You’ve probably come across potty training sticker charts and other reward systems parents use when potty training their kids. Some parents will simply use the stickers as a reward, others will reward their child’s overall progress with a larger prize or gift (like a new toy) once they get a certain number of stickers on their chart. Some parents report having success using small candies like M & M as a reward for using the potty.

Is it a good idea to use a reward system during potty training or are we just bribing our kids? It’s a good question, and of course it raises some valid concerns you may have as a parent entering the world of potty training.

You should definitely be careful about the way you use a reward system when potty training. You want it to be encouraging, easy to earn the rewards, but challenging enough for your child to try.

Apparently, you also need to be careful how you tell your child the “terms” of the reward. A friend promised his son a particular toy car that he wanted if he didn’t make number two on his pants for two weeks. The boy did not; in fact, he didn’t poop at all during those two weeks, which ended with an enema at the doctor’s office. Of course, this story is a bit extreme, but it nonetheless emphasizes the point that we should be very clear with our children about what we expect in return for the reward for potty training.

For me personally, a combination of lots of verbal praise and a potty training chart showing the child’s progress on the stickers has worked best. But each child is different, he has his own personality. Your child may respond better to some M&M or a larger toy. Try what you think would motivate your child the most. If it doesn’t seem to work, you can always move on to a different reward system.

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