OK, so I will be the first to admit that I’m not a potty training expert – in fact, right now I could use some potty training advice for my own toddler!
We’ve had a few successes, a few failures, and one out-and-out catastrophe; I was too busy cheering a successful potty visit to stop my toddler in time from picking up the potty, and dumping its contents out on the floor – whoops!
Having read all the parenting blogs, books and official guidance; one tactic that stood out for me was using little gifts as rewards to motivate your toddler.
I’m not adverse to a bit of bribery, so I set about to discover some potty training reward ideas and find the best gifts to entice my toddler to use the potty.
Most kids love books and as a bonus, they encourage your toddler to sit on the potty, double-bonus if the book helps to explain the potty training process to your toddler.
We’re currently reading ‘Everybody Poops’ and ‘Pirate Pete’s Potty’.
A good potty training idea is to buy your toddler some underwear with their favourite cartoon character. Yes, the ubiquitous Peppa Pig even has her own line of toddler underwear, as does every animated children’s character you can think of!
Encourage your little one to keep their underwear dry, as you don’t want ‘Peppa’ to get wet.
Picture Communication Keyring
These nifty little key rings contain around 10 laminated cards, each about the size of a passport photo. Each card has an image (such as a potty), which can be pointed to, in order to communicate with your child if they aren’t fully verbal yet. If you already have flash cards or a picture book these would also work, but a communication keyring is really handy for when you’re out and about.
Sticker Reward Chart
Make your own or buy a Ready-Made Wall Chart to reward each and every potty visit and track your toddler’s progress. You can set milestones along the way for them to earn a bigger reward or just to encourage them to reach their goals. My toddler prefers to put the stickers on her potty though so I’m not quite sure I’ve cracked this one.
No surprise to anyone that sugar is a wonderful motivator to children, although it’s probably best to use sugar-free treats where possible (Be aware that some sugar-substitutes can have a laxative effect which may not be helpful in a potty training situation!). A Lollipop tree can be simply created with a bowl or jar, some florists foam or polystyrene, and any kind of treat on a stick. Getting your toddler involved in making the tree is easy, or you can buy one already pre-made.
Anything that is small, cheap and collectable makes an ideal gift for potty training. Your toddler is going to be using the potty several times a day so you will need to plan for this and stock up if you are going to reward them each time.
If you can find a cheap source of matchbox cars either from a discount store or a job lot on an auction site then you are on to a winner – otherwise, I would recommend saving these as a bigger reward treat, such as staying dry the whole day or reaching a milestone on their Rewards Chart.
Following on from this my next suggestion would be to look out for the Lego Juniors Sets such as the Fire Patrol or Farm Building Suitcases as they typically contain over 100 pieces, meaning you can ration out the gift-giving. Just hand over a piece or two at a time until they complete the set, hopefully by the time they are potty trained.
Similar to books, Colouring-in is a great activity to do while hanging out on the potty or toilet. Rather than giving my daughter a colouring-in book, I have been printing out activity worksheets related to potty training or just different learning themes we’ve encountered in the week. I’ve collected some free to print pages on a Pinterest board for easy reference [‘here’ link to follow shortly].
What do you think about giving gifts to reward a toddler for using the potty? Is it a good idea or a terrible idea?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments, especially if you have any advice to help me with potty training!