If there is one trait that my son has developed from me, it's his need to follow the rules. Sure, he's a toddler so he might not always follow them, but overall, they are his guide.
As far back as a year and a half I noticed this in him. I'd tell him I was going to take a shower and that he should just sit in the living room and "be a good boy". I'd get out halfway through, panicked that he was getting himself into trouble, only to poke my head around the corner and find him sitting on the couch reading a book. Other times, I'd open the shower curtain to find him sitting in the bathroom with me reading. When he plays, if we give him guidelines of what is and isn't acceptable, he sticks to them. When we introduced the "Ok to Wake" clock (a genius product all parents should have), I was told it might take him a few tries to get adjusted. But at the first setting of it, I told him, "Make sure you stay in your bed until your clock turns green", and he did - and continues to.
I think he gets this instinct from me. I've always been a rule follower. Never one to be overly adventurous, or to go against what I've been told. I like rules and guidelines and it's clear that he does, too.
So over the weekend I decided to try an experiment and play on his instincts. Henry will be three in just a month (cue my tears) and I know he's smart enough to be potty trained. He just chooses not to be. So I took a different tactic.
I put him in "big boy underwear" and told him that he cannot pee or poop in his underwear.
That's all. We reminded him of this frequently. We didn't repeatedly ask him if he had to use the bathroom, we didn't take him to the bathroom every thirty minutes just to try. We simply told him he couldn't pee in his underwear and to let us know if he had to go to the bathroom.
And he did.
And each time he used it, he'd look at B and I and say "You're so proud of me". And we'd get excited and dance and reward him with Smarties (his candy of choice). We even took him out shopping and then to dinner on Saturday night, just putting a pull up on him, and let him know that he should tell us if he had to use the bathroom. I fully expected he'd have peed in his pullup by the time we got home 4 hours later, but he didn't. And instead went on the toilet as soon as we got home.
We had some false alarms where he'd tell us he had to go, only to sit for thirty seconds and want to get down, but I'd much rather go through those than have an accident.
It's only been three days now so I'm cautiously optimistic, especially once he goes back to daycare tomorrow. But I'm proud of him and excited for the possibility of being done with diapers. We haven't yet tackled the nighttime but one baby step at a time for us.