Monday, January 24, 2011

Incentives. Or rather, full-on bribery

I know I'll be spending a fortune on diapers for Baby Girl in just a couple of months, but I do not want to spend a single penny more on diapers for Samuel. Come on, kid, get motivated! (PS--vote on your favorite Baby Girl name on the left)

We have tried the whole gamut with this kid, and I can not seem to get him motivated. "Oh, you pooped your pants. Now you can't have your new truck!" And straight-faced he says back: "I don't want my truck." "I don't want a marshmallow." "I don't want my bouncy ball." "I don't want to be a big boy, I want to wear a diaper." "I like taking cold showers." Ok, not really, he's never said he likes the cold shower, he mostly just squeals in terror and clenches those little white butt-cheeks, but it seems like he might as well be asking for it when he poops his pants daily!

I just plain out asked him "What do you want me to give you as a reward for going poop in the toilet?" fully expecting to give him whatever his little three-year old self designs to ask for. And then the poop happens in his pants and said reward is denied and stubbon three year old is completely indifferent.

Today I said "Samuel, you can't play with play-doh until you've pooped in the toilet," and "After you poop in the toilet, I'll get you a donut and you can have your bouncy ball back!" Well, he managed to get some of it in the toilet this morning and promptly asked for his bouncy ball, then his donut, then play-doh. Is this the trifecta of potty perfection? Will it work tomorrow?

So here is my question: I know it is different for every kid, but what was the "clicker" incentive that convinced your kid it was worth it to go in the potty? Was it wonderwoman underpants? Was it a trip to Chuck-E-Cheese? Was it as simple as fruit snacks or a single chocolate chip? Or was it fear of a punishment?


Rebecca said...

well, Paul was completely different as I've told you. For about six months, I gave two M&Ms for each time he went poop in the toilet, and one M&M for each pee. (Any more and it's just too much sweets, I think.) We read tons of picture books about potty training and watched movies. He liked the Bear in the Blue House episode on toilet training a lot. It focused on "listen to your body." One week he decided he wanted to wear underwear ONLY and that was it.

I don't think punishment works so well. I don't think a three-year-old connects a time out with the action of going poop, for example. He just gets mad at you and maybe frustrated at himself for not succeeding. I think positive reinforcements are better. As in, you being cheery and excited and jumping up and down and exaggerating and so forth. (Ryan made SO MUCH FUN of me.) Let him go around with out any underwear -- or only underwear -- and watch him for the cues. Paul would stop playing, even briefly. Some kids crouch over, or run to a corner, etc. THAT's when you jump in and say "yeay! It's time to run to the toilet! Let's race!"

Anyway, I think the hardest part is learning to listen to his body, and it sounds like that bit hasn't "clicked" yet. It's just too frustrating because he doesn't KNOW when he needs to go until it's too late. And so he's constantly disappointing you. OF COURSE he won't want to wear underwear. It makes a mess and it's frustrating!

This probably doesn't help at all, but there you have it anyway.

Thom and Jamie Stansfield said...

we just dropped diapers all together. I think everything is worse in panties! He is super stubborn that is for sure! Good luck!

Joy said...

Rachel was super stubborn about it for a while too. What worked for her was a new car seat. We bought it and put it where she could see it but couldn't sit in it. When she did well we would let her 'try it out' in the living room. After a week of being clean she got to have it in the car and she LOVED it; never went back. I'm not saying it will work for you; you just have to find that one thing that he REALLY wants more than anything else and it'll do it. Good luck, it's never a fun experience!!!

Unknown said...

Cameron was insanely stubborn. We tried EVERYTHING!!! After a while I simply gave up.

Shortly before he turned four (yes, four!) I learned that my SIL had potty trained her daughter, who was 1 1/2 years younger than Cameron. That bothered me. I told Cameron about it and asked if he wanted to try going in the potty, too. And he did!

After that he was really good about going in the potty - pee and poop, day and night.

I think before he just wasn't ready, and I simply could not force it. Annoying, yes. But it was just frustrating everyone to keep forcing it. In the end, he knew when he was ready. And I think he has had far fewer accidents than other children who were trained earlier.

Be patient. When he is ready, he will let you know.