Potty training: To bribe or not to bribe

Potty training: To bribe or not to bribe

Is it bad to bribe your children into potty training? One mum tells all!

potty training

A mum gives potty training tips

The question as to whether or not it is acceptable or even productive to ‘bribe’ a child to use the potty has been debated for years. My question is why?

Bribe is such a harsh word

It seems funny to me that when it comes to potty training, we use the word ‘bribe’, but when we’re talking about tidying up toys or eating vegetables, we use words like ‘encourage’, ‘motivate’ and ‘prompt’. Call it what you want, but it’s all the same thing; using rewards (tangible or not) to teach a child to do something or bring them in to compliance. As for whether or not it works, ask any mum on the face of the earth and her answer will be ‘yes’…at least on some level.

How to bribe

When looking for ways to bribe your child for the sake of potty training, you need to keep in mind that in the beginning, the goal is to get your child to sit on the potty and try to go or at the very least, get the feel of the toilet or potty chair. This means your bribe or incentive should be relative to the task at hand. Say things like, ‘Sit here and try to go potty and I will read you this book while you do.’

RELATED: Potty training: Who do I listen to?

As things progress, the incentives for sitting are dropped and are given only when they potty in the toilet or potty chair. For example: ‘That’s such a big girl! To celebrate you doing such a good job we’ll have yogurt covered raisins.’ Every time she goes (until she’s consistently accident-free), give her 3 or 4 special treats or stickers or pennies.

It’s all about positive reinforcement-letting them know they did something good and that you are proud of their accomplishments.

potty training

A mother decides to start potty training her child at 8 months.

How not to bribe

The most important thing you need to remember when it comes to bribing your children into potty training is that you shouldn’t focus on the negative. For example: ‘If you don’t go, you won’t get…’ Reminding them of what they don’t get is stressful and makes them feel like they are failing and letting you down. Once they have the routine down and know they get a reward when they do get the job done, you will need to explain that they don’t get their celebratory prize when they don’t deserve it. But do it after they are done, not during the process.

RELATED: The essentials of potty training

Don’t make the ‘bribe’ extravagant. Just like the punishment should fit the crime, the reward should fit the accomplishment. Setting the bar too high only lends itself to turning your child into a selfish, spoiled child with a false sense of entitlement.

Don’t make promises you won’t or can’t keep. Promising puppies or ponies or fancy new toys in exchange for going potty is unrealistic and unnecessary.

So what’s the verdict

Now that we’ve talked about how to bribe and how not to bribe, let’s go back to the original question of whether it is okay to bribe your child for the sake of potty training? Yes, yes, and yes, it is. If you don’t think anything about doing it for the sake of getting them to pick up toys or other similar things, why is this so different?

What is your take on bribing during potty training? Did you bribe your child when you were potty training them? We’d love to hear feedback from you! For more help with potty training, watch this video:

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Written by

Darla Noble

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