Monday, April 6, 2009

Potty training and jellybeans

We have been working on potty training for a couple of months. We had one moment of success on our first morning, and then weeks of refusal to even sit on the potty chair. I'm in no hurry (she just turned two in January) but I still asked around for ideas on getting Abigail to agree to sit on the potty.

I heard several ideas, like giving stickers for sitting and for success (but we play with stickers just for fun, so I don't think that would work). One friend mentioned to me that her boys got jellybeans for sitting on the potty, and more jellybeans for having success. I really didn't think this was an option for me, but then I bought a huge container of Jelly Bellies at Costco. I bought them for me, but Abigail quickly learned that jellybeans were yummy.

When she started asking for jellybeans several times a day, I decided it was time to use them as a treat for potty time. So for the past few weeks, each time Abigail has asked for jellybeans, I ask her what we do to get jellybeans. She makes a beeline for the potty. She gets one for sitting down, and then one every few minutes after that until she's "done." When we're done, she gets three as a treat. When she has success, she gets a few more.

I know there are theories about rewards and intrinsic value and kids doing things because they're supposed to (or want to) rather than because we give them treats. However, I can tell that she's excited call Daddy to give him her news, and she was excited for herself when she has success. The jellybeans are a "booty in the chair" enticement, and I don't believe that's such a bad thing.

What have you used to help with potty training?


Anonymous said...

We turned the water colors with food coloring when he would use the potty successfully. He got to choose the color (always "All o' dem!") and then he would flush saying "G'bye rainbow!"

momandkiddo said...

My attitude towards potty training was very relaxed (perhaps some would call lazy) and as a result it was very easy to potty train my son. When he showed signs of readiness I simply let him run around at home without his pants. When he peed on the floor (fortunately we don't have carpet.. you could do this in the yard, instead), he caught on quickly. Then he could wear undies at home. Since I really didn't want to deal with potty training/accidents when we were not at home, he still wore diapers outside until he was about 3 and I was confident we could go on the subway or bus with out an accident. When I finally felt he was ready to wear undies outside with no accidents I linked it to a big event. We happened to be going to Disney World so I said "When we get back there will be no diaper outside." That worked really well. (I probably could have done this earlier but I didn't want to deal with potty breaks at DW!) The first time he went out without a diaper he had an accident, but I think that was a necessity so he could see that, indeed if he pees in undies outside it does get all over himself. That was all he needed and he never had another accident outside. Incidentally, the day he stopped wearing diapers outside he also spontaneously stopped needing them at night.

I know this is a long comment.... there is a lot of research to show that kids' bodies potty train when they are biologically ready and not before. I really believe that. I don't think that rewards are always bad, but I didn't want him to feel pressure to control his body's functions if he wasn't ready. In our situation, since my son is not in school, I had the luxury of taking it very slowly and as a consequence potty training was completely unstressful for both my son and for me.
Every child is different and I am hoping my low-stress approach works for my second son, too!