The potty training adventure is never boring, as your little one experiences excitement at his successes, disappointment in the inevitable accidents and the never-ending need for patience on your part. Offering your little man some fun incentives to use the potty can turn noncompliance into natural cooperation. In addition to your praise and encouraging words, try offering little rewards for your toddler's hard work.
1. Sticker Chart
Many parents utilize a sticker chart for their child's potty training venture. Put his name on the top of a piece of card stock, decorate it with markers and draw several horizontal lines across the page. Every time he successfully uses the potty -- or at least gives it a good try -- offer him a sticker to put on the chart. You can offer one sticker for "No. 1" and two stickers for "No. 2" or you can simply offer one sticker for either result. Set up a reward system to correspond with the number of stickers he receives. For instance, every sticker could be worth five minutes of story time with Mom, five stickers could produce a small toy and perhaps 10 stickers can be cashed in for a larger reward.
2. Treasure Chest
A "treasure chest" full of little, inexpensive goodies could be motivating enough for your little guy to work on his potty training skills. Fill a plastic container with stickers, temporary tattoos, toy cars, crayons, plastic rings, plastic bugs and small action figures. Every time he completes the potty routine, including washing his hands, he gets to pick an item out of the treasure chest. To be effective, the reward should be offered immediately after he does his bathroom duty. Keep the treasure container up high, out of his reach, so he doesn’t help himself when you’re not looking. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using small material trinkets as incentives to use the potty, instead of giving food as a reward.
Offering something to “shoot” at can be a fun incentive for your little boy to head to the potty. Dropping in a few O-shaped cereal pieces gives him a target. It may even help get the urine into the toilet bowl instead of on the floor and down the side of the toilet. This incentive is better for a child who has already gotten used to the potty procedure. You may want to wait until he gets the basics down, like get to the bathroom, pulling pants down, sitting on the potty or toilet, wiping, flushing and washing hands.
You can create some potty training certificates on your computer or by hand. Offering these to your child periodically can boost his self-esteem and make him feel as though he has accomplished something important. You don’t have to make one for every potty run or every day; one a week should be sufficient. Make sure his name is on the certificate, along with “Congratulations,” “Well Done,” “Super Kid” or something along those lines. Add some graphics and decorations, and present the certificate to your hard-working little potty trainer.
- HealthyChildren.org: Praise and Reward Your Child's Success
- HealthyChildren.org: Encouraging Your Child's Progress
- HealthyChildren.org: Will Pee for Food
- KidsHealth: Toilet Teaching Your Child
- Nickelodeon Parents Connect: Top Ways to Make Potty Training More Fun for Boys
- Pampers: Motivation and Rewards for Potty Training
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images