Monday, October 27, 2008

A word about potty training

Since my last post, I've had several comments from friends on the challenges of potty training. Let me say that I have read exactly zero books on the subject. I recall the author of the Girlfriend's Guide books saying something like don't rush it. And my mom telling me that M&Ms worked with me -- she kept them in a container on the back of the toilet as sort of an incentive/torture device. That's the extent of my potty-training training.

Despite some people telling us that M&Ms are a bad idea, we have used the M&M approach. And it has worked with magical success -- with #2. In fact, Caroline doesn't just tell us she has to go, her exact words are usually, "I need to poop in the potty and get some M&Ms."

If you don't think we're terrible parents for bribing out little girl, I'll share a few of our potty rules:

#1: In the beginning, whenever you suggest "trying," mention M&Ms. It's sort of Pavlov's dogs thing -- you gotta establish the reward in their heads so going in the potty is worth the effort.

#2: No M&Ms any other time. They are reserved exclusively for potty success. That makes them more valuable as a reward.

#3 No M&Ms unless she hits the mark. This will break your heart on more than one occasion, especially when she tries to get to the potty and doesn't make it. Stand firm. Toddlers are master manipulators. If you make an exception, you open the door for all kinds of rule bending.

#4 Reward success immediately, even if it's inconvenient. Even if your little one is on the verge of getting into the tub as shown below. Toddlers don't understand delayed gratification. And by the way, M&Ms may not melt in your hand, but they melt in the bathtub.

#5 - Pick a number and stick with it. Otherwise, you get into the "just one more" debate. Ours is 5. It seems like a lot to her but not enough to give a caffeine buzz at bedtime.

#6 - Praise, praise, praise. Tell her how proud you are when she earns her M&Ms. Tell her what a big girl she is. Call grandma and grandpa.

I can't guarantee these tricks will work for everyone, but we rarely have an accident anymore. When we figure out how to make all this work for #1, I'll share those rules too. Good luck!


Jeremy and Allison said...

I know you've gotta do what works! I found that it was pretty easy once Izzy was ready. She was a few months older than Caroline - she was too scared and overwhelmed when we tried at first!

Cory and Margaret said...

M&M's worked with both of my only took 3 days the other 5 days. They also helped to teach both of my children their colors!! The magic of M&M's is endless!!! :) Sounds like you and your little one are doing a fantastic job!