Potty training children is difficult. It’s enough to take the calmest mom and dad and force them to get clever, sometimes cruelly so. We find ourselves using swear words, potty training bringing out our potty mouths. Or, perhaps, we regale our children with scary stories: there’s an alligator in the toilet named Charlie who’s getting thirsty. And Charlie’s angry when he’s thirsty.
Still, while we find ourselves frustrated by the flush, a positive potty training reward system is much more effective. So, take a swipe (or a wipe) at the following tricks:
1. Use Food Coloring
Food coloring turns toilet water into the color of your child’s choosing. They might not want to go in a clear bowl, but a bowl that’s blue? Bring on number one and two!
2. Print out Potty Tickets
These tickets act as punch cards for your child. Each time they go, the card is marked. When it’s filled, they get a surprise. If they refuse, they get another kind of ticket: a one-way pass to grandma’s.
3. Purchase the Poop N’ Pull
It might sound like something that you have to do when you don’t eat quite enough fiber, but the Poop N’ Pull is a potty training reward system where your child pulls a string for a toy each time they go to the bathroom. Some kids might only pretend they need to go, so make sure they’re not pulling your leg as well.
4. Have Consequences and Incentives
The idea behind this is simple: grab a jar and, for every dry diaper, give them something to put in the jar (a ping pong ball, for instance). Once the jar is full, they earn a gift. But, for every soiled or wet diaper, make them take a ball out. They’ll probably struggle with this concept, but they may as well learn now: if you crap in your diaper, life craps on you.
5. Buy a Potty Prize
If your child is particularly motivated by prizes, congratulations: they’re easier to manipulate! This is especially true in regards to toilet training: take your kid on a shopping spree and purchase potty related items (such as big boy or big girl underwear) and a few prizes. Then wrap these prizes in enticing and “must have right now” paper. Place them somewhere visible and remind your child that they’ll earn the prize when their potty training goals are achieved. Just like some horses need a carrot dangled in order to walk, some kids need a trinket before they’ll tinkle.
6. Make a Potty Training Sticker Chart
Children love stickers (for some reason). Posting a sticker chart outside your bathroom and rewarding them whenever they go is a great way to make sure they “stick” to the program. You can even celebrate how long they’ve gone: Days without an Accident: 2…scratch that, O.
7. Break out the Chocolate
If there’s one thing that we as human beings respond to, it’s chocolate. And children are no different. Each time they go, reward them with a small treat: M&Ms or a Hershey Kiss. Because, let’s face it, certain types of chocolate make a good segue to poop. Remind your kids, for instance, that if they drop a Milk Dud inside a petting zoo, it’s best to assume it’s gone forever.
8. Personalize the Potty
Let your child decorate their thrown. Stickers or colors or even drawings taped to the bathroom walls make the porcelain a bit more welcoming. After all, toilets aren’t all that inviting. And that’s probably why so many men seem to miss the bowl completely.
9. Bring a Friend
If your child has an attachment to a toy, a doll, or a blanket, summons it to help you. This added friend gives some kids the security they need. So, bring their teddy bear to the toilet in the early years. In the later ones, try to swap it out for a magazine.
10. Search for Treasure
Placing a treasure chest on top of the toilet is a perfect way to get your child interested in using it. When they do, allow them to blindly pick a prize. If they don’t like that particular prize, well, they may always come back for more after a nice glass of prune juice.
Maybe, someday, parents will band together in a movement to make potty training easier (the Bowel Movement). But, in the meantime, we do what we can. Many children respond to the potty training rewards above, making your life a little less crappy.