Potty training my two year old boy

Holy shnikies I kind of can't believe it but my little two year old boy is potty trained!  *dance party!*
I admit it wasn't all rainbows and sunshine, in fact I quit once. I'd love to share what happened so anyone else out there searching the pinterest sphere for potty training help like I did can know some of the good advice and not so good advice. I know every child is different so I'm not saying that what I did is exactly what everyone else should do. Learn from my mistakes!  Just take what you want from it and hopefully it's helpful in someway.

The story of my son's potty training was not an overnight solution, nor is it for many children. Don't get discouraged if your kid isn't the one potty trained overnight. Through patience persistence, we finally did it!

It began at Christmas last year.  My son was 21 months old.  While we were visiting family he directed my husband's cousin to put him on the potty.  (He had gone #2 in his diaper).  She set him on it with clothes on and he pretend wiped with toilet paper. She came out and said "I think someone's ready for potty training."

Really?! Is this how it works? They just are interested that's it. No more diapers to change?! At this point little Harrison could say words but was still forming a lot of his vocabulary. He could say more than a hundred words but no sentences.  I was worried to begin because I was afraid he wouldn't be able to communicate that he needed to go.

For months he had be coming to me for a diaper change. He'd go get a diaper and bring it to me, sure enough he was dirty.  This is a sign of readiness y'all.   

At this point in January, the only real signs of readiness were that he was interested in the potty and he wanted his diapers changed.  I thought I'd test drive it and go easy in.  

I bought him some pull ups and a Cars toilet seat that he thought was amazing. The first time I sat him on the toilet, I just told him..."squeeze!" Then I balled up my fists for him to copy me like he was trying to push.  Lo and behold he pooped!  It worked! That's all you have to do guys, the end. Sike! ;)

I didn't really try much after that point, he would just say "toilet" or "potty" in his own little language. Then he would run to the potty and go #2! Potty training done?! Nope!

I was scared to dive all in, worried that the pee thing would be a bigger issue.  Anybody else struggle with this part? I really didn't want to be cleaning up pee all day long. It happened...I'll get there.

So him telling me he had to poo went on for about a month.  We just stuck to pull ups at this point. I really didn't want to commit yet, worried he wasn't really ready.  I mean he hadn't even turned two yet.  In February I started to get serious about it. He was doing so well he must be ready to pee in there.

So I searched pinterest, read books, asked friends, and the most common thing I saw and heard was to let him be naked for 3 days and put him on the toilet every 20 minutes.  Totally backfired.

This is how it went:

Day 1 of the "be potty trained in 3 days by being naked" method went decently. He had accidents as to be expected, and after his nap he did really well. I thought we were in the clear!  

Day 2 went horrible.  He hated me putting him on the toilet at all! Every twenty minutes he was busy playing or eating.  He did NOT like being interrupted and therefore hated the toilet.  I tried singing a song, offering treats, anything. He didn't care.  I also found that because he was a boy that when he peed it would spray all over the place.  The claim in the naked method was that they will see and feel the pee and recognize the sensation of peeing with what they saw and felt. This has obviously worked for other people, but it wasn't working for Harrison. Boys don't have pee running down their legs like girls. In fact he wasn't wet at all.  All kinds of other things were wet including whatever toys he was playing with, my carpet, books, his blanket, whatever was in the path of the stream.  To him it didn't bother at all cause he didn't get wet.

Day 3 I gave up.  

We went back to diapers. After these 3 days he didn't even want to poo on the toilet anymore. That was over for the time being. We continued on as we had before Christmas time in diapers.  I think part of the problem for us was that he had already been going potty, just not pee. Maybe this method works for kids who are completely new to the potty, but Harrison had already been using it for a month.

Then in March he turned two. I decided we would try again.  I bought him some Thomas the train underwear (he's a huge fan).  It was one of his birthday presents which he opened and immediately wanted to wear. I put one on over his diaper and he felt pretty cool.  

My beautiful mom was in town. She raised seven children, she is awesome. I figured she's gotta have some good advice about what to do. She told me all of my siblings and I, including my brothers, were potty trained by the time we were two. She said she just put us in underwear and from that point on...no more diapers.  Cold turkey. She said we eventually figured out what to do. I should have asked more about her methods, but I thought I knew what I was doing.

I decided that we would officially start potty training again except this time, he would have on underwear. April 4th weekend, was General Conference for our church and we had a long weekend at home. I figured it the perfect time, I'll have him done in three days.  That day began and I put him in his big boy undies. Hooray! 

He was excited to wear them. We immediately went into the bathroom. I set him on the potty and said, "This is where we go potty."  Nothing happened that first time. In fact, the first day he didn't go in the toilet at all. All of his business got done right in his pants. 

When I saw that he was going pee, I would run pick him up and sit him on the toilet. But the damage had been done.  So I would take off his went undies and put on a dry pair. He went through 8 pairs of undies that day. What the?! This was better for me though than him being naked because it helped contain the mess.

After several days of this, I called my mom. I was frustrated of course.  I told her how I'd been doing it and she suggested another step. 

Instead of rushing him to the toilet and changing him, she suggested (as she did with all of us) that I just say to him with displeasure but not anger "Uh oh, you peed on the floor. We don't do that, we do it in the potty."  Then she said she would make us kids stay in our wet undies for a while (within reason, no poopy undies or to the point of a rash).  We didn't like the feeling of being wet of course, so that deterred us from having accidents. 

So I tried it.  I made him wear his wet undies. He didn't like it. We went from 8 accidents to one or two accidents a day. If he had an accident, I would make him keep on the wet undies until then next time he went in the potty, then he got to change. At this point I was still the one directing him to the toilet, he was not telling me that he had to go pee. Telling me he had to poo on the other hand, he got that. 

I wasn't giving rewards at this point either.  I was worried to give him rewards like a treat for going fearing that he would be stuck on this reward system forever.  I don't know where I came up with that. I changed my mind because I wanted him to TELL ME when he had to go and I wanted no more accidents. 

We spent 2 weeks of him having one or two accidents a day and us telling him when to go.  I started giving him a treat (like one fruit snack) when he would go and he got to put a sticker on a chart if he TOLD me he had to go.  This was working really well!!!
I downloaded this chart from a blog I found on pinterest. I'm sorry I can't find the original source! But there are lots of free downloads out there.

His jar of "poo treats" (he got a treat for #1 and #2)

We would go one day with no accidents and the next he would have one or two.  I was really tired of it and wanted it all to end.  

Two problems we were having at this point: 
1. Because he is a boy he would often pee in a stream over onto the floor while sitting face forward on the toilet. I got peed on several times, even though he was ON the potty.
2. He wasn't telling us he had to go and therefore had accidents.

I had been pointing his little boy part down into the toilet so he wouldn't pee on me or the floor. This worked sometimes, but usually I was cleaning up what he arced out of the toilet before I was able to point it down for him.  

Solution for problem #1: Turn him around backwards!! (Thank you Ashley!) This solved two things: he no longer peed on the floor in front of the toilet and he could pee on a toilet without the smaller toilet seat on top.  This meant he could pee on BIG toilets like public ones because he wasn't afraid of falling in.  He could brace himself on the seat and do his business. Then wash hands of course!!

Solution for problem #2: When they have an accident, eat the reward in front of them.  I read about people doing this, but hadn't tried yet.  This honestly was the reason he stopped having accidents. Leaving him wet kind of worked, but after a while he didn't care that he was wet. It no longer mattered to him.  Because he is so young, he needed an immediate consequence.  Because he got a treat when he did go, it was a perfect opposite for him to lose a treat when he didn't.  I would bring him over to his "poo treat" jar, pick out a treat, hold it out to him and say "You had an accident so mommy gets to eat your treat."  He would cry and protest.  I only had to do that 3 times and he got it.  

No more accidents!  It worked brilliantly. From start to finish it took about 3 weeks to get him to having no more accidents, and he just turned two! Now I'm not scared to leave the house because he doesn't have accidents anymore. He tells me when he has to go and even does it all by himself. He doesn't even want me to help. He'll hold his hand out and say "stop mommy!"

My talented husband built him a potty stool using this tutorial from Ana White. I added a little herringbone pattern to it. I'll post more about that later. This stool made it possible for him to climb up on the toilet all by himself. I can't believe my little boy is so grown up.  He still wears diapers for nap and bedtime, but he'll get there one day.

There are lots of ways to potty train. Remember every kid is different and some kids train really quickly, others may take a few weeks or months. But don't give up! Kudos to you moms out there for sticking to it! You can do it!

Do you have a two year old boy? Potty training can be done! Just don't give up.
Any other methods you've tried and loved?

*Update: Our son is now 2 and 1/2. He has done extremely well with really only a handful of accidents since the initial phase of potty training was over. The accidents were mostly when we were driving and couldn't get to a restroom in time.  On his own he just stopped asking for the treat and is proud to do it on his own. My husband has taught him to "pee like daddy" which he thinks is awesome. Before when he had to go in public I'd have to remove his shoes, pants, etc. It was a pain. He refused to go like a regular boy.  But after telling him he could pee like daddy, he was all about it! He's too short to pee standing up at a toilet, so if we're in public I just hold him up while he pees.  Works great for now! 

**Update #2: He is now 3 1/2. He was still wearing pull ups for sleeping up until about 3 months ago. One day I forgot to put on his pull up for his nap. He slept for 3 hours and didn't have an accident. I decided we would just stop putting them on and see what happened. He did great. He's wet the bed a couple times, but we have a waterproof sheet to protect the mattress. No big deal.