I'm in the process of getting my third son ready to make the transition from wearing nappies to wearing pants. You'd think I'd know exactly what I'm doing as it's my third time, but as all children are different, so is each experience.
I've always been quite relaxed with toilet training and prefer to take the childs' lead. My eldest son took to it quite quickly and loved to copy his daddy by standing on his little stool to wee in the toilet. It was great at home but not so great when we went out. I remember one thirty minute car journey where we went through four pairs of trousers and I realised that he wasn't quite ready and put him back into nappies. I know this is against what all the textbooks say, but it worked for us. About a month later he decided that he wanted to try again and this time it worked. Apart from the occasional accident (usually at night) we never looked back.
When it was time to do the same with my next boy, I stupidly assumed it would be just as easy as before. How wrong I was. He would wee on the toilet but absolutely refused to poo. He would hold it in to the point where he couldn't eat and he felt ill. He used to leak (sorry if you're eating) and I had no idea what to do with him. We tried everything that we could think of; we would let him watch us on the toilet, we discussed, begged, comforted and shouted at him; we bought books about what happens when you poo, and discussed it with the health visitor. We even let him poo in the garden. We were at our wits end. He started to smell and I was worried about him being teased because of this. Everywhere we went became stressful as we usually ended up in a big mess as bits would leak through.
The only thing that worked in the end was watching him every second, which was difficult as he would try to hide it, and as soon as he showed signs of holding it in, I would rush him to the toilet and make him sit there. He would sob and I would feel guilty, but he wasn't able to hold it in when sat on the toilet and it would all come out. It was terrible and I hoped I would never have to go through this again. He did overcome it eventually, though he is still a very private person when using the toilet.
I was prepared for anything with my youngest son, but was still a bit gutted when he started to withhold his poo. The difference this time was that my previous experience helped and I run him to the toilet as soon as he starts to hold it in. At two and a half he is getting much better thankfully.
But now I have a different problem. He stubbornly refuses to wear pants. He asks to use the toilet when at home and is well controlled and well aware of when he needs to go. He just won't wear pants. It's easy at home, I can just leave him with nothing on, but I can't exactly do that to go out. He also refuses to wear trousers with nothing on underneath so that's not an option.
We've had conversations around whether big boys wear nappies or pants, but he is adamant that he is still a baby who wears nappies (at any other time he insists that he's a big boy). My mother suggested that it could be that he sees his brothers wearing boxer shorts so he wants the same, so I tried that but it didn't work either. I bought him Thomas the Tank Engine pants as this is his favourite character, but it still didn't tempt him.
Experience tells me that I should just wait until he understands a little bit better , and to be honest, I'm not at all concerned. I just wonder why. What has caused him to not want to wear pants? What causes any issue that a child has with toileting? Is it something that we've said, or done? Something they've seen on TV? I'll probably never know.
All I do know is that children who are brought up in seemingly the same way, all have different issues. I may as well throw that textbook away.