Monday, August 11, 2008


The other day I was talking to my sister about potty training. She is probably a year and half away but its never too early for research I guess. After talking I decided I wanted to justify my use of candy on potty training. (Not justify to her, the whole blogging world, I know this post is about 2 months late.)
Fact, I bribed my son with food
Fact, I bribed my son with a pack of fruit snacks to use the potty.
Fact, he very clearly learned in less than a week how to say "fruit snacks, potty treats". Clear enough that his single uncle understood him without anyone telling him. He even sang a songs about it.
I know it is socially taboo to do either of those things now, its bad to bribe with food, it leads to obesity apparently. Its bad to give my child candy in general let alone for a bride.
This is why I did it, because I had seen it work before. (I'll leave the parties innocent, but I had seen it work first hand.) Also my mom told me to do it, I figured I turned out alright so why not. Here is the other reason I quickly realized it was the only thing that worked. I tried not to be socially taboo, he was only going to get a tic tac for BMs and stickers for pee. That didn't work, my son's father and his father before him are trained economists, my son naturally understands economies too well, he LOVES stickers, but it wasn't worth a detour to the potty for him. Fruit Snacks where the only thing that worked.
So we stuck with them for 3 boxes. I had bought more but in a fit of desperation I let my son pick out his potty treats in the store. He picked out life savers and gummy worms. Thats when we downgraded. From a pack of fruit snacks to one gummy worm, two for stinky stuff. He seemed perfectly content with the downgrade. I bought more gummy worms for a while, but then I decided to use my candy stores, which included old easter cadbury eggs (now Teresa is wondering how I had any left over, I can never eat a whole bag.) Then my grandma gave me left over jelly beans, and they became potty treats. Then those got low, so we added M&Ms. Still two months later after potty training and my son still gets an M&M if he goes potty, and two if he if its dirty. (I have only had two accidents during the move, one when I was in the shower, and one when I ignored the yells of "Ma Ma Ma" because we were on different floors, with a tract record like that during high stress I have no desire to abandon the sugar.) I'm sure current child psychology would say that is awful, but heck my son eats less candy now then before he potty trained.
Now he only candy when he goes potty, and before he potty trained I was sick and pregnant in my first trimester so he basically got candy whenever he asked because I felt too crappy to hear him cry. Not to mention, he only goes about 5 times a day, and he doesn't always remember to ask for a treat, so he is probably get maybe 5 grams of sugar a day, probably more like 3. He gets more sugar during breakfast than he does from pottying in the toilet. (I know its terrible my son doesn't eat plain oatmeal, or plain bran for breakfast but its the truth, I don't either, plus I would bet none of you do either.) Normally we eat yogurt for breakfast, and we started buying the more healthy kind but none the less it is not plain. Even when he eats healthy cereal its still has some sort of sugar or honey to make it palatable. Although we rarely buy "sugar cereals."
You may ask why I don't wean him from the potty treats, I've vaguely tried, at least thought about trying. But there is still plenty of times each week, when my son is doing the potty dance, and the only way he is willing to go to the potty is after I say potty treat. Even if he went 20 times a day, like me, I think I would still be ok with the m&ms. I don't think 20 grams of sugar is going to make him diabetic, and I have consciously tried to cut out other sugars from his diet because of the potty training.
As my husband would say its all about incentives. Humans do anything if you give them the right incentive. Adults are no different, although sometimes we require different incentives, there are plenty of times treats work on me too. The other thing I've figured out is the incentives have to be immediately, something in the future after multiple trips to the potty do not work for my son. But I am the same way, if I practiced the piano 4 days a week for a month my mom was going to take me out of ice cream, or buy me a new shirt, really anything I asked. You know how many times I got that incentive? Never, it was too far in the future for me. But I guarantee you, every time my mom told me she would do my dishes if I praticed for a full 30 minutes without interruptions I did it. Apparently my son is the same way. He also needs the potty treats in full view from the toilet, so I place them on a high shelf in plain view. It makes it tricky when we aren't at home, which maybe part of the reason he has a hard time focusing, he keeps craning his neck to find the potty treats.


  1. Treats are my next plan of attack. My friend finally caved and used treats to train her daughter on #2. She said it took two days after months of trying.

    It's perfect to think of what will actually be enough of a reward to get him to go.

    I don't know if candy would do it. Would small brownies be too much?

  2. I am only wary of candy because my son had about $3000 worth of dental work by the time he potty trained. My daughter doesn't seem to have the same teeth problems, so when we start potty training up again in a few months she'll be getting treats. Water balloons worked for a while, but then she stopped caring about them, her favorite part was running naked afterwards and would refuse to put any kind of pants or diaper back on...I couldn't take it and stopped encouraging her to go on the potty. So we will start all over with sugar, and we'll even use the little potty which she is so excited about and I absolutely hate to clean.

  3. I would say start with small brownies, and after awhile downgrade to small pieces of chocolate. I mean I started with a whole pack of fruit snacks. We normally eat one pack together maybe once a month.