Whatever your reward, it made you feel good, right? And it probably made you want to do more of the good job you’d done to earn it. That’s exactly how a rewards system works for potty trainees. Imagine you’re a toddler and you’re being asked to try an entirely new process — one that seems much harder than just peeing and pooping in your diaper like you’ve done for the past few years. The idea of potty training might feel overwhelming, tiring and even scary. So a little reward or two can go a long way in making potty training more fun. Try these ideas for potty training prizes as you’re planning your approach:
- Stickers. When potty training your child, try giving them stickers that can be affixed to their shirt like little decorated generals. Wearing a reward can make kids feel proud of their achievements and encourage them to share the good news with friends and family members who see their sticker.
- Sticker chart. To show progress over time, make a sticker chart. You can hang it up right in the bathroom or by your child’s potty chair and add a new sticker for each potty training success. Download a Disney Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse chart, or make your own. All you’ll need is a big piece of paper and some crayons, pens or markers. Think about your child’s interests, and tailor the chart. For example, if they’re currently interested in the night sky, draw stars and planets. If they’re interested in nature, draw flowers, trees and animals. You can even let your child create their own sticker chart. Or some parents skip the chart altogether and let their kids load up the toilet with stickers. As the surface gets covered, their potty training kid sees how much progress they’ve made every time they enter the bathroom — just like with a chart.
- Counting jar. Another great way to show success build up over time can be a jar with pennies or marbles. As the jar fills up, you can see together how much progress your child has made. You can model counting skills with them too! Just be sure to keep the jar up on a counter or shelf your child can’t reach as the little pieces can be a choking hazard.
- Snacks. Some parents have found success rewarding potty activity with little snacks such as mini marshmallows or small chocolate candies — one for number one and two for number two, of course. Planning to use this technique for more than a few weeks? You may want to consider a non-sugary option such as raisins, crackers or pretzels. It all depends on your family’s approach to sweets, of course.
- Treasure chest.Make the bathroom a fun place for your child during potty training by creating a treasure chest for your girl or your boy. Together you can decorate a small box such as an empty shoe box and fill it with little toys. A small plastic container works well too. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money filling it. Pick up musical instruments like kazoos, some inexpensive coloring books, finger puppets or bubbles, and use them to keep your toddler entertained while they wait for the magic to happen.
- A call from their favorite Disney character. When they’ve reached a big milestone — like going on the potty for the first time or having a “perfect” potty week — arrange a call from your child’s favorite Disney character.
- Story time. Kids love to have their parent, older sibling or other big person read to them. Even if you have a daily reading routine — or story-filled bedtime routine — consider making books part of potty time too. Store a few books in the bathroom that you’ll read only during potty time. Keep things fresh by buying a new book every couple weeks, or take a trip to the library together each week to stock up. You and your toddler can also make a My Potty Book together.
With so many fun options out there, there’s sure to be one that fits your child’s potty training personality. The key is to figure out what works and change it up if the reward stops working as an incentive. For instance, offer a different sheet of stickers every few days.
Some parents have skipped the treats altogether and used different methods like singing and dancing, calling Grandma or simply offering up an enthusiastic high-five. Whatever you choose, just be sure to stay positive — and share that positivity with your potty training toddler each and every day.
For moms and dads overseeing the potty training process, there are rewards as well. In a recent survey, 76% of moms agreed that seeing their child’s pride at having success is a reward of potty training. Of course, a venti coffee, a dinner out with friends or watching the game with your crew feels pretty good, too.
While you’re potty training, reward your little one, and reward yourself, too. You’ve earned it!