Kids love stickers… FACT! I remember taking my little ones to various groups and the highlight was always when the stickers came out at the end. Actually, thinking back even further I can vaguely remember the feeling of pride when I got a gold star at school myself (I’m sure it happened once!).
When we carried out our research, parents said they used sticker reward charts for many aspects of parenting with over half of the parents we questioned saying that they had used reward charts during potty training because it kept their child motivated and helped highlight progress.
We have developed a reward chart specifically for potty training and based on our own experience and speaking to other parents we have a few tips for using it.
Keep the reward charts handy
The first thing we learned is that kids like instant gratification and so it’s good to have the reward chart close to hand, so when potty training it’s an idea to put it up in the bathroom. This also helps make the bathroom a more appealing and child friendly place to go.
Don’t be too rigid
We deliberately didn’t put days of the week on our chart because we didn’t want people to feel like they had to wait until next Monday to start the process. Also, in the eyes of a two year old, a day is a long time. We think it’s best to start with smaller timescales. Reward number one may be earned after keeping dry for an hour, but this time next week it may be that staying dry for half a day is how your little one gets their sticker.
Also, your child may like the stickers to go on the chart but some may also want to put them on their clothes or on their potty. If you prefer you could use a marker to draw a smiley face or a big check on the chart. Go with whatever works for them!
Reward small successes to start with
Our reward chart has lots of different milestones that help towards fully independent potty training. In the early days, the child may struggle with some of the more advanced aspects but it’s still a good idea to reward the areas they can do, e.g. washing hands. Initially, you may also reward trying, as it’s good to give them a chance to get some early wins so that they are motivated to fill their chart.
For some children the sticker / smiley face is a sufficient reward for success but you may decide that you would also like to introduce another reward alongside the stickers. This may be a material reward, or it may be an experience such as a trip to the park or special play time with friends, family or pets! Every family, quite rightly, will have their view of what is appropriate and the only criteria you should worry about is if it will motivate your child.
Finally, we’re always encouraging people to stay positive and reinforce good practice, so we feel it’s important that any accidents are simply ignored. Focus on the positive. Use your smiley face / stickers to reward good potty training behavior, and don’t even mention when things go wrong.