Maaaaaaajor milestone in our house today. O filled up his first reward chart for potting training. Even bigger, last night just before he went to bed, O and I discussed that he only had two spaces left on the chart. Once filled, he gets a special trip to the toy store. Although seemingly unclear about the rules and benefits of the chart last night, he told me he would wait until morning to pee.

Thing is, he did.

He awoke with a dry diaper. We felt like lottery winners! O went to the bathroom, peed in the toilet, and then came to find me this morning. His 4 1/2 year old brother did the reporting:

“O peed much more than we thought he could this morning, Mommy.”

I was astonished. I went to the toilet to see the evidence. Dark yellow bowl of pee. Immense pride….I think my heart pushed out a double-beat.

This has never happened; we’ve just started trying with underwear this week. These little people in our lives astonish…

I’m doubtful this will last into perpetuity at this point, and I understand the potty training road, like most roads, is very bumpy. But I do know this: reward charts really can help motivate potty-trainers.

Using Reward Charts for Potty Training:

  • Basic is best. You don’t need to buy a chart. Make the reward chart together with your potty trainer. Have them help design it. Provide them a sense of ownership.
  • Celebrate success on the chart. Ignore failures. NEVER take stickers down for mistakes.
  • Give stickers freely for any good deed you deem worthy of progress. Be clear with your child about progress (putting on underwear, peeing/pooping on the toilet, or even entering the bathroom to pee in a diaper if you have a child who is resistant).
  • Rewards should be non-food items whenever possible. Leave the relationship with food out of it! A $1-$5 toy may be best for the first row of stickers, for example. Save a bigger reward, like a trip to the toy store alone with Mom or Dad (for a $2 toy) for a completed and full chart. But provide structure on how it works. The first toy will be very educational…
  • Don’t give up hope when you step backwards on the potty training road. Return to reward charts again and again as needed. Change incentives and rewards to inspire a sense of newness.
Maybe success started here: Listen to O Singing himself to sleep that night…