I'm Heather - lifestyle photographer & homeschooling mama. We choose simple and slow. Freedom and fresh air. And I like to make things beautiful.

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Potty Training | Bribing Without Shame

When we first started thinking about potty training Alice, we sincerely (and mistakenly) thought it would be easy. We'd just put her on the pot round the clock and she'd bloom with her new found sense of independence and dry undergarments. No bribing, no pleading, no begging. Those parents were clearly not in control, and I wasn't going to give my kid candy for using a toilet. I mean, it's a basic human function. Are we going to start giving prizes for breathing next?

Fast forward 9 months: Alice knows how to potty on the potty. She's been at it since right before Milo was born. But...then Milo was born. The rumored regression was real. She was no longer interested in using the potty. In fact, she refused. The slightest suggestion garnered a firm "No!" We tried charts. We tried stickers. We tried naked time so she'd know when she wet herself (didn't care, by the way). We took her every 30 minutes. We sang songs. We told stories. We praised. We scolded. We sat with her for hours. We even installed a special app you could call that told you what a good job you did! Nothing.

Alice grew resistant. We grew frustrated. Her poops got bigger. I got madder.

And then I brought out some new ammunition.

Behold: Fawn & Smarties

Yep, I am bribing my child.

I am now among the parents I had formerly judged as "weak." And I don't really care. It's not about weakness, it's about desperation - and strategy. There is an end goal, which is not changing the diaper of a 3 year old anymore, and I'm going to do everything I can to get there, even if it means using toys and candy as motivation. Not weak; smart.

This week, we are done with cloth diapers. Alice is wearing pull-ups and the deal is that if she keeps them dry so we can move into training panties, she gets her new doll. For every time she tells me she needs to go potty, tinkles on said potty, and washes her hands, she earns 3 smarties (one for each item). Poops = 4. In the last 6 days Alice has kept things dry 90% of the time. She tells me when she needs to go and beams while she's going. For this little girl, it's all about rewards - visual, exciting, immediate rewards.

Am I a terrible parent for lowering my standards and bribing her? Nope. I'm the clever one who won't be changing anymore of her giant diapers, and I've set into motion enough habits that will enable Alice to be a more independent little person. I'd say that's pretty darn great.

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