Rewarding Potty Training Efforts without Promising Disney
3/1/2007 | by Jen Singer
They looked like three-foot-tall
decorated generals. Well, decorated generals with
Thomas the Tank Engine stickers all over their jumpers. But you get the point. When I
was potty training my two boys, stickers were their rewards. First for sitting on the potty,
then for going in the potty, and later for finishing the potty trifecta of sitting, going and
Every time I upped
the ante, making it harder to get those coveted stickers, they rose to
the occasion. OK, not every time – sometimes they had a meltdown on the bathroom
floor, but that’s to be expected from toddlers now and then.
I picked stickers as
my kids’ rewards because I knew that they would work. First of all,
my toddlers loved to display their success on their outfits. Also, they adored Thomas the
Tank Engine (and Barney and various car and truck stickers). Mostly though, they
soaked up being rewarded for potty training.
So every time they
sat, went and/or washed up, I affixed a sticker to their shirts, which
they later displayed to Daddy when he got home. As a result, they got three rewards: a
sticker, praise from Mommy and further praise from Daddy. For us, stickers were a win-
win and win again proposition.
If you’re trying to
pick a good reward for your toddler, consider three bits of advice from
this mom of potty trained kids:
Make it meaningful.
A potty training reward has to be something kids will get
excited about. One mom I know used a Cheerios dispenser. Her toddler got one
pump for pee in the potty and two for, well, number two in the potty. Her toddler
loved Cheerios, not to mention pumping the dispenser, so that reward worked
well for them.
Make it immediate.
Toddlers are too young to understand delayed gratification.
So if you promise a trip to the park tomorrow for pee in the potty today, chances
are she won’t make the connection between action and reward. Rather, reward
her right away for a job well done.
Keep it simple.
If you’ve reached the point where you’re promising your toddler
a trip to Disney World for giving up his diapers, you’ve raised the bar too high to
reach – and you’re setting a dangerous precedent for future rewards. For
toddlers especially, small rewards doled out consistently work best.
Finally, reward yourself.
Potty training is labor intensive for Mom and Dad, and frankly,
you deserve a pat on the back. Or, maybe, a handful of Cheerios.