Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lesson #6: Ya Do What Ya Gotta Do (also known as Bribery)

It's a dirty little word but we all do it sometimes: Bribery. You know why we do it? Because it WORKS. Granted, it ain't gonna solve yer problems long term, but when your back's against the wall-ya do what ya gotta do. (Of course, before I had kids this was one of those XYZ's that I was never going to do-see Lesson #1.)

If you don't have children, a candy jar is probably not part of your bathroom decor. Maybe if you do have kids it isn't either and we're just freaks, who knows. In any event, last fall my mother waltzed in and presented said candy jar and some really badass stickers to my 3 year old in an attempt to prevent him from shipping off to college still wearing a Pull Up. Everything I learned in the course of earning my fancy degree in Early Childhood Education told me that extrinsic motivation was probably not the way to go, but with a new baby at home whose bodily functions I was also in charge of, I thought "Why not?". (Well, actually I thought "MOTHER WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!!!!" but the deed was done so my next thought was "Why argue".)

The pottying got easier, though I'm not sure it was so much the candy and stickers as it was his readiness to stop doing the do in his pants. After awhile he didn't care about the stickers and we only gave them to him if he asked. Then we were able to ween back and offer the M & M's only when he did numero dos. I patted myself on the back as I channeled BF Skinner (or was it Pavlov? I wasn't paying THAT much attention in college) and thought of how effectively we were reinforcing the desired behavior. Before we knew it, he'd be going on the potty all the time and we could keep the food in the kitchen where it belonged!

A few weeks ago the M & M well started running dry so we told him that when the M&Ms were gone, he would just get stickers for pooping on the potty. He seemed cool with it so I didn't give it another thought. He was doing so well, even wearing underwear during naps (at child care-I ain't going there, no way baby!), and I dared to hope that we were finally reaching that light at the end of the potty training tunnel.

As it turns out, that light was attached to a freight train headed right at us. Oy. The last couple of weeks the kid has been pooping in his underwear like it's the Tour de France and he's Lance Freakin' Armstrong. After being up to my elbows in crappy toilet water FOUR TIMES the other day (no I don't know why he was pooping so much, probably just to make my hair turn gray prematurely) I was desperate. I found myself saying, "If you go poop on the potty I bet I could find some chocolate!" He stopped whining and his eyes immediately lit up as he said (in a straaaange voice), "Chocoate chips?!!!"

And you know what?  It worked.


  1. I utilize "compromise" to get what I want! example, "If you eat 3 pieces of meat, you can have a chocolate chip!"

  2. Hey, whatever works...seriously with two of them you'll be lucky to get out of life alive! ;)

  3. I cannot wait until mine is old enough to understand the concept of bribery!