Do Potty Training Rewards Work?

When it comes to potty training your child, are rewards a good idea? Do they even work?


According to award-winning parenting author, Elizabeth Pantley, rewards can be a helpful assistant when potty training your child. In fact, surveys show that rewards can actually motivate toddlers. But just like any other challenge, the child has to be ready both physically and mentally to be potty trained before the process can begin. "You can begin training at any age, but your child's biology, skills, and readiness will determine when he can take over his own toileting," said Pantley. "Potty training is easier and happens faster if your child is truly ready."

So how do you know when your child is ready to take the plunge? Any child near or passed their first birthday is typically a good candidate to begin potty training, says Pantley. Parents can begin incorporating pre-potty training ideas into the child's life by teaching the toddler words and meanings for bathroom-related functions, such as wet, dry and wash.

"Help your toddler identify what's happening when she wets or fills her diaper. Have (the child) watch you dump and flush," said Pantley. "You can start giving your child simple directions and help him to follow them. For example, ask him to get a toy from another room or to put the spoon in the dishwasher." If your child is aware of what's happening in his or her diaper, can follow simple instructions or can communicate basic needs, your toddler just may be ready to be toilet trained.

Incorporating rewards

A reward system can be a parent's best sidekick. "Potty training is one of those rare times in parenting when prizes can be helpful and effective," said Pantley. "According to some polls, more that 80% of parents have given their child rewards or prizes for using the potty. 

"My surveys have uncovered that fact that most toddlers and preschoolers can be highly motivated to make changes when offered prizes." Some great ways to incorporate rewards into what may be a not-so-fun task  includes using things such as stickers to help make the process fun for your little one.                                                                                                                     

"Invite your child to add a sticker each time he successfully uses the potty," said Pantley. "The stickers alone are often enough fun to motivate a child."

Using a sticker book or calendar as the place for stickers is a popular choice among parents and children, says Pantley.

"Post it in a visible place on the wall, best if it's near the potty," she said. 

"Another great place for these stickers is to have your child put them right on the potty chair! This is great fun for a little one and personalizes the seat even more."

But remember, the child must be ready to be potty-trained.

In fact, Pantely suggests that if your child is physically not ready for potty training, meaning the child is unable to use the potty on his own, hold back on using a prize system so you are not setting your child up for disappointment.

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