Ah, yes. Ye Olde Potty Chair. How well I remember thee. The times we hath lingered, lovingly, with a toddler's bum nestled safe in your grasp. There was Jo--gleefully showing off her "big girl" skills at 22 months. Atticus, unsure of the method but more than happy to have the mess somewhere other than his sweet cheeks right at two years. And there was Logan, desperate to be like his older siblings at friend Punky at a wee 19 months, asserting his need to be diaper free and loving it.
And now we have Oliver. Twenty-two months old. Diaper resistant. Slightly clued in to the results, although only toying with the notion of control.
I have been, historically, an early trainer of all things potty. I think that the window of opportunity for the easiest toilet training is before the typical toddlerhood defiance sets in. From the time my kiddos were showing obvious signs of awareness (such as hiding to poop) I've made a game out of ushering them to the "potty place" and helping them fit together the pieces that will eventually make up their understanding of why Momma and Daddy don't walk around in diapers. I realize that this is an incredibly anti-PC approach in this day and age. I'm o.k. with that. I don't have any feelings one way or another as to when, how or why other people choose to introduce their own children to the potty. This is just what works for me and mine.
At any rate, Oliver seems to be rushing headlong into the window of awareness that I've traditionally utilized to my benefit when toilet training. I find myself somewhat reluctant to commit this go 'round. I felt the same way with Logan; I was convinced that 19 mos. was far too early to ditch the diapers. Imagine my shock and surprise to find that my self-motivated little man was actually my easiest and fastest when it came to saying hello to underwear. Two weeks into the process, Logan was accident-free--both during the daytime and nighttime. Talk about ready! Maybe Oliver is more ready than I think, too. Time will tell.
Because I am revisiting my methods and also because I am often asked how I managed to toilet train my kids in a month or less and all before they hit their second birthdays, I offer up some tips here. Your mileage may vary, obviously:
1. Pick a day, and don't look back. Do not be wishy-washy. No "today we sit on the toilet, but tomorrow when I'm making dinner and distracted, it's o.k. to go wherever/whenever." If it sounds like this is a full-time job: you're right! It is. Clear your schedule as much as possible ... or be prepared for some messes on the go.
2. No diapers means no diapers. Or Pull-Ups. Or anything that remotely resembles a diaper or a Pull-Up during the daylight hours. Period. Not even when you're out and about. Not even when it's completely inconvenient. Seriously. I mean it. Never.
3. Nighttime training is a whole 'nother story. This is the time to draw the line and let those diapers squeak back in---but make it clear that these are "pj pants" or some other label that makes it clear that they are not the same as the thing they were using as a potty a few weeks ago. Change brands if you use disposables, and point out how they're different. Put them on just as your toddler crawls into bed, and take them off ASAP after wake-up.
4. When you're at home, the child is either naked from the waist down, wearing a long shirt with no bottoms or wearing the thinnest underwear you can find. There will be messes. Oh, yes, there will. I am a strong believer in what John Rosemond calls "Naked and $75." Feeling the uncomfortable sensation that occurs when you forget to use the potty is a huge motivator--something that is lost when a Pull-Up comes into play. I'd rather spend $75 on clean carpets than on Pull-Ups, anyway.
5. Encourage with goodies. I've always given my kiddos mini-M&Ms when they are successful on the potty. use whatever works with your child.
6. Kids have accidents. And that's all they are: accidents. Clean it up, calmly point out that they'd be cleaner/more comfortable/able to run around and play instead of standing in the tub/whatever, and move on. It's not about you, honey. It's about learning a new skill.
7. Never leave the house with less than four pairs of training pants and four changes of clothes. Because yep, you'll probably need them.
8. Enlist your other children in the cheer squad. This is the time to let them shout, sing and act crazy giddy. Because what's more exciting than a full potty????
9. Watch that child like a hawk. Some people escort their kiddos to the potty every hour and make them sit. I'm not a huge fan of that method because I feel like it rarely produces results. Personally, I just keep my toddler within arms reach and watch them for signs of impending potty--which, as I said earlier, I'm already fairly cued into. I've heard from some women that my method sounds fairly similar to ec-ing, only for toddlers. If you don't already know your child's signal, picking up a book on the topic may help.
10. Have fun. Really. Keeping your little one this close should be a joy, not a burden. If you look at it from this perspective, the time invested is well worth the effort.