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Is It OK to offer my child rewards during toilet training?

May 15, 2017

Toilet training is one of the biggest milestones in your child’s early development. Let’s quickly re-consider what is involving in the learning process. Your child needs to:

  • Understand what their body is telling them
  • Know the different feelings associated with wind, wee, poo, tired muscles from sport or play or what it feels like to have an upset tummy
  • Decipher the physical sensations and responding or not responding as necessary
  • Get to the toilet or potty in time
  • Pull down their pants
  • Sit in the right place
  • Wait
  • Wee or poo in the toilet or potty
  • Stay focused and balanced
  • Wipe and remember what to do with the toilet paper
  • Get dressed
  • Flush the toilet
  • Wash hands with soap
  • Dry hands

Wow! That’s a huge amount to learn, lock in and remember. Plus there are far more interesting things your child could be doing like blowing bubbles or chasing grasshoppers – these are way more fun, less hard work and instantly rewarding! 

Rewards, when used in the right way, can be an effective tool to help your child learn the routines of toilet training. Rewards don’t have to be objects or lollies – positive reinforcement with a cheer, high-five, a funny dance can all help to reinforce your child’s learning. 

So how should rewards for toilet training work?

There are a few key points to consider when thinking about implementing a rewards system during toilet training. 

  • Toilet training will take time - everybody involved may need some encouragement and can be rewarded for “having a go” (this may include mum and dad!)
  • Remember to use praise when your child participates in the toilet process, rather than focusing on whether they stay dry.
  • It is best to make your rewards linked to the desired behaviour you are seeking. For example, you may reward your child for having a go at sitting on the toilet, stopping what they are doing and trying for a wee, or remembering to wash their hands. ​Reward their effort, not the outcome.​
  • Punishment or saying anything that will embarrass or shame your child is not a recommended approach. Remember it is normal during toilet training for your child to continue to have accidents.
  • Adapt your rewards to reinforce where your child is learning - once your child has got the basics under control, don't need to keep rewarding every step. Instead, focus a reward on their current challenge.

Use a visual chart to reinforce your rewards

Talking through the main steps for going to the toilet, then putting rewards in place for completing all the steps can be a great way to help reinforce these actions over time. But it can be hard for children to remember all the steps. 

We have made an easy to follow visual chart of the main steps involved in going to the toilet. Simply enter your email address below to download the chart for free. You can then print it out and put it somewhere easy to see, decided on your reward, and start encouraging your child to try out each of the steps next time you head to the toilet!

Need more help with Toilet Training?

Mars Clinic has launched a new online program to help you feel prepared and confident to toilet train your child

FREE: Download our Toilet Steps - Blasting to success!

Enter your details for our free children's guide to toileting. 

  • Teach your child all the steps in toiletting
  • Easy to follow, child-friendly pictures
  • Reminds and reinforces toileting routine
  • Use to reward positive effort

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