We're in the middle of potty training my 2 1/2 yr old son and we're taking a much more laid back approach this time compared to how we handled our daughter's potty training experience. Also, I've learned that potty training is as much an exercise in learning independence as it is in learning to use a toilet.
My son actually prefers the big potty and, in my opinion, if he's ok with the big potty, go with it. The only reason I see for using a separate child's potty seat is if you have a very small kid, or one who is afraid of the big potty (both were true of our first child!). Why add one more thing to clean? ;-)
Right now our son sits on the potty rather than stands. The reason you start boys out sitting is because they're often not able to independently control bowel and bladder movements. So, if he's standing, you might have pee go in the potty, but something else land on the floor in front of it...
For when there's no seat topper (with the splash guard),We taught him to scoot back far enough so that his "pee-pee" points into the toilet (instead of shooting straight at the wall across the room from the toilet).
One of the main things that I've seen related to REAL potty training readiness is the ability to dress and undress himself. That is, to sit down, put his legs in a pair of shorts or underwear, stand up, then pull the up. This is the independence part of the training. You can work with him on this now by showing him where to hold on to the waistband of his pants, etc. and letting him have a go at getting dressed while you stand by in case he needs assistance. This is also a good reason for using pull-ups for a while so he gets used to putting them on like he would underwear. You can also use clothes that are a size or two too big. It's probably not too hard to find shorts on clearance now that he can use for practice. Because our son goes on the potty about half the time, we use pull-ups because they're just easier to get off an on.
After the frustrating experience with potty training our first child, I consumed all sorts of literature on potty training so that we wouldn't be stressed out this time. From that "reasearch" and my own experience I found this: You will have pee on your floor. Invest in some of the "pet odor remover" carpet stain remover. Regardless of your best efforts at behavior modification, your child still has ultimate control over when and where he eliminates. You just have to let it go. Practice giving him choices so that he still feels in control of things -- "Do you want to use the downstairs potty or the upstairs potty?" And, if there's not a choice available, don't ask a question -- "It's bath time, let's go potty then hop in the tub" rather than, "Do you want to go potty before you get in the tub?"
Finally, one of the best guides for parents that I've seen is "On becoming Potty Wise" by the authors of the "Babywise" books. While I think their other Babywise books have a sort of militant tone that I find a turn-off, this potty book offers the best, most thorough explanation of the stages of potty readiness. It really helped me understand where my son is at in the process and that it really can take a LONG time between that first, innocent interest in the potty, to a full-blown, completely trained kid. For example, I was beginning to get frustrated with my son because he has the ability to hold and control when and where he goes, he TELLS me every time he wets in his diaper, he usually poops in the potty, and he can pretty much toilet himself independently other than using toilet paper (literally, goes into the bathroom, undresses, says "I need privacy," shuts the door, gets on the potty and does his business, then hollers for me to help him finish up). However, he is still unsuccessful in underwear. Literally, we've gone for 5 straight days in underwear where he just couldn't tell us he had to go before it happened. There was a LOT of pee on our floors those days. Anyway, after reading the pottywise book I understood that we're still waiting for him to have something called "volitional readiness." That is, basically, him having the will or desire to use the toilet consistently. He simply can't stay interested in it longer than a couple hours. If I stay on top of him and take him at regular intervals, he can stay dr most of the day, but then I'M potty trained, not him. Since I don't want that to be the case (and it's hard to stay on top of it with another kid to distract from it!). So, we are still waiting for that magical moment I've heard moms talk about where their kid just woke up one day and put on underwear and never looked back.
So far, he will wear underwear in the evenings, or if we have an "off" morning where we stay at home a while, but not a full day. Interestingly, he simply loves public restrooms and wil stay dry all day if I'm running errands because he wants to go at every stop. The Target family restroom is his number one favorite place to pee. Ha!
I figure the hard part -- the actual training of how to go -- is behind us, so there's light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, this month I got the "feel wet liner" pull-ups to see if that might spur him to use the potty more often (without me prompting it). He doesn't like the wet feeling, so he's actually holding it in for longer periods of time, then tells me every time he goes and wants dry pants! Hopefully this is furthering our campaign for underwear.
I know this was probably too much information but, well, you asked :-)