Potty Training RewardsIf you’ve been talking to other parents about potty training, you’ve probably heard about the M&M method. The child receives an M&M each time he sits on the potty; more if he performs. Ultimately the M&M method backfires with toddlers rushing to the potty every few minutes to score more candy.

Problems with Rewards

The biggest problem with potty training rewards is that they confuse the message. The child’s desire to obtain the reward can become so great that it obscures the goal. Instead of focusing on potty training, you and your child are engaged in M&M negotiations! This doesn’t mean rewards can’t serve as helpful incentives when your child is ready and willing to potty train; but rewards shouldn’t upstage the main event!

Verbal Rewards

Encourage potty training with plenty of verbal praise and positive reinforcement. Keeping a basket of small toys and books next to the potty can make potty time special. Turning potty time into a mini story time is another way to encourage your child to relax and, hopefully, perform. Stay away from food rewards to avoid establishing unhealthy food habits.

Keep Rewards Small

Incentives are most useful as a way to encourage toddlers when they’d rather be doing something else. Keep rewards small and offer them immediately after pottying -- and always accompany rewards with lots of verbal praise.

Rewards to try:

  • Stickers or stars that the child can paste on a sheet of paper or in a small book or use to decorate his potty chair
  • Play a favorite game
  • 15 minutes of special playtime with mommy or daddy
  • A trip to the park or library
  • 10 minutes of TV or video time
Photo Credit: SnapR