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You are here: Home > Toddlers > Potty Training

Potty Training: Reward Charts for Success

by Katlyn Joy | January 20, 2012
1 Comments


A child's achievement of becoming potty-trained is a momentous occasion in the life of a family. It's an achievement for parent and child alike. Once past this milestone, you'll realize babyhood is behind you and the toddler and preschool years have arrived.

While there are oodles of potty training methods available, one popular method is one of the simplest; rewards. A reward chart will help a child feel a sense of pride and independence as he becomes potty trained.

A variety of charts exist on the internet to print out, from plain grids to ones featuring popular characters from children's television programs.

To use a chart reward system in potty training, you must first determine what will merit a smiley face, a sticker or stamp. Will you give a sticker for only trying out the potty, for going on her own or staying dry for a predetermined period of time? Some people use a graduated training reward chart, first rewarding the child for merely cooperating and attempting to potty. Then once that has been mastered, the chart can be stamped for going to the potty without prompting.

Once you've chosen your parameters, create or find an appropriate chart to work for your potty training experience. You can make one yourself with a computer printer or you may pull out the ruler and a pencil and do it old school style. Add some zing with markers, a fancy border and make sure you emblazon the child's name across the top for added incentive.

Choose stickers or stamps in a theme that appeals to your toddler. Butterflies, superheroes, sports or princess items are good ideas. You might go with old fashioned stars. Another option is to buy a stamp and stamp pad. Make your child part of the purchasing process to further involve her in the whole thing so she feels more in control.

Probably the most important aspect of the chart method is consistency. You want to be clear in what your expectations for your child are and exactly what behaviors are rewarded and how. Once you have clearly defined this, you will want to sit down with your partner, grandparents and caregivers to make sure you are all on the same page. Nothing will get you off track sooner than inconsistency or different adults making different rules.

Once all the adults are on working from the same guidelines, the next step is to sit down with your child and to introduce the chart and the system you've decided upon. Show your child the chart and stickers and explain how they will earn stickers on their charts. Adopt a positive tone and attitude and smile and make sure you have enthusiasm for the process. The idea is to be proactive not reactive or in punishment mode.

Explain what a filled week of stickers or a chart that is filled out will be rewarded with. If at the end of the week you want to reward your child, consider what an appropriate level reward would be to adequately motivate your toddler. Would it be an outing, a treat or a toy? Make sure it's something that is appealing to your child but not so big it's an actual bribe. Also make certain it's a reward you can keep up with.

A totally filled in chart may earn something on a bigger scale. You may want to include rewards that tie in with the potty training process like character themed underwear. Another option is a book that discusses potty training or a doll that potties.

Once you implement the new reward system, stick with it. Don't let set backs or frequent accidents frustrate you. It is a process and every child has an internal clock for such skills. Don't forget to reward your child promptly or the chart will lose its potential power as a motivator.

Save the child's starry charts as bragging rights for when grandpa and grandma stop by. Show your child you are happy with the progress and proud of how big they are.

Whatever you do, don't remove stickers for accidents or any such punishing actions. This will undo the power of the reward system. You want to focus on progress and stay positive.

When your child has an accident, help them realize what they could have done to achieve their potty training goals. "Oh, did you wait a little too long to make it in time? Next time you can hurry when you feel like you have to pee, right?"

Once you've gone through a few charts, you can expect potty training to be accomplished or nearly in reach. Save the charts with your child's other special rewards and achievements in a memory box. You've both earned the honor.


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Helen Neale Jan 21, 2012 02:46:07 AM ET

Great article! we also found that kids got savvy to getting stickers so were visiting the loo lots just to get one. we therefore said it had to be a proper wee to earn the reward! there were certainly showing good control though!

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