10 of the Most Creative Potty Training Incentives


Potty training is pretty gross. What a pain in the rear (haha). Kids are, in general, kind of disgusting little people when you really stop and think about it. I will never forget the time that our now 4-year-old made it clear to us she was ready for some potty training by bringing us her diaper filled with poo and tossing it into our unsuspecting laps with a look of complete disgust on her face (insert subsequent gagging, burning of the clothes and showers here). And then there was a solid 6 month period of time in which our oldest, who will be 7 in less than a month) had to look at herself every time she went to the bathroom. This meant head down, bottom up and a stream of urine over the front of the potty (every single time) and all over her panties, pants and the floor.

But eventually everyone gets it and all is well – well, kind of. We’ve been parents almost 7 years and we have never once been diaper free in that time. By the time our oldest was potty-trained, our middle daughter was born. When she was potty-trained, our twins were born. Now they’re 15 months and we’re still dealing with potty training backlash with our middle – mainly her very firm opinion that toilet paper is not something she needs. Ever.

But nothing – nothing – compares to the horror of actually potty training. It takes forever. It’s tedious. And what works for one kid absolutely does not work for the other. Our oldest didn’t seem interested the first time we tried to potty train her. We tried it all. We gave up. Then we decided right before baby number two was born that we’d just stick her in panties and let her learn the hard way. A few accidents and she was using the bathroom like a champ. Our second daughter – well, let’s just say that we enrolled her in school and let her teacher potty train her (seriously, it was that bad). I fantasize at times that our approach with the twins is that one day they’ll just figure it out on their own, right?

With that in mind, some parents use the incentive technique with their kids. While it never worked for mine, I know some who use this and it works like a champ. So what we’ve done is scour the internet and the comments of parents of the world to find out what they used to make their kids’ potty training easier and much more enjoyable. Good luck and remember – they probably will not graduate in diapers.

Cheerios for Boys

No, not as a snack. One girlfriend of mine taught her 2-year-old to use the potty by sticking cheerios in the water and letting him aim for them. It was such a fun game he’d try to go potty as often as he could. It worked like a charm for him.

The M&M Incentive

Some kids love chocolate, and some kids love color. This means those kids typically love M&Ms, and that could work to your advantage. One way to potty train your child is to offer one for going number one and two for going number two and three for doing both. It does work well for little ones with a sweet tooth.

Jar of Goodies

This is a total Pinterest win. Write fun activities on popsicle sticks and put them in a mason jar. Every time your child goes to the potty three times in a row without an accident (I say this because picking an activity from here every single time is going to keep you busy!). The activities could be anything from play outside to color to bake cookies to go to the library to read a book to take a bubble bath. It’s fun and kids love this stuff.

Colored Water

A friend of mine saw this online and used it with her kids, and I’ve been seeing it everywhere ever since. She would put a little bit of food coloring her kid’s potty and they were also so excited to see what color was in there the next time around that they’d ask to go potty the second they felt it. The anticipation of using fun colored water was just perfect for them.

The Prize Bucket

Here’s one that really does work well for some kids. A little prize bucket with cheap toys in it works wonders. We don’t use this for potty training, but we do use this for good behavior. We put slinkys and plastic rings and little stuff like that in it and let the kids draw something from it when they do something really outstanding, like share a toy without being asked or when they help do something of their own accord.

The Reward System

One of the things we like to do with our kids is promise them a big reward when they do something for a long period of time, such as go potty before bed every single night and go a whole month without using the potty in their pull-ups. When we did this with our oldest, the prize was a Disney trip (we have annual passes and live an hour away, so it was an easy reward but she didn’t have to know that).

The Marble Jar

This is a cool idea I found online. What you do is tape photos of prizes to a tall container. Each time your little one uses the bathroom successfully, he or she gets to add a marble to the jar. When the marbles reach a photo, that prize becomes a reality. It’s a really fun incentive for kids.

A Potty Party

Imagine if your child goes a whole week or month or two weeks or whatever, without any accidents. This is a great idea for something big. Throw a party. Invite siblings and grandparents, have a cake and ice cream and celebrate potty success with a party. It’s a great way to show kids you are proud and also to reward them with something awesome.

Bribery Often Works

Some kids can be bought. If a child needs a little incentive with potty training, take them somewhere cool and let them try something fun. When they scream and don’t want to leave, remind them that they cannot come back until they are potty trained. It works well for some kids – worked for a friend and a bouncy castle.

Make a Big Kid Deal

When your child is potty training, give them a really good reason to want to do it. Make sure that they know this is the final step to becoming a ‘big kid’ and let them know that potty training means something special happens. Make it a rite of passage. Let them choose a big kid bed or redecorate their bedroom or something else that’s big and exciting that commemorates the occasion.

Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for IT’SUGAR


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