Rewards for Potty Use

Updated on January 29, 2010
J.M. asks from Los Angeles, CA
14 answers

We're potty training our 27 mo old and using rewards when he goes. We were giving him food (m&m's, raisinets, etc) and stickers, but daycare told us that they cannot use food as bribes (he's there 3 days/wk). He likes the sticker rewards for pee in potty and we had given him matchbox car for when he pooped in potty. Unfortunately, the matchbox car backfired on us b/c we offered him a choice of a car rather than just giving him one. He chose his car and then wanted a different one several minutes later. So instead of it being a reward, it became a source for a tantrum b/c he wanted a different one than the one he got. I'm looking for other ideas that 2 yr old boys might like as a non-food reward for using the potty. I will be making a "potty treasure chest" of sorts and not letting him choose his reward anymore, but just giving him something from the chest. Thanks for suggestions.

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answers from Pocatello on

We gave suckers or little treats at first. Even fruit snacks or special crackers work. After she was getting the hand of it,I didn't want to use food or anything big for every time. I made a potty chart. I put rows on it and when she went pee, we put a little sticker on. When she went poo, we put a big sticker on. When the row was filled, she got a "prize". I just went to the dollar store and got her stuff; jewelry, bubbles, chalk. She knew there was more than one necklace or whatever in there, so I just told her she had to fill up another row to get it. She trained fairly easy, except poop at first. She held it for like 3 days because she didn't want to go in the potty. she asked me for a diaper so she could poo and I told her no, I finally put her on the potty and made her sit until she went. For that she got a bigger reward. I think we took her to the store and pick something (within reason) Next poo was held for 2 days, after that, we never had an accident.
Good luck.

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answers from Boston on

Congratulations on reaching this milestone! This is a very exciting time. I don't think you need to have a treasure chest full of rewards. You don't have buy something to praise your child. I think heaps of praise, excitement, cheers, and high fives, as well as calls to grandparents and/or daddy at work are a great reward for a child. Try to think of other ways to give positive reinforcement that don't involve bribes. Good luck!

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answers from Denver on

I'll echo what Susan said...going to the bathroom should be an expectation that he meets, not an opportunity for treats. JMHO. Kids are smart, they know what they need to do and how they need to do it, sometimes they need extra time to figure out *when* they need to do it. It takes a loooong time to put all the pieces together to become fully trained. They really don't need extra toys to help them figure it out. Lots of praise goes a long way.

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answers from Dallas on

Temporary tatoos. I don't let them put the tatoo on their face, hands or bottom (my son requested that one many times), but anywhere else is fair game.




answers from Grand Junction on

I've had said the following words to my 2 1/2 year old daughter who is now potty trained after a few weeks, especially when she reminds me that her best friend gets candy for using the toilet...

Not peeing yourself is it's own reward.

I do, however, praise when she does it right and do not get upset when there are accidents. As Elmo sings, "Accidents happen, that's what they say." Then we focus on trying again fo the next time.

Lately shes been asking for privacy because she wants to do it herself, without my help.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I gave my son a sticker each time he used the potty and when he filled a row on his chart, he got to pick something out at the store. That way the "reward" is not at the house & it's something to look forward to, earn and he enjoyed the trip as well.



answers from Denver on

Here is what I did with my second son:

-I did a huge bowl of toys, candy, etc. and showed it to him. I let him dig through it and look at everything so he was familiar with what was in there.

-I then told him he could pick out one thing each time he actually went in the toilet (not just sit there)

-Then he through a tantrum for an entire day!!! It was awful. He did however go in the toilet about three times that day, I rewarded him by letting him pick a toy or candy. He indeed wanted to switch toys but I said NO. More tantrums.

-I did not waiver at all. I would not switch toys, I would not negotiate and I did let him pick his own so he could see what he could work for next.

-The next day he got up and began asking for something to drink (I had already told him that this will make him pee) Shortly after getting up he peed in the toilet and shortly after that - a tantrum (he wanted another toy). The good news is, he only threw a couple of tantrums this day instead of the whole day and he peed and pooped in the toilet all day.

-By the third day, he was peeing and pooping in the toilet, no accidents, he did not have a single tantrum and we were done potty training. He never had an accident day or night from then on.

I did keep up the bowl of treats for about a week then slowly we just blew it off and it was no longer needed. The NUMBER 1 thing to this method is to not cave or waiver on it. Also, he HAS to see and pick what he wants so he can understand that he has to pee to get another one. I am not going to lie, it is miserable for a couple of days but it is short lived and he will not even remember the whole thing when you are done.

As far as the daycare thing, if at all possible, keep him home on Friday and Monday so you have Thursday - Tuesday to work this. By the time you take him back on Wednesday the need for reward will be over.

Good luck!



answers from Billings on

When I was little my mom got me a little scrapp book. And when I went to the potty I would get a sticker to put in it. I really liked picking out any cool stickers.



answers from San Diego on

We are potty training this week--today was day 4. I googled some cute pictures of animals on toilets and printed them out. Each day we hang a picture prominently in the kitchen and then every time she put something in the toilet (pee/poop/even a fart!) she got to decorate her picture with a sparkly smiley-face sticker. She spends 3 day/week at grandmas, so she has a picture and stickers there too.

Maybe he can get a favorite food at dinner if he gets 5 stickers at daycare. For us it was CapriSun at dinner tonight for a successful day.

Positive reinforcement is key for any behavior change. Good luck, I'm sure every child responds uniquely to the potty challenge.



answers from Honolulu on

try not using rewards/treats/food/bribes as a way for him to potty.
If not, as you see, they get used to it. Its not their fault... that is what they are learning. Now he gets upset about it... so the reward is now the focus, not the going to the potty.

Or, just use stickers. And, if he fills up a whole index card of it (or whatever the stickers are on), then maybe he can get a "crown" that you make for him. And, each Month or week, he gets that Crown. Not a "new" crown, the same Crown. But you can put tally marks on it or something.
Or just give him praise and high-fives and hugs. Feeling proud of it....and self-accomplished, instead of the getting of treats for it.

Ask the Daycare what they do there... then replicate that at home. So that it is ALL the "same."

All the best,



answers from Salt Lake City on

I love the comments you got about cutting back on the treats and just using encouragement. With my two older sons, we promoted staying "clean and dry" instead of arbitrary toilet sitting. At random times during the day, I'd ask if they were clean and dry. If they were, I'd offer them a fun drink, such as a juice box, (I let them drink a lot, since practice makes perfect) or we'd just dance around and celebrate. If they weren't clean and dry, I'd be disappointed with them and supervise as they changed they clothes and started over to be "clean and dry." "Clean and dry" was our mantra for awhile, and it worked like a charm. I think I learned this technique from the book "Toilet Train Your Child in Just one Day" by Azrin. The method is simple and respectful and effective--even kind of fun-- and we were done in about a week.
If you feel you really need material motivators, consider wrapping then like tiny presents so they are exciting and he can choose without comparing what the prizes are.
Best wishes!



answers from Denver on

We recently started using the treasure chest idea for our almost 3yr old son (for sleeping through the night until his night light turns off). I got inexpensive toys from walmart (a Dollar store would be good too) - toy dinosaur, glow stick, coloring supplies/chalk/paints/markers/glue sticks, stickers, mini basketball hoop, bath toy, card game, etc. I also plan on putting "tokens" (1/2 of an index card with pictures on them) for things that can't be in the treasure chest (popsicles, indoor camping, etc). I hope that helps.



answers from Boise on

The thing that's worked the best for both my boys, even though they are very very different, is a potty training chart. I got a big piece of paper and drew (not perfectly) lines to make boxes. After a significant number of boxes, I drew a picture of a reward, then another set of boxes and another picture of a reward. His first reward was a new pack of underwear. With my first son, I told him we'd go to the store and he could pick one out. But with my second, I'd already picked up a pack on clearance, and knew he'd like them, so I showed them to him and put them up on a shelf where he could see them. He was so excited to earn them!
Every time he peed, he'd get a sticker on the chart. When he pooped, he got two stickers. If he asked to go potty while we were out and about (at the store, etc) he would get THREE when we got home. He did really well with food rewards at the very beginning of potty training, but it lost its appeal after a while.

The second reward was a camping trip with Daddy. Daddy has always volunteered this reward, so maybe you could ask your DH to see what he'd be willing to do. Maybe going to a movie at the theater, going out for ice cream or for dinner, whatever he would love. My boys both worked very hard to fill up their charts, motivated by the visual reminder of their big rewards.


answers from Chicago on

I think the reward you use depends on the child. Rewards can be praise, hugs, cheers, OR stickers, toys, etc. Each child is motivated by something different. If you are not using something that is rewarding TO THE CHILD, they will not be motivated to use the potty. So you have to experiment. It's like asking you- how much are you willing to work for? Would you work an 8 hour day for an M&M? Maybe, but some others might require a Matchbox car, or $100.
I have a background in animal behavior (dog training, specifically), and I swear it has been very helpful in parenting, since humans are animals too.
We used Matchbox cars for pooping (that was our hang-up on potty training) when my son turned 2. He was potty trained in a week, and I attribute that to the fact that we found the right reward that he was willing to "work" for. You know what your child likes, so use that. There are just some kids that aren't motivated enough by praise, and I think many of them end up taking a lot longer to train because their parents refuse to give them something they really want, if only temporarily. We weaned my son off of Matchbox cars very quickly, and switched to jelly beans, or stickers, or praise. He has been potty-trained for almost 6 months now (night time AND naps too!- we never used Pull-ups) and we give him a Matchbox car here and there for a milestone- like pulling down and up his own pants and going to the potty all by himself. He only gets a couple for new things, and then we raise the bar again.

I hope this is helpful. I'm no expert, and I know my son trained pretty young and quickly by most current-day standards, but it might help you in some way, I hope. :)

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