Saturday, December 5, 2009

When And How To Use Rewards As A Positive Potty Training Strategy

The most effective rewards will emphasize your child's accomplishment instead of the stuff. The best reward you can give your child is the message "HOORAY FOR ME" and "I DID IT!" They reinforce the positive potty partnership and the thrill of success.

Time together is always the best reward. Quick token rewards are the subtitles in a fast-paced, move on to the next thing on the to do list world. Give your child the real gift of stopping to give attention to something well done. Incorporate daily and weekly rituals to commemorate your child's journey into this strange territory:

  • Plan mini-celebrations with cupcakes and potty candle-lighting ceremony.

  • Create a photo wall of happy potty pictures.

  • Call friends and relatives with a positive potty reports.

  • Plan a grand finale ritual when you finally say good bye to diapers dance round the last trash can as you throw away the last diaper, have an underwear party where everyone wears silly underwear over their clothes, Flies underwear wearing helium balloons, or has a parade waving underwear on sticks.

Daily potty games can also be rewarding to your children. If you incorporate games that immediately captures your child's interest, you don't need additional external rewards. Potty training can be a positive experience by itself. It isn't something your child must do in order to earn better prize.

When Not To Use Rewards As A Potty Training Tool

Rewards are tangible tokens commemorating your child's accomplishments. Most children love getting stuff. The problem is that potty age children do not always remember the symbolism of the gesture. The get hook on toy's or stuff and forget that this toy or candy were about making good potty choices. Your child may see the reward as an end itself.

Then, your oh so smart, your child realizes the game and decides to work in her advantage. Instead of increasing long term potty success, your child becomes skilled at negotiating at bigger and better rewards. Can you see him now hands on his hips with his toe tapping "OH YEAH, YOU WANT ME TO SIT ON THE POTTY WERE IS MY_________?. Unfortunately what has begun as a positive potty training partnership with your child has become an escalating power play with your child. You are held hostage by your child constantly looking for the right pay-off.

Using Stickers and Charts

Sticker and charts maybe a positive activities that record your child's growing skills at pottying. You can make a weekly poster from poster board with long column spaces for daily stickers counting your child's potty times. Let your child put a sticker on his chart when he uses the potty. Your child's active participation in a stickers activity is his personal announcement that "I DID IT!".

This activity can also be done by drawing "potty starts" using whiteboard markers and a whiteboard or chalk and chalkboard. Whichever you may choose, keep the chart in the bathroom for immediate follow through.

A potty chart is better as a child directed activity than as a parent reward system because it gives your child personal ownership over his success. An external expectation to "earn" stickers or "potty starts" can create the same power struggles as token rewards and praise.

Using Food As A positive Reward System

Food can be a positive ingredient in rituals and celebrations. Focus in the event and the joy of being together. Plan trips out for ice cream or let your child eat home made sundaes naked on "POTTY PLAY DAYS". Remember, it's one thing to teach children the spirit of generosity by giving them things they like. It's another to withhold what they like unless they do something you want. Potty training cannot be conditional, that will teach your child to preform on demand. Your goal is to teach your child to understand and trust his body.

Using food as a reward can have negative consequences. Children can begin to make emotional connections to food that can follow them into their adult lives. As with other token rewards children can easily confuse the piece of candy as the goal instead of the "HOORAY FOR ME , LOOK WHAT I CAN DO". Your child is not being trained to do tricks. If he can learn to walk with out treats, he can also feel proud and capable in his own body with out token and treats. potty training is prime time to concentrate on your child's positive attitude about his emotions and his body.