What rewards work best for potty training? Potty Training

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Child's feet close-up while sitting on toilet.
iStock/Saklakova
Should you reward your kid for going on the potty? Some say "definitely," others say "no way"! Use this advice to decide what's best for your child.

Start With Special Treats

"You can offer a treat your child doesn't usually get, such as stickers and stamps on the hand or sweet or salty healthy snacks. Don't give these to your child for a week or two before potty training and then give them to your child every single time your child is willing to sit on the potty or toilet (even if he's not actually producing anything). You are training for compliance and not so much for results at first. Don't worry about spoiling your child with treats. After a few days of...

"You can offer a treat your child doesn't usually get, such as stickers and stamps on the hand or sweet or salty healthy snacks. Don't give these to your child for a week or two before potty training and then give them to your child every single time your child is willing to sit on the potty or toilet (even if he's not actually producing anything). You are training for compliance and not so much for results at first. Don't worry about spoiling your child with treats. After a few days of potty training, you can start giving treats only every once in a while and then completely stop. Your toddler has limited attention span and will move on to other things. If your child has a hard time using the potty without a reward, offer a small prize at the end of the day if their underwear is dry all day. Kids forget after a few days, so don't offer the prize unless the child asks for it." -- Elena Mikalsen, PhD, Mikalsen Psychological Services, San Antonio, TX

Rewards Aren't Always Necessary

"Smiling and praising your child when things go right (aka positive reinforcement) goes a long way." -- S. Daniel Ganjian, MD, pediatrician at Providence Saint John's Health Center, Santa Monica, CA

We Gave Potty Coins

"We had some plastic gold coins that were left over from a party and would give one to my daughter every time she peed in the potty. If she pooped, she received two coins. She was praised a lot and then she got to pick one or two coins. At the end of the week, I would take her and her coins to the dollar store and let her 'cash in' her coins. She picked out whatever she wanted and handed the potty coins to the cashier."

Incorporate Games

"My son loved 'target practice.' He didn't like to sit down and pee but got really into it when we dropped a little something biodegradable in the toilet, like cornstarch, because it gave him something to aim at. Selection of target practice objects made the potty routine more interesting."

We Brag to the Grandparents

"We make sure my daughter knows we're proud of her when she goes to the potty. We make it a big deal and let her call Grandma and Papaw to tell them! If you're into it 100 percent, they will be too!"

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.