Today marked the 3rd day that I have been working with Meatball on potty training. He turns 2 on Tuesday. These days, a lot of people consider that early, especially for boys, but he has taken to it very well, at least the pee part. He understands how to sit on both the little potty and backwards on the toilet and intentionally pee, which is crucial to the process. It's still more parent-led at this point although sometimes he says "it's potty time" so we take him to go whenever he says that!
I'm really glad I started this with him. At the end of 3 days, while I don't consider him potty-trained because he isn't doing most of the initiating and he can't do the whole thing himself, I feel like he is on his way and we are far enough into it that I don't see us turning back. I don't think. Still haven't gotten poo in the pot yet but that will come soon. For some reason that seems to come later, especially with little boys. Go figure.
I would much rather have a newborn and a potty training toddler than a potty training toddler/preschooler and an active crawling infant, like I had last time with The Boy's earlier potty training endeavors and Meatball. Because you don't have to worry about a newborn getting in trouble, and a slightly younger toddler has slightly less nasty attitude.
Meatball still resists being taken to go to the bathroom, but he doesn't resist all the time, and when he needs to go, he does go once he gets there.
I'm very proud of him because he has been so cooperative, and I'm also proud of The Boy for relinquishing so much attention from me so that Meatball could really get this thing down.
So how did we do it? Well first, I put him in underpants and a smaller shirt. I was armed with many many pairs of underpants. And I took him to the bathroom pretty frequently, like every 20 minutes or so. I'd sit him down on Elmo potty with a book or an iPod, and we'd try, and then we'd get off the potty and leave. If he had an accident, I'd stop him and run him to the potty. We had a few hits the first day, and a lot of misses. Once I started to be able to read him, and he was starting to tell me, AND I was seeing that he was completely emptying his bladder, I backed off from taking him every 20 minutes.
I established the language--I would say "it's potty time" and I tried using a drum to make a bigger deal out of it but he didn't seem to care. Other kids might. Some people like timers that make noise. I always said pee-pee, or pee, and poo, because that's what The Boy calls it and I wanted to keep things consistent. I'd frequently use the specific terms rather than just saying "go potty" and I'd encourage him to push pee-pee out. Which he started to understand a little bit that first day and really caught onto the second day. The first day, he wasn't getting everything out every time, and would have frequent pees, accidents or not, but he did better with that after his nap the second day. And today, which was the third day, once he was changed into his underpants, he had no accidents at all, and even used the restroom at the pool.
The first day and the morning of the second day were really rough, particularly since on the second day he decided that 5:15 was wakeup time. Grumble. Musical Daddy sent me back to bed once he got up, and he was on potty patrol, but there were no hits there. Meatball took an early nap and I ran out to drop off some crafts at the hospital for a little girl who is about The Boy's age and a leukemia patient. When I came back, he was still napping. When he got up, he was dry, and we got started with a nice pee in the pot. One accident happened not long after, but once we were in the groove, I think just about every time I took him to go, he went.
Our first outing with Meatball in underpants (actually, the cloth trainers that have just a little bit more fabric and thicker legs) was to Panera for dinner followed by a playground visit, where I was scared of the port-a-potty. We took him at dinner to the real bathrooms but he didn't go. He had an accident, of both types, at the playground. I'm not sure if he'd have actually gone on the port-a-potty or not. We just missed it, and he just went without noticing.
Today, we went to an outdoor concert. Meatball stayed dry the WHOLE time without even going to the bathroom, despite my taking him on three agonizing trips to the port-a-potty. I say agonizing because those things are HOT. It was about 3 hours that he held it, which is amazing for a 2-year-old.
A slight diversion from the potty story: at this same event, The Boy managed to wander off. We were scared witless. There were plenty of people (including some of the performers) who knew The Boy and no one could find him. We even talked to the event coordinators and an announcement was made by one of the performers (who knows me well, by the way) that we were missing The Boy. I actually described him as wearing the wrong color shirt. I thought he was wearing his yellow Batman shirt, but actually, he was wearing the black one with the yellow on it. But he's probably the only kid his age wearing dark blue hearing aids. He was found playing in the fountain, having taken off his socks and shoes. And he has no concept of how terrifying the whole thing was for us. Nor does he have any sort of...you know...fear.
Anyhow, I'm pleased to report that Meatball spent the entire day without having had a single pee accident. He even napped dry again. He used the restroom at the pool, too!
The tricky part is, a newly potty training toddler is much more work than a toddler in diapers. It doesn't get easier right away to get the kid out of diapers, especially if you really commit to it and only use diapers during sleep. Any time you put a diaper back on a little one, you confuse them. I'm okay with explaining that diapers/pullups are for bedtime and are for just in case, but when your child is in underpants, it's on them to keep the underpants clean and dry and it's on you to coach them (and make sure you know where the bathrooms are!) until they assume more and more of the responsibility. You'll be responsible for their potty habits for years anyway, to some extent (you probably will have to remind your 5-year-old to go before leaving the house).
It is helpful that The Boy is potty-trained and provides a good example for Meatball. It is also helpful that Meatball hasn't developed enough attitude to provide too much resistance. We're changing a habit for him. And it seems to be working.