It's totally not my thing to talk about my kids and their potty training (learning, etc...whatever you want to call it). I don't particularly enjoy facebook status updates about other peoples' kids and what they've done in the toilet...so I don't share about mine.
However, I do want to talk about the process a bit for sake of keeping record (as that is the primary reason I blog) and for those wondering what it's like for others. Especially in difficult situations like ours.
A tiny bit of back story- Malakai showed interest in going potty at 18 months. (Desmond is doing the same). Unfortunately he had a hernia and we had to quit until after his surgery to correct it 5 months later. We tried again after he turned 2 but he just wasn't interested, and our pediatrician advised us that if he wasn't able to stay dry through nap time, that he wasn't physically ready anyhow. She also said that if he didn't care about being clean, we'd also be wasting our time. 2 strikes against us, so we waited.
Once Kai turned 3 we tried several times but backed off once it became a power struggle, and it always did. We did charts with stickers and treats for using the toilet. None of it lasted for more than a week. He filled up a chart with stickers for using the toilet while still in pull-ups but it went nowhere after that.
Then we went straight to underwear a few times and he did better, but the power struggle would still come into play. Another big issue is that he wouldn't want to stop playing to go potty. We tried reminders and songs and setting timers and none of it helped for long enough to matter.
I listened to an MP3 audio at the height of my frustration a couple months ago, by Love and Logic. It was only $5 and I highly recommend it. Way quicker than reading a whole book and more realistic and helpful than any blogger who promises you can train your kiddo in a weekend.
I learned to back off, use empathy when he had accidents, and let him be in control of the process. I took deep breaths through some really frustrating accidents and setbacks and loved him no matter how badly I wanted to stop spending money on pull-ups... and he did it. He owned it and is doing so great. When he did have accidents during that time we'd just simply say "what a bummer, you can help me clean that up and we can try again." or "that's too bad, maybe you aren't quite ready for underwear yet, and that's okay." Those phrases seemed to motivate him more, especially when the alternative was having to wear pull-ups during the day (he didn't always care about wearing pull-ups but finally grew to prefer underwear).
He still needs an occasional reminder or incentive, but 90% of the time he manages it himself with no problems. For incentives, I don't mean a treat or a sticker, but just simple things like "I'll get out the markers after you take a potty break!" or let's pause your show and you can finish after you go potty." Works way better than chocolate chips for us.
Next is tackling staying dry overnight. He's in pull-ups at night, even though he wants to be in underwear, because I know he's not physically ready. I let him know that he can get up to go potty any time after bed and that once he wakes up with a dry pull-up in the morning he can wear underwear the next night.
So, if you find yourself in a rut with potty training, back off...let go of control and let your kiddo show you what he/she is capable of!