A friend of mine with a toddler recently asked on Facebook, “At what age do stickers stop working as an all-purpose bribe?”
My initial thought was, “Right about when they find out about sweets.” But I was wrong. Our eldest son is two and a half and we potty trained him in just a few days (or rather he practically potty trained himself) using a potty training sticker chart. There are plenty of free potty training sticker charts available online, but our chart has more of a chaotic feel to it.
Whilst a traditional potty training sticker chart might lay out a goal with milestones and expectations with only a certain number of slots available for stickers, we’re a little more loosey-goosey in this house. Ours is just a bunch of pieces of paper taped to the wall. Our son gets a sticker every time he pees, and two and an ice cream every time he poos.
In fact if he’s in a challenging mood we won’t even ask him if he wants to go to the potty, we’ll just ask him if he wants to earn a sticker.
A lot of the success of this strategy is due to this excellent sticker book from Melissa and Doug.
You can buy it from their online store her for $4.99 + postage and packaging and they have a whole collection of different books, including a pink sticker book for girls.
I love the attention to detail in these sticker books. On each page there are usually only a couple of duplicate stickers, but all of the stickers are large and colorful and sorted into themed pages. And the book contains 500+ stickers, so it’s less than 1c per sticker.
- Dinosaur themed stickers
- Construction themed stickers
- Creepy crawlie/ gross out themed stickers
- Knights and medievil themed stickers
- Space and Alien Themed stickers
- Fire and police rescue themed stickers
- Zoo animal themed stickers
- Racing car themed stickers
- Sports themed stickers
- Pirate themed stickers
Our son goes through one favorite theme after another as his tastes change.
Here are a couple of sample pages, so you can judge the design quality for yourself:
I’m convinced that using some kind of potty training sticker chart is a good idea – it’s good for their teeth for one thing.
But there are some advantages to not using a more tightly organized sticker chart when potty training.
With a more chaotic sticker wall, when a page is full we just tape another piece of paper to the wall and keep adding stickers – which is useful because you never really know with potty training how long it’s going to take.
There are different stages to potty training: using the potty; using the real toilet; transitioning from diapers to pants; pooping in the potty; asking to go to the potty before it’s too late; taking yourself to the potty. This way we’ve been able to reward at all stages and our bathroom is getting more and more colorful.
But the real reason that I like this way is that we’ve ended up with keepsakes that are entirely my son’s own creation – chaos and all.