limiting water intake 3-4 hours before bed should be very helpful. 

4-year-olds do not need a nighttime toilet break until their bladder is full. 

5- Talk to the doctor

If you suspect a UTI or any other condition, please talk to the doctor. 

6- Do not punish or yell at them:

Punishing the child or yelling at them for potty accidents will make your kid stressed. As I said earlier, stress is the most common cause of potty training regression in older kids. 

So putting your child under stress by yelling at them will only cause more accidents. 

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosures here.

8- Potty Books:

Get your child some potty books to make them interested in using the toilet once again. 

Books like “let’s go to the potty” or “Big Girls Use the Potty” can help your child to regain interest in using the toilet. 

9- Potty Watch or a new potty seat:

Getting something new always excites the kids. Try getting her a potty watch or a new and bigger potty seat. She will want to use the toilet more often.

10- Do not return to diapers or pull-ups

Do not return to diapers or pull-ups in case of potty training regression. It’s just a phase that will pass. 

Sometimes, parents put on pull-ups for their kids to avoid bathroom breaks during traveling or any other event, which may also cause potty training regression. 

11- Give more time:

Give your little one some time to adjust to the new situation. Meanwhile, get back to the basics of potty training. Talk to the child and reward them for using the toilet. 

12- Avoid pushing them to the toilet:

Do not push your child to the bathroom if they don’t want to go. Pushing them will make them hate that place. Instead, use fun games or rewards to make them visit the toilet. 

Bottom line:

If your 4-year-old is having potty accidents after being fully potty trained, it’s potty training regression or a medical condition. The most common reason behind this regression is stress or a significant environmental change. Give you little one time to adjust and be with her. Use rewards and incentives to use the toilet and avoid punishment. 

Please consult the doctor if you suspect a medical condition like UTI or overactive bladder. 

However, if your 4-year-old are having accidents only during the day or night, it’s unlikely to be a regression but any other simple reason. The most common reason is that the child is trying to hold the urine for too long and is now having accidents. Talking and rewarding can be beneficial for re-potty training kids at this age.

Similar Posts