Phasing Out Potty Rewards

While parents are usually careful to praise and reward first potty successes, enthusiasm typically wanes long before children achieve that all-important goal of going to the potty each and every time they need to.

Parents tire of having to drop what they are going to "watch me go!" or "see what I did!"

They make excuses so as not to have to participate and become lackadaisical as they distractedly mutter, "that's great."

Soon their own disinterest is reflected in their child's waning attention to remaining accident-free. He's as enthusiastic about going to the potty as the parent is about helping him.

The solution is to remain involved as long as your child needs encouragement to keep going, then phase out your involvement gradually, but only after he is fully trained.

  1. Stay with him in the bathroom the whole time and give him a reward.

  2. Help him get started in the bathroom, leave, go back in, give him a reward.

  3. Tell him to go on ahead, join him in the bathroom a minute later, and give him a reward.

  4. Tell him to call you when he's finished in the bathroom, join him there, do a bathroom inspection, check his hands, and give him a reward.

  5. Tell him to come and find you when he's finished in the bathroom, check his hands, then give him a reward.

When your child uses the potty regularly for a week without prompts or reminders, move the rewards to the kitchen.

Have him go to the potty by himself and come to you afterward to collect. Check his hands. If they're not clean, send him back.

Check them again when he returns, then give him his due.

The first time your child forgets to come ask for his reward, you'll know he's nearing the finish line. Most children then forget with increasing frequency.

You can "help" by conversing on another subject after she emerges from the bathroom but before she asks for her reward.

But if she does ask for it, give it immediately!

A deal's a deal!

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