The Toilet Bribe

Bean is going to be the “big three” soon and I’ve been trying to get him interested in using the potty because I’m sort of tired of cleaning grown-man-sized poopy diapers.

Before our super hectic and unscheduled summer, Bean would use his baby potty sporadically but I didn’t force him or anything because at the time he was still little and I was pregnant and super lazy. Once we moved into the new house, we were on a time crunch to get the house ready for Belle’s arrive (since the our builders royally screwed up our building timeline) so Bean’s potty training went on the back burner.

Once I started actively trying to train him, he used the big toilet a handful of times because he saw me and J.D. use it but in-between each potty session, he would refuse. So, we went back to the baby potty and then I discovered bribing as an amazing tool for child rearing.

I tried a candy bribe — one M&M for pee and two for poop. The candy worked for maybe two potty sessions and then it didn’t. The problem was that when he wasn’t using the toilet, he’d still beg for candy and when I didn’t give him any, he would throw a fit. Then he started to refuse to even sit on the toilet and try and instead demanded candy on the spot. No bueno.

I tried the “mommy won’t get mad if you use the toilet bribe.” This never worked because Bean would always get really close to me, put his grubby little hand on my cheek and say “Mommy, don’t be mad… Be happy!” and then he’d run off giggling without even trying the potty and then I would find him two seconds later, squatting in a corner, pooping.

Then I discovered the solution… I needed to use a multi-leveled bribing system. What was the currency of this bribe? STICKERS!!!!!!

So basically, I made four reward goal visuals that Bean could earn stickers for. Each goal was separate from each other so even if he didn’t successfully complete all the tasks, he wouldn’t miss out on rewards. My goals for him were for him to “sit” on the potty and try to go, “pee,” and “poop,” and then “wash” and sanitize his hands. Pretty simple expectations.  I also color coded his visuals since he can’t read yet…

Currently, I have to ask him if he needs to go to the potty. Most of the time he will say “yes” and then sit for a while… Sometimes it’s productive and sometimes it’s not. But, that’s okay because the system has substantially cut down the number of poopy diapers I have to change. Granted, I still need to wipe his butt and clean out the baby potty but it’s a lot less messy… Just a quick wipe, then a dump, rinse and flush.

Sometimes he will go into the bathroom just to look at his stickers. When I follow him in there, he will ask for more and I’ll tell him if he tries the potty, he can have some. He usually decides to at least try and a lot of the time he at least pees a little which yields three stickers which makes him super proud. I’m still waiting on him to stop peeing in his diaper and explicitly tell me he wants to use the potty but progress is progress.


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