Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Potty Training Success Story

Don't get the impression that John is fully potty trained yet, because he's not. But he's not even 2 1/2 yet and he's well on his way there--mostly because I stumbled onto a reward system that has worked out a whole lot better than I ever could've imagined. I thought I'd share that with you today.

When Sam was potty training, he got candy for going potty, and it was a little traumatic for him when he started going potty reliably and he quit getting candy for it. When John started expressing some interest in using the potty, and I started bribing him with candy, Sam wanted to know why he didn't get candy for going potty too.

I had to think fast. As a rule, I try to give them the same rules/rewards/punishments because they're so close in age and I really really don't ever want to hear the words, "But Sam/John gets to..." ever come out of their mouths. As far as the candy was concerned, I knew if I stuck to my guns and only John got candy, Sam was going to throw a fit of epic proportions and would seethe in his resentment towards John. But if I gave in and let both boys have candy whenever they went potty, both my boys would be asking for candy til they were 45. Ultimately, what I wanted was for Sam to be encouraging about John potty training and neither option was going to achieve my goal.

So I told Sam that he was John's potty coach, and that he needed to cheer John on and demonstrate what to do, if need be. And then I told him that the new house rule was that if John went potty, everybody got candy (which has proved a very popular rule during play dates at our house :-)). So right from the get go, Sam was very motivated to help John. Now John recognizes when he has to go and goes by himself to the bathroom.

I thought that would be the end of it, but I underestimated a toddler's hunger for candy...

But before I tell you about the unexpected benefits of this rule, I have a confession to make. I totally suck at potty training. It's key to frequently remind your child to go to the potty, and I fail dismally in doing that. It's not on my rader at all. Which is probably why it took Sam so long to grasp the consistency portion when he was potty training. 

Luckily, he craves candy pretty regularly, and has taken it upon himself to remind John that they're in need of a fix. He'll go up to John and say, "Do you need to go potty again, John?" (Toddler speak for "Would you like to raid mom's Halloween candy stash again?") And John will say, "Yes!" ("Bring on the Milky Way bars!") and run to the bathroom.

So one off-the-cuff moment of parenting genius has my 4-year-old potty training my 2-year-old...
I wish everything was this easy.

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