I have some experience with potty training children. I'd have 3 year old students who weren't showing much interest at home and we'd tell their parents to send them in big kid underpants with a few changes of clothes and that we'd take care of it. One of my assistants was wonderful with making sure the children went often and within a week, they'd be diaper free at home as well as at school. The parents would be amazed but we'd tell them it was just because the kids are in an environment where all of their peers are using the potty. That alone is a motivator. Add pleasing their teachers to the mix and it is a recipe for success. It always made me wonder, how would I get my own children to use the potty? That's when I decided that from as early as possible, we'd include Ayden in our own bathroom experiences.
We have always taken him with us, let him watch us go and wipe, have him help us flush, talk very openly about what it is where it's going and such in a very matter of fact, "this is SOOO normal" tone. We do the same thing when we change his diaper. I read somewhere once that when caregivers make a big deal about how "STINKY!" or "YUCKY!" A child's diaper is, it is what causes children to seek privacy for #2 time and is possibly what makes them reluctant to go #2 in the potty with you standing watch. I babysat a little girl one summer who would ask for a pull up, put it on herself then close herself in the pantry while she did her business. It makes me wonder if this was the case for her...
I'm not sure that the article I read was research based by it just made sense to me. I sent it to David and he agreed so we decided that no matter how gnarly the diaper, we had to maintain the notion that everybody poops and it is no big deal. So far so good.
Another thing we have tried to do is give Ayden the words for the action. If we notice that he has his poop face on we say, "You are pooping." And we do the same for pee. He will now pat his diaper and say, "Poop-ie" or "pee-pee" while he does it.
That was our first indicator that he may be ready for us to start introducing his own little potty. He isn't showing all the signs of readiness, and we wouldn't expect him to at 17 months. We want this to be a slow process while we follow his lead. We set up his little potty and told him what it was. He immediately understood. He liked sitting on it but never did his business. He'd pee on the floor during diaper free time and shake his hand at it saying,"No no no." He is starting to understand but that doesn't mean he is physically capable of knowing when it's coming and making it to his potty in time. We are in no hurry but as with every new development, it is fun to watch him piece the puzzle together.
This morning a pretty big piece fell into place. Ayden actually peed in the potty! He told me he wanted to use it. I took off his diaper, he sat, got right back up, walked over to the big potty and flushed it. I thought, "well, it's a start..." That's when he looked down and started peeing on the rug. I quickly moved him to the potty and he finished going in there. I threw a small party for him right there in the bathroom during which he was smiling and clapping for himself. We aren't expecting him to start using it all the time now or anything, but it definitely got him one step closer! I have heard some parents refer to this process as "potty learning" instead of potty training and I feel like it better describes what happens. It can start early and takes time. Children have to learn the sensations, the routine, and the reasons behind it. As with every other skill they learn, they have to put a lot of puzzle pieces together before they can see the whole picture.
Even if it takes another year and a half before Ayden is out of diapers, it feels good knowing we have done our part. We've provided the potty, the model and the encouragement. The rest is up to him!