Should potty training include treats or rewards?

Some moms find that giving sweets or some other kind of reward for successful potty training is helpful in motivating their children to learn, while others argue that it sets a bad precedent. What do you think?

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40  Answers

50 4

Every child/situation is different. My daughter REFUSED to be potty trained, so I waited until SHE was ready. Our system was a blank piece of paper that I drew squares on-to section off a designated number of squares, at first there were only a few, but I soon increased the number of squares as she progressed. Each successful "go" was rewarded with a sticker in a box-small for a #1 "go" and large sticker for a #2 "go". After a predetermined number of accomplished sticker-boxes, she was rewarded with a small treat. The treat reward didn't appeal to her as much after a bit, but she still loved to see all her stickers-which is important to little ones, being able to concretely SEE their accomplishments and progressions and successes. It was exciting for her to have it on the fridge and she was stoked to show Daddy her stickers when he got home from work!! It made her so proud, and Mommy too!! :)

*** She had control over which "big girl panties" we bought and the was rewarded with being able to chose her "big girl panties" to wear that day, as she progressed when we got dressed in the morning!!

[Side note, I did make up a silly reward/tradition, which we called a "Happy Dance", where whenever she would go #1 I would do a (very silly/very ridiculous/very wild-something I wouldn't do out in public, lol) little "Happy Dance". When she went #2 I did a little more crazier of a "Happy Dance". It made her giggle and it worked-for us]

Bottom line: if it works for you and you think it's right-DO IT!! :)

9
7 25

I had the worst time potty training my son. I knew he could do it, he just didn't want to. What I ended up doing was going to the dollar store and getting a chore chart and some stickers. Every time he went on the potty, he picked a sticker to put on his chart. When he filled up a row with stickers he got to go to the store and pick a toy. He picked up on the potty training very quickly, and he learned to work towards a goal, and with the chart he could see how far he had to go the get to it.

7
19 15

We started off with just praise and a big loud cheer, but as they stopped progressing we started giving "Fruit Snacks" from Sunrype (also contains veggies) Now they go on their own, no problems at all and we do not Cheer or give snacks any more. We were rewarding them for overcoming a hurtle they came to and it slowly got forgotten as all they wanted to do was to go back and play. My daughter was trained by 2.5, middle son trained by 3 and youngest guy was 2

7
3 23

It takes time to work out what works for your child. Sweets might motivate one child, while a reward chart and stickers may be better for another.

However, what I think is important to avoid is bribing your child as this teaches them nothing. I know one Mum who bribed her son with sweets if he went to the toilet when instructed and two years on he is still having accidents as he hasn't learned to take responsibility for his own actions.

For my daughter, lots of praise when she got things right went a long way, followed by sticker rewards later on in the training. For her reward charts didn't work, but putting a 'Hello Kitty' or whatever, sticker on her dress directly gave her something to instantly be proud of.

5
4 0

I tried giving my daughter rewards and it was not very sucessful for her. So I just got really excited, made up silly songs about her going to the potty, lots of praise, and top it off with a big hug telling her how happy she makes me when she goes potty. After that, she started to tell me she wanted to make me happy when she had to go potty, that was her potty que, and when she was done she would be so excited yelling i make you so happy i make you so happy. All children are different but I found the praise to be more sucessful for my daughter

4
10 29

we've just successfully potty trianed our little girl and I also used stickers and praise to encourage her. Her potty book had a sticker chart in the back and she loves to add the stickers, I also cheered and had a silly little song which we sang. it's slowly been phased out now, but I still tell her well done and get her to give me a high five when she's finished - and you can see she's really proud and knows she's achieved something. I agree that food rewards can be a bit tricky and I'm not entirely convinced if this is entirely good or bad, although at times I do reward very good behaviour with a small treat (and motivate her to be good with the promise of a reward) BUT if she is not good I do not give her the treat anyway, I think that whatever you decide to do you should be consistent and follow-through, that way your little one will feel secure and always know where they stand with you. GOOD LUCK!

4
8 8

I think that it helps and I think that it actually sets a GOOD precident. As adults it is good for us to set goals and give ourselves small rewards for making small goals and bigger rewards for bigger goals.

My daughter gets stickers when she uses the potty. She has >90 stickers for this month right now. She gets excited and likes to build little families and then likes to use food stickers to give them treats. It's a recognition of her efforts and a small reward. We also have a special 'We're proud of you" song that we sing. We have tapered off the song as her accuracy has improved. She gets a small toy animal (~3 dollars) when she makes a bigger goal, like putting everything in the potty at her Nannie's house (something that was hard for her to remember because she's so busy with other things there). That has worked extremely well, too. When we go over we talk about whether "baby polar bear will be able to come live with us today" for example. We don't scold at all for mistakes, but we do say "I'm sorry" to whatever character is on her pull-ups for getting them wet or poopy.

We taper off the rewards as she gets more proficient with the skill. For instance, we don't praise her for being able to feed herself any more.

BTW, we tried the 'Boot Camp' method first (where you just put them into underpants and let them wet until they kind of 'get it'). That didn't work at all for us. We did it for a couple of weeks and then I just couldn't take the mess and she clearly wasn't making rapid improvement. Maybe she wasn't really quite ready for it at the time.

4
8 8

Update: She was completely potty trained by Thanksgiving and we had stopped giving any reward for using the potty by the middle of December. We just started only giving stickers when she asked for them and she doesn't think to ask any more.

2 5

we are potty training our 16mnth old girl and she is doing well, we get accidents though:)!. We always clap hands for her when she drops in #1 or#2 in there, she wants to see it flushed away and then sprayed with freshener....that really makes her want to use her potty when ##s are calling- lol!

2
59 0

We all need encouragement to do something that is difficult. We all expect reward for our hard work at our jobs. Oftentimes we get confused thinking that rewards are like bribes. There is a good website that talks about the difference between bribes, blessings, and rewards. http://biblebasedparenting101.com/bribe.html
I didn't understand that a bribe is something that induces a person to do something wrong or illegal. The site mentions that if we are teaching children correct principles, then bribe is not the word. Reward is something given for doing a good deed, and blessing is some divine blessing. Are we mother's not given a divine commission to raise children and teach them correct principles? So it is okay to reward and bless our children for doing good, praiseworthy and correct things. God blesses his children every day for obedience and prayerful inquiries. Our prayers get answered, is that not a reward? I guess our motives and intentions are what matters. The site mentions using a token system with happy faces and is quite detailed. I liked it.

1
4 13

We gave our son stickers for each time he told us that he had to go potty... It seemed to work fantastic! And when he was completely potty-trained, we took him out to a toy store and let him pick out a toy. With our daughter, she only used the potty-seat 3 times and she was potty-trained! We couldn't stop telling them how proud of them we were. So now, My daughter SKYLAR, who's 5, gets up in the middle of the night, and goes to the bathroom by herself. And my son CHAISE, who's 3, wakes us up to tell us he has to go to the bathroom. I don't know if we did anything different, things would've turned out better/worse.

1
4 13

Both kids were PT before 3

11 16

If they are NOT as a bribe, but as a reward yes, I'm all for it. The difference between the two: I'll give you a sticker/candy if you go potty in the big girl potty vs. asking them if they have to go potty, having them go, and then rewarding their good behavior. My daughter now has forgotten about the treat at the end of the 'event' and the cheer and silly dance is enough. Sometimes they just need a bit of extra encouragement but praise from you, honest praise, is bigger than any treat you can buy.

1
2 30

I bought some sweeties from Aldi's (artificial colour and flavour free) about the size of a sultana and would give her one every time she did a wee. I don't believe in pullups. She wet herself twice (without a pull up) & connected it with going to the toilet .
I made the mistake of putting too much pressure on regards to number twos too early....& had to back away from it for a month or so. I had a Dora present wrapped up and put it in eyeshot and a kindersurprise in an egg cup next to it. (sat there for 6 weeks) She began by pooing in her nappy in the toilet area (she would get a sweetie) & then progressed to sitting in her nappy & doing a poo on the toilet(kinder surprise)...two hours later she ripped off her nappy & did her first one in the loo!! Whoo hoo...That was on turning 3 & we haven't looked back! She never had a dry nappy through the night but one evening just said "mummy I don't want to wear a nappy to bed."& so I let her go to bed (somewhat nervously) and sure enough she woke up to go to the toilet through the night. She's 3 and a half now...I'm thinking I've been pretty lucky but believe the rewards have definitly helped. Of course it was a n initial incentive I don't give them anymore.

1
6 4

My son showed interested in potty training at 18 months (standing up to go potty), however he was 3 before he finally "got it." We used stickers. He got one sticker for #1 and two stickers for #2. I bought the inexpensive sticker stars w/like a million to a package for a couple of dollars, and they managed to last through the potty training. I'd let him pick out the stickers.

It got to the point where mommy and daddy started receiving stickers too, which really got him motivated. EVERYONE was being rewarded for going on the potty. He's a smart little guy, and figured out, why am I the only one getting rewarded for going on the potty(?), and quit training. After rewarding mom and dad, pretty soon, before we knew it, he was potty trained!

One important note: If you have a boy, just be glad it goes in the potty... don't shame him if he sits down to go pee. It will only delay the potty training progress if he thinks he's doing something "wrong," and he won't want to try. For me, it doesn't matter how it gets in, as long as it gets in. After he got the hang of it, then he was taught to stand up/shake, etc. and now goes just fine.

He's 4 now, and we've used wet wipes to teach him to wipe his bottom properly. We tell him to throw them in the trash, since he clogged up the toilet w/toilet paper twice. He's now weaned off of the wet-wipes, and can wipe himself.

Just think, it takes "baby steps" for the whole family. Don't rush it... by the time your kids are in college, I'm sure they'll be using the potty properly. Lol!

1
13 0

There are videos your child can watch to get them used to the idea. You can find them at Target or online. I rewarded my son and was done in 3 days. I let him watch the video for a week or two and kept asking himif he was ready. I don't think it's a big deal to reward them. There only go thru this phase 1x. Don't make it a big deal or process. You stress the kids out

0
1 0

A potty chart with small prizes to work toward for staying clean and dry, and mini m&ms for successful "eliminations" worked beautifully for my two year old. She loved seeing her prize waiting for her and counting how many more stickers she needed, and she was excited to pick her color of m&m. Didn't cost much, and kept her focused on her goal. We stopped the prizes after she filled up her charts and she didn't even notice. We're slowly stopping the candy...don't offer, don't refuse. Worked for us! Why make potty training harder?

0
1 13

We did the potty chart as said below. We printed off a picture of a prize of her choice, which happened to be the princess dress up dresses she loved! We pasted the picture of the beautiful princess dress in the last square of the chart, and she knew when all thd other squares were filled with a sticker, we would go shopping together for her dress! It worked well. We actually started off using money, change actually. Each time she'd go on the potty, we would pull out some change and take down her piggy bank so she could add her money. She thought that was pretty exciting, and it beats filling the kids up with candy all the time. We did have a period of time where she reverted back to not wanting to use the potty, but we're back on track now.

0
53 99

I've potty trained three kids using a rewards system, and it works great. We had no problem getting away from the rewards once they were trained. I don't think you need to over-complicate something like potty training. A simple sticker chart leading up to a special reward worked great for my oldest, while my middle child responded better to an instant gratification type of system (he got a small piece of candy each time he went potty). My youngest did well with the sticker chart too.

0
22 14

I used plenty of rewards and motivational items for both kids. In my experience, after a while they forget about the treats and just get used to going potty. It works, it's temporary so why not?

0
1 6

Everyone has their own opinion on it. Mine is that giving them an reward, like a piece of candy, after they went potty kind gets them thinking. they see that they get a piece of candy if they used the potty and they don't get anything if they don't use it.

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0 0

0
0 27

My daughter will be 3 in exactly 1 month and she is now 100% potty trained day and night. I did try using rewards with her when we first started and it worked. After only about a week or two she started going on her own and didn't expect anything in return, Other than the entire family making a big deal about it. (Clapping our hands, Praising her, Telling her what a big girl she is now!) My son however took a little longer to be pottytrained at night. Good Luck to all!

0
0 10

Treats worked 6 for 6 in our family - but it was only small - like one or 2 skittles at a time. Happy dance and clapping lots also helped.

0
78 0

My son has a therapist and child pychiatrist because we want him to have the healthiest upbringing. Therefor my answer to your question wont be an opinion from a mother. It will be coming directly from doctor and therapist who both work with children. Here is what they told me regarding rewards:

Why does adults go to work? Usually for one reason - a reward - MONEY!

To a child, potty training doesnt mean they are a big kid now. It means they no longer have a maid wiping their bum and keeping them fresh. It means they have more responsibilities and less playtime hours.

Knowing that you get a reward after doing a great job and tryng your hardest IS healthy. Children that grow up not receiving positive rewards generally dont have a high self esteem when they are older.

0
11 20

To Krista London So essentially you just passed the buck of parenting and made it the professionals fault if your kid turns out to be less than perfection? Rewarding simple behaviours with a big deal does not necessarily make your child think that way, in my experience it is far more likely that a child who relies on external motivation and reward will become selfish and unhappy because they are less capable of discovering the internal gratification of simple jobs completed because they need to be. I feel for you and your child and sincerely hope you are teaching him that jobs can be got becaus he has a passion for life not purely for financial reward.

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15 27

My daughter is July 2009 and the start of last month we decided to toilet train. Within 4 days we were no longer using nappies at all. I was very proud of her milestone so she got a little doll when we went grocery shopping. Other than that just cheers and praise. Good luck.

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30 39

me and my partner cheered and give a reward of a choise of sticker to place on the wall/chart. it worked like a treat.

0
2 0

I think if you are realistic with how many treats you give and for not too long that it is ok. We started potty training two weeks ago and at first offered one jellybean just to get her to sit on the potty as she would refuse otherwise. Then we would offer her another jellybean when she was finished sitting, even if she didn't go. When she finally did pee we gave her 2 jellybeans. We did this for 4 days until she got into the swing of it. Then we cut out the jellybean to sit down but followed through with the rest of the plan. Somewhere along the line we just stopped mentioning treats and now 2 weeks later she recognizes that she has to go, she goes on her own and doesn't ask for treats. Well, except for the other day when she did no. 2 on the potty for the first time. She asked for a treat and we happily gave her one. But the next time we didn't. I know all the professionals say not to reward with food etc. but we really had a hard time getting her to agree to even try and she showed all the signs that she was ready and could do it. Now though we don't hesitate to tell her a lot that we are so happy that she is using the potty and she gets hugs and kisses. And if she has an accident, we tell her that is ok - it happens. We encourage her to take part in helping to put the dirty clothes in the laundry and get cleaned up. She even empties her own potty into the toilet and puts a bit more water in her potty seat to have it ready for next time. That blew me away that she wanted to do that but kudos for her.

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7 13

Our son finally took an interest in potty training after seeing one of his friends use the potty. He decided to try it himself and was so excited about going that we really didn't have to do much more than praise him, clap and make a big deal. He even goes poop and tries to get on the potty about once an hour (at least!) when we are home. Sometimes he'll just finish going and tell me he has to go again just to get more praise. We haven't used any stickers or treats because so far, he hasn't needed them, but if it gets to a stall at some point, I think I'll try stickers adding up to a small reward (like a matchbox car). He hasn't had any accidents with me, but is shy with the babysitter, so when she's home with him while I'm at work, there are lots of accidents. Hoping this will change soon!

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14 22

Sticker charts are my favorite, after they go potty so many times they get to choose a reward out of a "prize box" that u have made up already with cheap toys or coloring books. Also, let them over hear u "bragging" about how well they are doing with potty training when ur on the phone or dropping them off at daycare, they love praise and it makes them feel good that u r so proud!

0
1 20

All 3 of my girls were potty trained just after their 2nd birthday. I found they were ready for this, and treats were only used with my first, as she then helped the others and showed them how to be big girls. I think treats are a very good idera, but use with caution, as i found out with a few mothers from our group, who were then blackmailed by thier kiddies, like weeing themselves as there was no treats in etc. They are too clever for their own goodsometimes! Perserverance, and praise, limit drinks, (ie not readily available to sup constanstantly), and staying positive will all help. Good Luck all x x

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9 31

i use a star chart with my little boy and even if he has little accidents we reasure him it doesnt matter as he used to get so upset but he knows when he is sucessful he gets a star and yes he does get little treats but not for just one star he has to have a few , also this stopped him expecting a gift etc whenever we go out if he sees something expensive he knows he has to try very hard and get lots of stars and then we consider getting it
everyone has different ways of dealing with it and after all not everyone can stay at home and toilet train i find this the best way as i have to work full time so toilet training is shared with myself and grandparents

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20 27

We used m&m's. he got 1 for tinkle and 2 for poopies. At first, he would tinkle a minute amount 20 times a day to get m&m's but he very quickly quit that and within a month, the m&m's dwindled just because he forgot to ask for them. My boy was potty trained at 2 1/2 years old!

0
20 27

the last potty of the day (after we brushed teeth) - he got a sticker on his had for the night. He still likes his stickers for night but they are so cheap, i don't see any problem with continuing that part!

17 14

Definitely rewards. My four year old is finally trained! It took too years because I decided not to bribe or give food treats. Food treats are very persuasive. We give two chocolate chips which are the PC bittersweet chocolate chips. Its amazing what a child will do for two small chocolate chips. As she got better she had to do more and more to get the treat and then she had to ask for it. Eventually it was forgotten until now when I'm training my two year old.

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2 22

We had tried Stickers it worked for a while then he didn't care anymore if he didnt get them, so we moved to sweets and that had worked better but if he has an accident in his pants he doesn't get a reward, but like someone else said what works for one child doesn't always work with another

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5 4

We did rewards for all three of our kids initially. Whether it's reading a book, a small treat (piece of candy corn or fruit snack), I think it was a good motivator. They can accumulate stickers to turn in for a prize too. After about a week I stopped the rewards and the kids were happy going as a big kid and knowing we were proud. It helps when you have an oder child to model the behaviors and cheer along for the younger brother or sister.

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5 4

BTW, I started by just keeping them in underwear all day. You might have a few accidents but I think it's faster overall and worth it!

32 17

With my first daughter she fought it all the way. She wasn't fully potty trained until she just turned 3 years old. It didn't help that she was regressing a lot because of her younger sister and she thought she was getting more attention because she was in diapers. I ended up letting her pick out her potty seat for the toilet, buying a few toys that she could only play with while using the potty and we bought this device the connects to the inside of the toilet seat. Once she flushes the toilet it would start making music so she'd do a dance everytime. It turned into more of a game then anything else and it made it where she wanted to go potty every time. Now I'm in the process of potty training her just 2 year old sister. It's just getting her familiarized with going on the potty it just sucks having to put her on it every 45 minutes so she doesn't pee or poop onto the floor. So far so good until her big 3 year old sister puts a diaper on her because she needs bottoms on as she says.

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5 8

Yes I believe reward's are good for kid's! I used Stickers and fruit, worked really well with my son... my son was toilet trained in a week at age 2.

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4 0

My experience with potty training my son was different then how I thought it would go. My son happens to be very stubborn and does not like when he is not in control so I had to adapt to him. I began introducing the kids potty to him a year before he officially started potty training, but didn't put any pressure on him to use it. He hated sitting on it, so I eventually just let him use the big potty with the little potty seat, which he did MUCH better on. He got to where he would sit, but would never do anything. I tried the sticker chart at first because I was opposed to using food as a reward, but after some time of nothing in the potty I started with one of the little sixlets candies or an M&M at a time telling him he would get one if he went in the potty. It worked! It gave him an incentive and made him correlate that he had to do more than just sit on the potty. I also did the sticker chart when he did something as extra encouragement. Within 3 months he was routinely going in the potty and now the treats/rewards have faded out by his own doing since it became a routine to him. I think being flexible as a parent in most situations is key and not putting pressure on the little ones. I let him do it at his pace and kept positive words and just kept introducing him to it so he wouldn't be afraid.

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36 28

I don't reward my son but I do give him plenty of praise so he does do it again.

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14 47

I think that if the child has to be coaxed to go on the potty or toilet in the first place they are not ready. I would recommend that the praise and positive congratulations that they are a big kid now should be enough. However once they start getting the hang of it and have a whole day without being wet I would certainly recommend rewards to encourage their success. I would not use food though as this will give them a negative attachment to Healthy food if sweets are rewards then what is the food they normally eat?
I think the star charts or reward charts work very well aswell as some positive rewards such as a trip to the park or a special trip to feed the ducks

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4 12

yes i think giving rewards when they go to the potty training works i did tat with my lil one and my niece and nephews and sister and brother in law helped cause they cheer on for her! she was potty trained at 2 years

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