dys·func·tion /dɪsˈfʌŋkʃən/ [dis-fuhngk-shuhn]–noun
1. Medicine/Medical . malfunctioning, as of an organ or structure of the body. 2. any malfunctioning part or element: the dysfunctions of the country's economy. 3. Sociology . a consequence of a social practice or behavior pattern that undermines the stability of a social system.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pros and Cons of the Reward System

So I'm half-trying to potty train my two year old.

By half-trying, I mean that a while ago I purchased a training potty for her. Since then she would sit on the potty (fully clothed) while I sat on MY potty, then she would try and pee before bath time, and then she got bored and stopped using it entirely.

I was/am completely fine with how this was going. When I bought the training potty she was not even 18 months old, but I had just found out I was pregnant with #2 and thought that it may be a good time to get her interested in things that would make my life easier.

Nowwwwwwww things are different. I would say that - on average - I am changing about 12 diapers a day. Don't get me wrong, I realize that a lot of people change around this many; perhaps mom's with 2, 3 or even more children still in diapers; mom's of multiples as well; but let's be honest....this is all about me.

I am determined that I will not force my kids into it. I will encourage, I will try to excite, but I will not force, and I will not discipline. Fear is not my idea of a proper tool to teach with.

So I realised about a month ago that Shake'n'Bake was become very versed in the things that her under-diaper-area does. This prompted me (an hour prior to my last court date) to purchase a cute little book that was another of a four book series about hygiene, and proper habits. She had already owned another one, (Pig Takes a Bath) and this book (Duck Goes Potty) was pictured on the back.

I LOVED the style that Pig Takes a Bath was written in. Short sentences, repetitive words, great messages. Shake'n'Bake was already "reading" this book by herself, since every page started with 'Little Pig...' and then she was able to remember the rest based on the pictures.

My thought was:
Pig Takes a Bath = Memory & Hygiene Lessons...therefore... Duck Goes Potty = Memory & Potty Lessons


I got the book and we spent a few days reading it. And rereading it. Over and over again.

So I started calling her Duck, like in the book, in reference to potty stuff. And she would laugh and laugh. She had one morning of pantlessness in which she peed on the potty almost every time, but she didn't really get into it.

So I decided to try the reward system.

NEVER in MY HOUSE will food be used as a reward.

My parents used food as a reward for me and my brother...ice cream if we were good while we were out, cookies if we behaved here, pizza if you did well with so and so; and at the end of the day, the only thing I learned was that if I do well at something, that I should reward myself with junkier food because I deserve it.

Junk food reward = fat.

I also became an emotional eater. It doesn't matter how you feel, because junk food gives me a sense of "ya did good kid".

So I hit up the local Dollar Store and bought a massive package of motivational stickers.

Shake'n'Bake now equates peeing on the potty with getting a sticker.

It is working FANTASTICALLY!

She's peeing on the potty minimum once a day right now.

And it's only backfired once: yesterday she peed on the potty, was given and then promptly lost her sticker. She was tired because it was almost bedtime, and cried that she had no sticker, so she tried to pee on the potty again in order to get another sticker.

She made a few faces and then announced "There's no more pee in me."
I gave her a bum label that I had.

I can't be rewarding emptiness, or encouraging her to pee every thirty seconds to buff up her sticker collection after all.

So the moral of this intensely long story issssssss:

The Reward System has bugs in it, but used properly I believe that it is a powerful and effective tool.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, and remember to pee on the potty!


Anonymous said...

I'm going to partly give credit of the potty training to the book I helped purchase. OK? OK!

We almost bought the potty book, but we just thought the bath book was cuter. :)
I'm glad that she likes it though.

dys·func·tion said...

She loves the bath book too! It's super fun to pretend she's a pig during bath time. :D

I just haven't gotten around to posting about bath time yet...not as interesting!