Potty Training without processed treats

When I was little, my sister and I were potty trained using the bribe method. If we “went” as we were supposed to , there was a jar of m&ms waiting on us to take one (or two) as was appropriate.

Now that my son (3 1/2, soon to be 4–probably should write “3 3/4 at this point). Anyway, as he is approaching potty training (2 whole days and only one accident! yay!) We didn’t want to give him food treats for being good. Two reasons there:

1) He is already naturally leaning towards not “caring” about food unless he’s hungry. Unlike his mother (me) who is trying to overcome things like social eating and stress eating, he will volunteer to walk away from food when he’s no longer hungry, as well as pass up eating when there’s something cooler to do. To me, this seems like the healthiest way to approach food–and I didn’t want to mess that up by TEACHING him to reward himself with food. I have my demons, but they shouldn’t have to be his demons.  (right?)

2) Obviously, m&ms are processed. Very, very, processed. Don’t even get me started on the roaches in red dye. Gross. (ready for a tangent? I watched the old Dustin Hoffman? Steve McQueen movie “Papillion” and in it they talked about how butterfly wings are used to make the blue ink in ink pens. !!! whaaat??) I’m laughing at myself over the roach-gross out since here are likely so many animal products around my house. Baby steps.)

Back to the food.

We didn’t want Elliot’s treats to be food related. Really, we didn’t want to even do real food because of our primary reason (See #1 above). So we did checkboxes. Yes. Here, I’ll show you.

IMG_3506 First, we made the potty chart with notebook paper and a marker. I just drew boxes. I labeled it to be cute, but you could leave it blank. I tacked it to the wall at his level, so every time he “goes” he gets to put a checkmark himself.


Here’s an up-close look at the potty chart, and the cute, precious letter “x”s my son’s been drawing. (shameless mommy pride)


Sometimes if a checkmark isn’t enough incentive to come “try” to potty (or particularly the second kind of potty-going has been hard to learn, we will give stickers. We like Bearnstein Bears.


This is what E was doing while I was taking pictures of the bathroom for you guys. The lawn care guys are here today, and I couldn’t talk him into smiling for you 🙂 haha. Next time!        After 5 checkmarks, we go to the Library–his favorite place. They have computers and a puppet center, not to mention TONS of books (he loves to “read”), so he loves going. It’s a long way from our house to the library, so we make that his special treat whenever he goes to the potty 5 times. One checkbox for tee-tee, two checkboxs for poopie (call it what you will, this worked for us–lol), and 5 checks gets a library trip. We’re actually going tonight after Daddy gets home!! Yay us! This will be our second day of official training, and we’re doing ok. We have gone all day with no tee tee accidents, but are holding out it seems on being able to poo in the potty. Advice moms?

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