Friday, August 24, 2012

Bathroom Bribery

Once upon a time (or, more accurately, twice upon a time), I gave birth to a couple of babies. Which means that at some point after that, I had to start potty training those babies. And for child #1, that day has come.

That day has been a long time coming, truth be told. My son was only about 18 months old the first time he peed in the potty – at his own request. I was thrilled to death, and pictured my amazingly advanced child potty-training himself by his second birthday.


He’ll be three years old in a few short months, and although he will willingly pee in the potty right before tubby time and even asks to use the bathroom every time we’re at Costco (I don’t see the allure of the public bathrooms at Costco, but apparently he does), but he has shown very few indications of being able to sense when he needs to pee or of being bothered by a wet or dirty diaper. So I had resigned myself to the fact that he, like me (as my mother often reminded me), was simply too busy and uninterested to be potty-trained until he was closer to age 4 than to age 3.

But just this week, he’s started to show more interest and willingness in using the potty, so yesterday I went with my gut and we started potty training in earnest. He loves pushing the buttons on the kitchen timer, so I brought it down to the playroom, set it for 30 minutes, and let him push the “Start” button. I explained that every time it beeped, he could turn it off, and then he could pee in the potty, and each time he did, he’d get some kind of a treat.

I am not above bribery.

I am also aware that there are many different things that motivate a child, so I made a mental list of a bunch of different bribes – er, motivators – to encourage him to use the potty. The most obvious is, of course, sweets. Like most children, my son has a sweet tooth, and like most parents, my husband and I allow him sweets sparingly. So dangling the figurative carrot in the form of a mini cupcake, half a brownie, or a single Rolo candy was my first line of attack. But I realized that dealing with a small, already energetic child who had been eating candy and sweets every half hour all day long was not necessarily an improvement over changing diapers all day, so I tried to mix it up. He’s always begging for juice boxes (mostly because he like to put in the straw by himself), so that became one of his rewards. He hates wearing pants, so another reward was getting to play outside without having to put on pants. Watching YouTube videos on my computer is another treat he begs for on a regular basis, so the offer of getting to watch a few silo demolitions or a clip from Cars 2 dubbed in Russian (? we stumbled across it by accident once and for some reason it became one of his favorites) was added to the treat list.

Other than a few token protests here and there, he was surprisingly willing to go “do a try” periodically through the day. At the end of the day, we’d only gone through two diapers – and the only reason I had to change one was that he’d peed in his sleep during nap time.

So we’re on to day 2 of “motivational training.” If all goes well, by my son’s third birthday, bathroom bribery will be a thing of the past.

At least until child #2 is ready to be “motivated.”


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