Category Archives: Toddler

More unformed thoughts on those rough times (3 1/2-year-olds)

So I've been thinking a lot about this 3 1/2-year-old thing. And how it really seems to me like all the "difficult" stages seem to be at times that double: 4 months, 9 months, 18 months, 3 1/2 years, 7 years, 14 years. I don't know if that means anything, except that if you're 28 maybe you're having a tough time, too. And 56 might also be rough…

Anyway, it seems like the difficulties start out more weighted toward the physical but become progressively more emotional as the people get older. So that first rough stage at 4 months is mostly about being fussy and not being able to sleep. Then at 9 months it's not sleeping but more generalized crankiness. 1 months seems to be a tie between physical and emotional distress, and then by 3 1/2 it really seems to be mostly emotional (even if all of this is caused by some physical process of development in the brain).

It feels to me, from being on the outside of it, that the developmental spurt that's happening somehow seems to remove the protective emotional layers somehow, so that all the person's emotions are right there, waiting to bubble over at any second. The person on the inside can't process or deal with or control them. Which is why they get stuck in a "Pick me up!! Put me down!!" loop. It's like they have an exposed nerve, and any time anything brushes against it they just go off from the overload.

I've noticed that when I'm feeling emotionally fried, my child being in one of these emotional wack-out times just sets me off, too. But when I'm on an even keel, my response just instinctively seems to be more one of "Oh you poor sweet little thing. Let me give you a hug."

Does this resonate with anyone? About any of the stages? About yourself? Or do you think there's something different or more going on?

Q&A: One-year-old not sleeping

Once again, when it rains it pours. A grand cascade of 5 emails, and one real-life friend, in the past week asking what the heck is going on with birthday babies. Let me write you a composite sketch of the emails:

“OMG Help! We made it through that !@#$% 9-month sleep regression, and my baby was only waking up once per night (which, believe me, was a miracle) by 11 months. But my baby just had a birthday and is now waking up 4 times a night again. Help me! What am I doing wrong? Why does my baby hate me? Is this ever going to end?”

In the order in which the questions were asked:

You’re not doing anything wrong. Your baby doesn’t hate you. Yes, it will end.

Your baby is ramping up for the 55-week developmental spurt. I forget what happens at this spurt, and my Wonder Weeks is packed in a box while I paint my living room, so I can’t look it up. But there’s a great summary here.

It’s going to be over in a couple of weeks, and then your baby will go back to sleeping at least as well as before, but maybe even better.

Sympathy, commiseration, anecdotes (either of your kids or of things you did because this regression threw you for such a loop), or any other musings welcome.

Here’s my musing: I thought it was so bizarre to get to one year, and then feel like my child was in such flux. It made 365 days seem completely arbitrary. You think, when your baby’s an infant, that a year actually means something. To me it just seems like a big period of flux in all sorts of areas.

For those of you who have or are having or considering second children

So a few more questions came in over the last week or so about second children. A couple of them from people who were either newly pregnant with the second or about to give birth, and were wondering if they were setting themselves up for disaster. The real concern for both those writers seemed to be the overwhelming sense of guilt at breaking up the little party the first child had, combined with the worry that they'd never be able to love the second child the way they loved the first.

I don't know that I have so much to offer here. I definitely felt both those feelings when I was having my second son. And I think it's a mistake to resort to the old "a sibling is the best gift you can give" line to comfort yourself, even if you do believe it. (I do for myself, because my relationship with my brother is the most important relationship I've had, aside from the one with my children.) Because even as wonderful as it is to have a sibling, there is loss for the older child. If nothing else, there's loss of having all the focus (which, again, could also be a good thing), but there's loss of the immediacy and the cocoon.

Does the good outweigh the bad? For my kids, yes. But it's important to acknowledge for yourself that it's not all happiness all the time. Allow yourself to feel a little sad about it, even as you look forward to the baby.

Can I ask a favor? If there's anyone who truly doesn't love their second (or later) child as much as the first, could you comment on it anonymously? I've never heard of it happening, but of course it's something you could never say in public. So if there is someone, please put it here anonymously, and we'll see if it's a realistic fear, or if loving the second one as much as the first is just something you can't imagine until you're there.

The other questions I got were from a very new mom-of-two and one about to pop any second now, who were really terrified of what was going to happen when their help (spouses and family) were gone and they had to be alone with the two kids. The spacing was right around 2 years for both of these moms, and the primary concern was how to keep the older one calm and happy while they got the baby to sleep. And yeah, that's a concern, because a 2-year-old's needs are very immediate, as are an infant's, so it could turn into a donnybrook easily.

Mine were 3 years apart, so my older one watched a lot of Bob the Builder DVDs while I was getting the little one down to sleep in those early days. For those of you with kids spaced closer than 2 1/2 years apart, how did you keep the older one chill while you were getting the little one to sleep? Any and all suggestions welcome.

Q&A: Playground “rules” from other parents

Molly writes:

"What's the right way to handle playground "rules" set by other people? Sometimes when we're at the playground some other parent will say to
their kid "no swinging on your stomach" or "no going down the slide
backwards" or "no shouting" or "no jumping in puddles" or some other
perplexing rule that I never thought of, and then their kids (no
dummies) say "But he's doing it!"–meaning mine.

I totally, totally get how this makes their life difficult but 1) I
don't get the rule itself, I never thought of it, and I don't see why
it matters and 2) I don't really want to mess with my kid's head by
saying, Oh OK, this random adult made a new rule, let's follow it.
 (I'm not letting him throw dirt or woodchips, I'm not letting him mow
down other kids, I'm not letting him hog all the pails & spades or
anything that would CLEARLY be rude/dangerous, at least to me. )

What's the social contract say on this?  I missed that chapter.  Can we
have separate playgrounds for the intense parents and us lazy parents?"

You know, I think one of the big challenges of parenting is establishing your own policies and sticking to them in the midst of social pressure from other parents (and society at large). Parents of older kids can probably confirm that this gets more and more difficult as the kids get older. Violent video games, violent movies, Bratz, hoochie clothes for tweener girls–it seems like there are a lot of things that we're going to have to work hard to maintain a stance against.

So think of this time of dealing with other people's rules on the playground as little baby steps of preparation for telling your child that, no, she can't go to Cancun alone with her friends for spring break because they're only 14.

The parents I know have always operated under the assumption that you can make whatever rules you want for your own kids, but you can't make rules for other people's kids (assuming the other kids aren't hurting yours), and that enforcing your rules is your own business. Add you can't resent other people for having their own rules.

So that means that you have a perfect right to bring grapes as a snack for your kids, but you can't get angry at another mom for bringing Oreos. You can let your kid run around with shoes off at the playground, and even if I think it's stupid of you, I can't resent you for doing it, even if it causes me extra trouble to keep my kids in their shoes*. I can casually mention the recent cases of kids who've had their feet burned by the asphalt on the playground, but only to help you out, not to tell you you have to parent the way I do.

And, the other responsibility is being able to explain to your kids that "they do things their way and we do things our way" without saying or implying the words "irresponsible," "lazy," "helicopter," "controlling," or "dumbass."

So, basically, you make the policies for your kids, and other people make the ones for theirs, and you don't have to go by theirs and they don't have to go by yours. The stuff you're dealing with now at the playground is small potatoes compared to the stuff that'll come up later, so use this time as practice for helping your kids separate your family from what "everyone else" is doing and making that process explicit. That way later on they'll be less tempted to jump off the bridge when their friends are.

* A tip for that is to get water shoes and call them the "special playground shoes" and hype them as a cool thing they get to wear instead of that they have to wear. This won't work forever, but it will buy you a summer or three.

Q&A: special needs child

Katie writes:

“I have a 3-year-old son with autism and figure at least some of your readers have experience with special needs. My boy was diagnosed as having moderate autism just before he turned 2, and I am so proud of how far he has come. (I could write a whole separate e-mail about all of the therapies and interventions he has endured.) He is very verbal now and, though he is in a special preschool class, I believe he will be mainstreamed into a regular classroom by elementary school and be almost indistinguishable from his typical peers.

My dilemma is whether I should ever tell him about his autism. He hears me speak of it often now; I have no qualms about telling someone he is on the spectrum, partly because it explains some of his behaviors that new friends may find odd, and partly because I am so proud of all the progress he has made. But he is getting closer to the age when he will really pick up on what I’m saying when I speak to others about him.

I don’t want to completely ignore it or act as if it never happened or make it into this big secretive talk–“Son, let’s sit down for an important talk about something terrible about you.” It is a part of who he is, a part of his past and present. I guess what I’m looking for is wisdom from others who may have gone through this before. Do I stop mentioning it so much? Do I wait for him to ask me something down the road? Do I phase out the word “autism” as his symptoms show up less and less?”

Hmm. On the one hand, I feel like he’s going to know there’s something different about him. On the other hand, you don’t want him to grow up thinking there’s something less about him. So how do you balance the two–acknowledging that he’s got some things that are different about him but also letting him know that he’s great the way he is?

I wrote that first parapgrah three weeks ago, and have been sitting on this post ever since, trying to figure out what to write. The fact is, I don’t know what it’s like to have a special needs child. It would be disingenuous of me to talk about it, I think, because I’ve never had the experience of parenting a child who isn’t always going to be received easily by the world. (I definitely think I have a special responsibility in raising two white men in America, but that’s a different post.)

I’d love to hear from moms and dads of kids who don’t fit neatly into the boxes that we expect kids to fit into. Not just kids who have autism, but kids who have any other kind of developmental issue, kids who have chronic illnesses, kids who look different.

How do you manage their “issues” (treatments, therapies, medical inteventions, etc.) while still loving and respecting them as people? How do you straddle the line between living your experience as the parent of a special needs child and honoring their experience as a special needs person? What if the “special need” is something that isn’t recognized by the larger world (like being a highly sensitive or spirited person)?

Please talk about it. If you want to link to other supportive areas of the internet, please do. (If you type in the http:// before the www part of the address it’ll automatically hyperlink so people can just click through your comment.)

Q&A: Controlling Toddler Meltdowns?

Sarah writes:

“I discovered a few days ago that if I yell, sternly, ENOUGH!!!, when my18-month old starts spiraling into a tantrum, he stops, stunned by my
loud and stern voice, and returns to a calm state.  On the weekend, he
was about to meltdown in his stroller, and I yelled ENOUGH and it
stopped him dead in his tracks, I have to admit I was quite pleased.
Today he started to melt down because I wanted him to stop playing with
something that was dangerous and so I yelled ENOUGH again, and again,
it worked.  But today instead of being pleased I started to wonder if I
was scaring him into submission, or “training” him like one might train
a dog.  I have no idea how to deal with tantrums.  I have read your
posts and I understand that it’s ok to comfort an 18-month old through
the tantrum without giving into their “want”.  But if I can stop it
before it becomes full-blown, isn’t that preferable?  Or, am I using
old tactics that we’ve learned since are harmful to a child’s

This is part of a broader issue, which is that I just want my boy to be
happy, and I know my husband feels I am on the verge of spoiling him by
rarely saying no to him.  Do (good) parents yell at toddlers, as I’ve
started to do to halt bad behaviour, or is that a total no-go?  I feel
at a total loss.”

I’m going to say that this is not a good thing. On the one hand, it is kind of just a distraction method, right? You’ve shocked him into being quiet. But really what’s happening is that you’re yelling at him to get him to stop yelling.

I absolutely appreciate the urge that made you yell ENOUGH! in the first place. And I think we’ve all been there with the kneejerk, instinct-level reactions (your preschooler smacks you and you reflexively smack him back, your elementary schooler calls you a name and you respond with “it takes one to know one!”, etc.) because none of us are perfect and it’s just human nature to react when you feel attacked, even by a little kid. However, the goal is that you make discipline policies that are well-thought-out and are going to help your kid (and yourself, too) learn mastery of themselves and increase connection with you.

So, as a policy, yelling is a no-go, because it’s just punitive (and is experienced as violence, for sure). It’s not teaching anyone anything good–it’s teaching your kid to be afraid of you and it’s teaching you that brute force is the way to run the situation with your child. And in the long-term it’s not helping you guys individually or as a pair.

Honestly, I’m really starting to feel like toddler tantrums are just another developmental blip for us to ride out, like the 4-month sleep regression or that stage when they only want to eat things they can feed themselves. I think tantruming, on a kid-by-kid basis, is “normal” behavior and no matter what we do it’s going to pass. And maybe for some kids there’s something simple you can do to get them to stop having tantrums or to get them through that stage faster, but not for all. Which means that you try some stuff, but not with the goal of finding The Cure, just with the goal of helping you all deal with it in a way that honors all of you as people.

The bigger thing I think you need to look at is how you and your husband are approaching discipline. At all ages, but especially at this age, it’s about setting boundaries, not about getting kids to obey. (I really hate that word obey.) When kids obey, they’re doing it because they fear punishment, not because they’re making the choice themselves. I think we can all (or most of us) agree that the goal is to raise adults who have an internal sense of right and wrong and the power to make good decisions for themselves and others.

This young toddler age isn’t about having them make good choices, because their ability to actually choose and then carry out an action is limited, and when they get an urge it’s super-hard for them not to do it. But it is about getting them used to boundaries, and that they aren’t going to be allowed to do certain things (like hurting a pet, running into the street, sticking forks in electrical outlets, etc.), that they are going to have to do certain other things (like brushing their teeth, having their diapers changed, etc.). Another aspect of boundaries is learning that they will be loved, that no one is going to hit them or yell at them (which is why kids who are abused have problems with boundaries later), that their opinion matters, that they’re part of a community.

So it sounds like your husband sees setting boundaries as “saying no to him,” while saying no sounds too punitive to you. So maybe sit down together and talk about setting boundaries and how you want to do that. Three great references to get your head around the concepts of setting boundaries are Haim Ginott’s Between Parent and Child, Lawrence Cohen’s Playful Parenting, and Faber and Mazlish’s How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. (If you can only get one, get the Ginott.)

For practical, minute-by-minute tips on boundaries and dealing with tantrums at this young toddler and preschooler age, I don’t know anyone else better than Sharon Silver. I’m hoping she’ll drop in and comment on this post. (OK, I just clicked over to her site to find the URL to link, and started laughing because her current headline is “Stop Reacting – Start Responding – We’ll Show You How. Do you find yourself yelling at your toddler or preschooler because you’re frustrated and you don’t know what else to do?” Ha! So yeah, let’s hope she drops in.)

Q&A: stuttering in toddlers/preschoolers

A few weeks ago, my youngest one (he turned 3 in May) started stuttering. At first it was cute, but now it's getting a little bit annoying because he gets so annoyed by it. I'm not worried about it, because it seems clear to me that it's part of the disequilibrium phase Ames & Ilg talk about in their 2-year-old and 3-year-old books. It came out of nowhere, and is happening simultaneously with a huge growth spurt (I think he's grown 2 inches in the past two weeks) and a bunch of new skills and a cranky, brittle stage.

Once again, it appears I'm not the only one. Kathy writes:

"My almost 2 ½ year old son hasbeen a really good talker for the last 4 months or so.  Vocabulary was going
well and he was easy to understand.  Then he started stuttering a week and a
half ago.  He’d just gone through a growth spurt and then began sleeping
5 hours straight and even through the night on occasion (something new for us,
and I have no idea if it is related to the stuttering).  Then about a week
later the stuttering started.  At first it was him repeating the word “you”
at the beginning of the sentence.  Then it was a few more words at the start of
sentences.  Now it’s all through his speech.  We corrected the first
couple of days, then found out not to do that, just be patient and talk slowly
yourself.  The doctor didn’t seem concerned at this point, and said if he
is still having trouble at three, then they will review it then.

Is it really that normal?  He gets so frustrated, and
even will hold his chin like he’s trying to stop himself from stuttering. 
It is really hard to watch.  There are times when he will even break down and
say he can’t do it.  I am looking for any tips on what to do and or
expect from this."

It's so normal, but so frustrating, isn't it? To reassure you, it is all about the growth spurts and developmental things. He'll be really smooth at some times and then jerky and clumsy at others. The stuttering is part of that.

I wish I knew what to do to help him. My guy's old enough that he can still make himself understood past the stuttering, but with such a new talker it's a different ballgame. Does anyone have any tips for Kathy to help her and her son get past this phase? I've just been ignoring it, but it also isn't as cumbersome for my not-so-little guy.

Q&A: weaning earlier than you want to

Second half of yesterday’s post, on negotiating things with your mother, is getting bumped for this cry for help. Kirsten writes:

"I am sorry to be so pushy, but I am in a desperate, time sensitive nursing situation. My 13 month old who has been the nursingest baby ever got a cold, started teething and went on a 100% nursing strike. I have been working with a LC and am doing EVERYTHING I can. I have always had a meager supply and take Reglan and I don’t let down well for the pump, so even though I have a hospital grade Lactina, I am still only pumping about 6-7 oz. per day. I know I am going to lose my supply soon. The baby, I hate to admit, is no closer to getting back on the breast that she was a week ago, she just get furious whenever she sees a boob anywhere in the vicinity. I wake her up in the night to catch her sleepy, I try in different places/positions/noise levels. People keep saying that it is unnatural to wean this young, but it also feels unnatural that I am forcing my will on someone who seems to very much know that she wants no part of breastfeeding at this point. We are on day 9 of the strike. I wanted to nurse at least another year. I feel guilty, rejected and sad. What do I do?

It would mean the world to me if you would respond and allow other mothers to comment to my dilemma. My supply is only going to hold on another few days."

Who are these jackasses who are telling you it’s "unnatural" to wean this young? All other things being equal, if you lived in a tribal society 500 years ago your baby would probably still be nursing*. But, realistically, what control do you have over 1) a nursing strike that sounds serious, and 2) your supply?

Until we figure out if there’s anything we can do to reverse the effects of all the plastics and other things in our environment that are screwing with women’s supplies on a large scale, we all just need to back away from the guilt.

And, seriously, how much control can you have over a baby? If you’re working with a knowledgeable LC who knows all the tricks to help babies and moms through nursing strikes, and it’s not working, then it looks like it’s your time.

FWIW, I think a majority of us are conflicted about the weaning process, no matter how old our babies are. Two weeks, two years, three years…you always feel like you should be doing more. You wean and your baby gets a cold or ear infection the next week, and you think it’s you. Heck, my mom still feels bad that I weaned myself at 16 months or so–she’d wanted to nurse until two years. But you know what, 34 years later, we’re both healthy and happy and still close to each other.

Anyone who’s been through a rough nursing strike, who didn’t nurse as long as she wanted to, who wasn’t able to nurse at all, or has at any point felt disappointed in how things went with their baby or toddler, show some love, please.

* Or someone else in your tribe would be nursing your baby for you.

Q&A: 15-month-old hitting and dealing with your mother

Amy writes:

"I have a 15 month old son who is such a love.  It has been love at first sight since the beginning.  We spend almost all of our time together.  My boyfriend has a very unpredictable schedule so we have days when it is all three of us but for the most part it is always me & child together (which i love so much).  Recently he has started slapping me or hitting me in the face.  Mostly it is when he is tired, at the end of his little rope… like on the final walk home from a morning out or before bed as we lie in bed together nursing and then if he isn’t going down he gets a little excited and slaps me or (this is great) when i am carrying him up 4 or 5 flights of stairs with grocery bags in each hand with him in an ergo carrier.  I do think it has something to do with unexpended body energy and tired state of mind for the most part but some days i really do have to go to the post office and the grocery store and he has to come with me.  Anyway, besides angering me to no end, it’s really embarrassing to be slapped in the face by a toddler and then hear laughing as I say NO.   Or try to catch his hands before he does it again and have him laughing the whole time.  I have experimented with different no’s:  Holding his hands down and firmly saying no.  He cries (because he hates to be restrained at all) and then hugs me. Which all feels bad.  Trying a surprise "NO!" in a louder, stronger tone which feels awful and is also really coming from an anger place and not something I believe in when setting boundaries for a baby.  He laughs.  I think its nervous laughter because I never use that tone or volume of voice with him but maybe he is just laughing at me.
To compound matters, I am out of the country for a bit and my mother came to visit.  It has taken a while for her to completely accept the way that i am raising the baby — extended breastfeeding, breastfeeding on demand, no CIO, no crib, no stroller until recently (one reason is just logistical, easier to navigate new york city with a baby on you rather than pushing a stroller but I also love having him near and up high with me), etc. etc. …Anyway, she is pretty much completely on board with me now as he has turned out to be such a happy, loving, independent, funny, wonderful person… there’s not much to fight me about.  But when it comes to the hitting me, well it makes me feel like a pushover in front of her, that my parenting is somehow too laid back or child centered.  She suggests growling "No" loudly and basically scaring him into behaving. 
What I really don’t like is reacting out of anger.  My mother really did get angry, angry at us when we were children.  She hit us (now she is horrified that she did such a thing), yelled & screamed at us when we pushed limits or broke rules and really we were very scared of her when she was angry.  It never stopped us from doing what we were going to do, I think, but it just made us better at not being caught.  I think she had a short fuse due to all of the turmoil that was happening in our lives.  I understand & forgive it all.   We’re really close and can talk about all of these things for the most part but her first instincts in terms of parenting advice always seem a little insane to me. obviously, having a child brings up all of these things for me.  How do I want to do it?  How do I set boundaries with out using FEAR and anger.  The baby is 15 months old.  He’s a baby.  Being angry at a baby is one of the worst feelings in the world.   I think I need a good plan to deal with this slapping so that I don’t allow it to fester and then blow up at him (which has happened a couple of times, my worst parenting moments to date) and also to set me on the right track for being strong and loving, setting boundaries with love."
There are three issues in this email: the hitting stage some toddlers go through, setting firm limits without being punitive, and negotiating your relationship with your own mother. Let’s do the first one and part of the second today, and then start a new topic about dealing with your parents tomorrow.
I don’t have an answer for the hitting issue. When there’s a clear reason a behavior is happening, you can address it, but I’m not sure the reasons young toddlers hit is always that clear-cut. If he were closer to 2 years old, he’d probably be hitting out of anger and frustration, so giving him another way to channel those feelings and at the same time helping him communicate better would probably curb the hitting quickly. But it’s not usually so clear-cut with a young toddler (under 18 months). Sometimes they hit out of tiredness, sometimes out of frustration, but sometimes they just hit because they like the way it feels, or think it’s funny.
I think the best thing you can do is try to keep him out of situations that provoke it (figure out if there’s a better time of day to do errands and a worse time, and try to avoid the worse time). At the same time, think about your feelings. What is it that makes you feel so embarrassed about being hit by him? Is this something that makes you feel worse than the other stuff he does that you don’t like? It seems like this hit (ha ha) a particular nerve. I’m wondering if maybe this was an issue your mom had particular problems with and was extra-punitive with you about. Or maybe this reverberates in you because you did get spanked as a kid. (That one sounds veeery familiar to me. Getting hit by my younger one shot right through to my psyche, and I think it’s because I felt so enraged when I’d get spanked as a kid.)
At any rate, it’s probably just a phase, so knowing that, it’s not a do-or-die situation to curb the behavior, as it’ll pass anyway. So you could use this time to figure out how you’re going to deal with misbehavior that sparks strong feelings in you.
The other thing is to figure out what’s going to work with him. I did do the roaring thing with my older son, and it stopped him in his tracks but after a quick hug he moved on (without doing the behavior I’d roared to stop). In other words, it worked the way it needed to, without making him feel bad (just startled!). My younger one, though, gets so upset if spoken harshly to, which makes it awful if he runs away someplace he’s not supposed to, because there’s no way to react except to scream "NO!"" BUt once we’ve talked about it, he does a great job with role-playing and pretending to be ä cat who stops at the curb" or whatever.
In other words, it’s all a process. And part of getting to know your child and yourself. And you’re going to make mistakes. And you’re going to have to do things that you don’t like (like making your kid cry when you scream "NO!" to stop him from running into the street). And your kid will piss you off, and your kid will piss you off. But you’ll work your way through it together.
I’m really hoping Sharon Silver has some comments about all this (especially the hitting), because I’ve never been good with figuring out what to do when the kid really does think it’s just fun.
Anyone else?

Potty training when you can’t control all the variables

It seems like the parenting zeitgeist is all about potty training lately. I got three questions on the same day about potty training last week, and have been thinking about it a lot myself lately because my son will be three in May and isn’t out of diapers. Then yesterday I spent the afternoon with my BFF and her husband and son, who is almost three and still not completely potty-trained.

As long-time readers know, my older son pretty much potty-trained himself. He started wanting to try it at 16 months and was just really into all things potty. He’d be our bathroom attendant and hand us the toilet paper, stop to observe dogs pooping and peeing on the street, and watch the Bear in the Big Blue House "Potty Time" DVD on a continuous loop. He was in underpants by 27 months during the day, and by 32 months at night.

So I’ve got nothing, because I didn’t really do much of anything other than go with his interests.

The younger one is more of a challenge, though. His personality is completely different, and he really isn’t convinced there are any benefits to being in underpants. Plus I’m at work all day now, so I don’t have the same ability to control the situation on a micro level. And it’s harder to just leave him in underpants all day and not worry about accidents, since we have to leave the house more to work around his older brother’s school schedule.

We’ve talked here about potty training several times in the past few years, and as usual you guys have been a font of information and experience. I’d like to open up another discussion about it, but pick your brains for ideas about training a non-only child who is at the whim of an older child’s schedule, and also for training a child (who isn’t so sure about it) when there’s a childcare issue involved.