Toddlers and Praise and Rewards…Oh My!


Toddlers, Praise and rewards blog (3)

As parents, we are always busy looking for the best way to motivate our children to accomplish tasks or to behave properly.  We want our children to learn responsibility and respect.  We also want them to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem and pride.  But how do we go about encouraging them in these tasks or desired behaviors?

Children, especially toddlers, want to be independent and start doing things for themselves.  As parents, our goal is to guide our children to make good choices and to ultimately take care of themselves.  This is why any program that helps children to be successful at accomplishing these tasks or being responsible for their own behaviors will lead to increased self-esteem and pride in their accomplishments.

The BEST motivator for a child is this sense of accomplishment and pride.  I remember each of my children seeking me out at award assemblies at school or looking back to see if I was watching when they were able to ride a bike.  Smiling ear to ear, so proud of what they had accomplished.   As a parent, the BEST REWARDS you can give your child are PRAISE and affection for every little success or a job well done.

Most new tasks will take time to master and the praise for trying while they are “in training” is just as important.  This will help to motivate them to continue to reach their goal.

Make sure that the praise is specific and that your don’t praise every little thing.  Children will know when you are just saying, “good job,” and don’t really mean it.

Take the time to give them your undivided attention.  Make eye contact, give them a hug or a high five and  say,  “I like the way  you tied your shoe with out getting frustrated,” or “that is a beautiful picture you made for me. I am going to put it on the wall right now!”  Stand back and soak up the beautiful smile you will see on your child’s face!

Praise, high fives, hugs

Most children will be motivated by some kind of reward.  As parents, we know our children better than anyone. When we went them to do a certain task or we are trying to help shape behavior, we can try different rewards or methods to see what will work best for our children.  Some children like small tangible rewards like stickers or small toys.  Others respond better to treats or special activities.

I also recommend that you engage your child in helping to create this reward program.  Ask them what they would like to have as a reward.  Let them be part of making the chart or putting a star on the chart or a check mark on the list of chores when it is done.

Visual Charts are a MUST  so that they can see what is expected of them or they can be reminded of what you want them to do.  It may be a checklist, calendar or pictures that show them what to do.

(chore charts available on and potty training charts available on

Many parents are successful with some sort of token system.  (some use sticker charts or marbles in a jar etc…)  Children like to see their progress toward a goal and when they can visualize this progress, it motivates them to keep going.  If they can’t see the progress, it may seem like an eternity until they get a reward and they may become discouraged.

It is important that you don’t make the goal too difficult, especially in the beginning.  If  they are able to earn a reward soon after starting a program, they will feel good about themselves and “buy into” the program.

Whether it is potty training, doing chores around the house,  or a specific behavior you are trying to reinforce, you will be amazed at how well your child will make progress when they are allowed to be part of their own learning process.

Remember that when trying to encourage independence and good behaviors, your child is in training.  As in learning anything new, it will take time.  Expect setbacks or mistakes.  Think of these as a way to teach your child that everyone makes mistakes,  and that is ok.  It is how we all learn.   How you react to those mistakes or little accidents will teach them a lot about interacting with others.  Always encourage and praise and never reprimand a child that is trying to learn something new.

As parents, we have such an awesome responsibility in raising our children to become confident, independent, caring, respectful and well-adjusted human beings.  If we accept the challenge, and we do it right, there is no greater reward  than that!

By  Jill Leech

Posted in Parenting Your Toddler, Potty Training Tips and Tricks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips for Taking the Power-Struggle out of Potty Training




As a mother of three children, you would think that by child #3  I would have had the toilet training thing down pat!  Right?  I couldn’t  have been more wrong!

Every child is different, and with my third child, I was having issues with her “strong will”.  Every child goes through what they call the “terrible twos”, but remember this is a normal part of development.  Toddlers are trying to assert their independence, while still being dependent on you as the parent.  They can go from cuddle to conniption in a matter of minutes.

They try to deal with their emotions, like frustration, sadness or anger, without having the language skills to fully express what they are feeling.  And they haven’t mastered how to regulate or control their behaviors yet.  This is why they often have meltdowns or tantrums.

With all of these challenges in toddlerhood,  how do you help your child to navigate something as stressful as potty training?

As a teacher, I know that all children learn best when they clearly know what is expected of them, can be shown what to do,  and when learning is FUN.

Here are some tips to take the power-struggle out of potty training your toddler:

  • Children naturally learn by observation and mimicking behaviors.  Toddlers learn best when you  model what you want them to do.  With potty training, it can be a parent or older sibling that they look up to that demonstrates the steps of toilet training in the bathroom.   Just make sure that you allow the toddler plenty of opportunities to do things by themselves.  The more they feel that they have some control, the less they will resist.  And remember to give them a whole lot of praise!
  • Most children are visual learners.  While it is important to show toddlers what is expected by modeling, it is just as important to  have some kind of visual reminder. An illustrated potty training chart that shows the steps to toilet training using pictures is a great resource! Toddlers can identify the sequence of pictures and follow along independently.  This takes the power-struggle out of potty training because you are not having to constantly remind your toddler of each step.  Toddlers feel a sense of confidence in their newfound independence and this builds self esteem.  It’s a win-win.
  • The natural next step is for the toddler to want to be the expert!  This is why having little dolls or favorite stuffed animals potty train alongside your toddler is a wonderful idea!  The toddler wants to be the teacher, and in doing so, is practicing the steps to potty training.  This allows them to feel in charge and feel good about what they have learned by helping to teach a little friend what to do.
  • Toddlers also love stories.  Potty Training books, toilet training DVDs or potty training apps that have a social story about toddlers learning potty training are great for toddlers to feel that they are not alone in the process.  They identify with the character(s) of a story and are more likely to follow along with these new found friends.
  • Make Potty Training FUN!  Let your toddler “set up shop” in a bathroom.  Let them be part of placing their toddler potty, hanging the potty chart and filling a basket with some small toys and books that will help them pass the time while they are conducting their business! Music is also a great motivator for mood!  So if you can find a potty training song , that would be a BONUS!
  • Allow children to help you to develop  potty training rewards that will work for them. If they feel like they have some say in the process, they will be more likely to “buy in” to what you are trying to get them to do.  Some parents use a favorite little treat or small sticker or prize.  Others have found success with fun activities or games.
  • Remain Calm and Potty On! And never forget a sense of humor! This has helped me with more than potty training and it will help you too!

Happy Potty Training!

Jill Leech

Mom, Educator and Creator of the Potty Tots Potty Training Program

Jill in Potty Tots Booth SD

“To think it all started with a little potty chart!”

Jill Leech

Posted in Parenting Your Toddler, Potty Training Tips and Tricks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Reasons we need Real HUGS!

Like many of you, I am a parent at home right now, trying to navigate the new world of  “staying safe at home”.    With all that is going on these days, many of us have come to realize the importance of our social needs and networks.  We are missing our friends and extended families.  We are so fortunate to live in a time where we can keep in touch with FaceTime or other video calls, but this doesn’t come close to seeing our loved ones in person and giving them a nice long hug.  “Virtual hugs” just don’t cut it! 

The Benefits of  Real Hugs! 

  1. Hugging gives us a sense of security.  As human beings we need the comfort of our loved ones around us.  This sense of security is  especially important for our children.  Hugs can be medicine and pure magic, melting away tension and giving a sense of belonging, acceptance and love.
  2. Hugging is scientifically proven to reduce the stress hormone cortisol.  Parenting can be stressful.  So can being a toddler, especially navigating the world of the “terrible-twos.” Remember that toddlers are learning and growing at an incredible pace!  They are trying to make sense of the world around them and trying to assert some independence. Emotional meltdowns are common, as they do not yet understand their feelings and  are not yet able to regulate their behavior.  Hugs can work wonders to physically calm them down and to feel safe in your arms.
  3.  Hugging also increases the happy hormone serotonin, which increases production of  oxytocin!  Can’t get that from FaceTime!
  4. When a child is having a bad day or feeling misunderstood, sometimes a hug is the best way to say that you care and you validate their feelings.  Believe me, I’ve been there when my child was having a meltdown and I wanted to lock myself in the bathroom!  Try saying this instead… “do you need a hug?  Amazing how much that will help you both to calm down.
  5. Hugging can actually help strengthen the immune system.  Medical studies show that a gentle hug stimulates the thymus gland, located under the sternum,  this can help with the increased production of white blood cells, thus boosting immunity!  Now that’s a Prescription we can all take everyday!

A hug is a wonderful thing that you can give away and get immediately in return.  So whether it be a big bear hug, a side hug, or a group hug, we could all use a REAL HUG about now!


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Potty Training Tips for the Summer Months

With the summer close at hand, if you’ve been holding off on potty training your little one, it’s time to change that and plunge right in.


Because the summer can be quite awesome for potty training toddlers and preschoolers. Yes, that’s right. Read on to find out how and why:

1. Plenty of Liquids Means Plenty Of Pee

Yes, hot days means drinking up a lot of water and other fluids. Which in turn, makes going to the bathroom easy-peasy. Kids will want to pee more often and that is a good start to your potty training routine.

2. Dressing Lightly Means Noticing When You Need a Change

Also, summer clothes are lighter and there are no layers to keep a child cozy even when wet. As a result, an accident is likely to be noticed both by your little one and you. Again, a big win for starting potty training.

3. Eating Summer Fruits and Veggies Keeps Constipation at Bay

The summer season is a bountiful season filled with delicious fruits and healthy, fibre-rich veggies. Encourage your toddler to snack on these by incorporating them in salads, wraps, jellies, pizzas, smoothies, ice lollies and other kid-friendly snacks. Eating a fibre-rich diet will keep constipation at bay and make potty training a lot easier.

4. More Potty Training Tips for the Summer

Here are some essential potty training tips to ease both you and your toddler into potty training this summer:

• Always carry a change of clothes or two when you’re going out.

• Ask your toddler if he needs to visit the bathroom 10 minutes or so after he’d had a drink or eaten a meal.

• Encourage your toddler to tell you when he’s wet or when he wants to go to the bathroom. Watch for cues.

• If you’re traveling during the summer vacation, make sure you carry your toddler’s potty so that he doesn’t have to get anxious about using a strange potty chair in a hotel room.

• Don’t withhold liquids so that he doesn’t have to pee, especially during a road trip. Take frequent rest stops instead.

Do you have potty training tips that have helped you toilet train your baby during the summer season? Share it with the Potty Tots community on Facebook and Twitter and help other parents potty train their tots.

Post by Prerna Malik, resident Potty Tots blogger and mama to a Potty Tots fan!

Photo Credit: Jenny Cu

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Simple Summer Fun Ideas: How to Enjoy Summers with Your Preschooler {Round Up}

Ahh… summer! Long, lazy days. Cool, refreshing drinks. Splashfests and ice-creams. Yes, summer can be a lot of fun.

But you can still get stuck for ideas when it comes to spending day after day after day in the house with the kids.

So, the Potty Tots team put on their thinking caps and dug up with the following summer fun ideas to get you inspired:

  1. Summer Mom and Me Activities  on the Potty Tots blog
  2. Planning for Summer Vacation by The Momiverse
  3. 12 Summer Activities for Kids by Wonder Time
  4. 50 Summer Crafts for Kids by The Long Thread
  5. 5 Summer Crafts for Children by Sidetracked Sarah
  6. Activities for Kids All Summer Long by Mommy’s Little Helper
  7. Summer Fun Crafts for Preschoolers by Playing House
  8. Summer Learning Activities by Cool Baby Kid
  9. 30 Fun Craft Sites to Keep Your Toddler and You Busy This Summer by The Mom Writes

AND finally,

A Free Summer Fun eBook by Life Your Way

Yes, armed with these resources, you will have everything YOU need to rock the summer season with your preschoolers in tow. From making coffee filter flowers to whipping up tasty snacks to planning a quick but refreshing vacation, you will have tons to do and plenty of inspiration whenever you get stuck!

So, how will YOU be spending the summer days with your preschoolers? Go ahead and share. 

Top Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov

Posted in Kids' Activities and Ideas | Tagged | 1 Comment

Fun Ideas for Father’s Day: Simple Ways to Make Dad Feel Special and a Cool Contest

Whoo! June is off to a sunny start, isn’t it?

Father’s Day is right around the corner and since we had so much fun sharing fun Mother’s Day activities, it is only natural that we’d want to talk about fun ideas for Father’s Day.

Here are some simple and sweet ways to make Dad feel really special and loved:

1. Make a Cool Card for Dad

Well, the easiest and also, the sweetest thing that kids can do is make a special card for Dad. Set your toddler up with some paint and cardstock and let him make a handprint card and then, initial his name inside, after you write a special message.

If painting is not your toddler’s cuppa milk, let him stick on a photo of Dad and him on the front of the card; or paste bits of paper in the shape of a football, baseball or whatever is Dad’s favorite sport.

2. Dad and Me Day

This is another super-simple way to make Father’s Day special. Let father and kids hang out together the whole day while you hang back from checking, complaining or nagging. Let them do what they’d love to do together. Whether it is watching a movie or playing in the pool or heading out to the mall for some toy shopping and ice cream eating, let the kids have a whole day with Dad doing just what both of them like.

3. Create a Father’s Day All Year Round Calendar

You know how Dad carries a photo of the kids in his wallet and whips it out all the time, well, take it a step further and along with the kids, choose some photos of them and Dad, and compile it into a photo calendar for his office or desk. If you need a cool deal as well, check out Lifephoto who’re offering a FREE photo calendar to everyone on their FB page!

4. Make a Father’s Day Meal

They say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. This Father’s Day, let the kids make Dad feel special by cooking him a special meal, with your supervision, of course. It can be something as simple as sandwiches and smoothies or homemade cookies and milk, but let it be a meal in which the little ones are involved, all the way through.

 How will you be making Father’s Day special for the most special man in your kids’ life?

And now, onto a super cool contest!! **drumroll**

We’re looking for a Potty Tots Look-a-Like. If your little one can see herself or himself as any one of the Potty Tots {see them above!}, simply upload a photo or video of them (preferably with the Potty Tots book or video on in the background!) on our Facebook page and we’ll pick TWO winners: One Boy and One Girl!

The Prizes:

Winners will receive a full potty training kit, complete with the Potty Tots DVD, book and chart!

Two Runners-up will get a FREE potty chart of their choice!


Open to residents in the US only

Open till 06/15

Winners will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond to claim their prize.

Potty Tots is not responsible for shipping delays or damage in transit.

Post by Prerna Malik, resident Potty Tots blogger and mama to a Potty Tots fan

Top Photo Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt

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Fun Books to Read This Summer With Your Preschooler

With the summer holidays fast approaching, chances are you’re gearing up to spend a lot of time indoors with your little ones. {Check out our posts on fun activities for mommies and kids for some more inspiration.}

Reading, however, can be a great way to spend those hours and escape into a world filled with laughter, fun and tons of enjoyment. Yes, grab a book, snuggle up with your kids, a pitcher of something chilled and get reading!

Here is a list of books that your preschooler and you may enjoy reading this season:

Dr. Seuss’s Beginner Book Collection 

A boxed set of 5 most-loved Seuss classics including Green Eggs and Ham, Cat in the Hat and One Fish Two Fish, this is a collection that is bound to make reading hour fun and lively!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle 

A treasured classic, this book is a summer favorite as it follows a hungry caterpillar eating his way through the book as he moves towards becoming a butterfly. A great book that can help kids learn counting, days of the week as well understand the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

A sweet, simple and funny read, this book follows the pleading and wheedling of a pigeon wanting to drive a bus. Accompanied with award-winning artwork, this is a children’s book that will make you, the grown-up, laugh out loud as well.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems

Another priceless gem from Mo’s pen, this book is an adorable and again, funny tale of a toddler’s trip the Laundromat and then, forgetting her precious bunny behind. Her sweet but gibberish-like attempts to explain to her confused father only leads to a meltdown. The book explores how tough it can be for both grown-ups and pre-verbal children to communicate in a light-hearted and sweetly sentimental way.

Do you have anything lined up for summer reading with your preschooler? A family favorite? A treasured classic? Do share with us in the comments or join the Potty Tots on The Potty Tots Facebook Page or follow them on Twitter and let’s swap ideas!

Post by Prerna Malik, the resident Potty Tots blogger and mama to a Potty Tots Fan and budding bookworm.

Photo Credit: Madgerly

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Mom and Me Activities: Fun Ideas to Spend the Summer Days Together

With summer fast approaching and the days getting longer and hotter, chances are the kids and you will be spending quite a bit of time together, indoors. Here are some fun ideas to spend the summer days together, bonding and enjoying the season:

1. Host an Ice-Cream Play Date

Ooh, this should be a lot of fun. Gather your kids’ friends, put out some ice cream tubs in favorite flavors, cookies and cake slices, syrups and toppings and let them make their own sundaes and desserts. Yes, they will have a sugar high so you may want to plan some fun, energetic activities for afterwards.

2. Make a Summer Fun Collage Together

Stuck indoors because its too hot to go outside? Bring out those old magazines and cut out summer-themed pictures and then, make a huge collage. Preschoolers and kindergarteners can practice their cutting and pasting skills by doing most of the snipping and gluing independently but under your supervision.

3. Do a Summer Photo Shoot

When the temperatures aren’t soaring and you feel like heading out to the park or garden, carry your camera along and do a fun photo shoot. In fact, you can do this each time you’re outdoors and create a summer photo calendar, a photo book or again, a collage and have it framed. Check out Lifephoto, they’re offering a FREE photo calendar on their Facebook page!

In fact, this is a great idea to do indoors as well. Capture the ice cream play dates, the collage making, the reading sessions and the tickle fests on camera and relive the happy, sunny moments through the year.

4. Plant a Summer Garden

Whether you live in an apartment or a house with a yard, you can always plant a garden. Head to the nursery and pick summer plants that are relatively low maintenance and easy-to-take care of. Don a pair of gardening gloves and get digging and dirty. Kindergartners are especially fond of gardening because it lets them feel the soil and also, gives them a sense of responsibility. My daughter is extra particular about watering our few potted plants and making sure they’re clean and thriving.

Need some more ideas? Check out our last post on fun ideas for Mother’s Day. You can easily adapt them to any day of the year!

What fun mom and me activity ideas do you have for the summer?

Post by resident Potty Tots blogger and mama to a Potty Tots fan, Prerna Malik.

Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov

Posted in Kids' Activities and Ideas | 2 Comments

Fun Ideas for Mother’s Day: How to Feel Super Special as a Mom to a Preschooler

Yes, if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably mom to a toddler or preschooler and chances are they wouldn’t know how to celebrate Mother’s Day without a little guidance from you.

So, here are some simple tips to feel super special this Mother’s Day:

1. Snuggle Up Together in the Morning

Let Mother’s Day start with a smile and snuggle up in bed with your little one. Tickle, kiss, or just snuggle. Breathe in that toddler smell and hold on to it. Best way to start your day, isn’t it?

 2. Have Pancakes (or Brownies) for Breakfast

Your littles may not be able to make and bring you breakfast in bed but you sure can whip up a special treat or two. Have whatever is your favorite food for breakfast. Pizza in the AM, anyone?

 3. Let Your Toddler Dress You Up

Ahh, now this should be fun. Ask your kids to pick out your outfit for the day. To be safe, give them a choice between two outfits you’ve already picked. Help them find accessories that match and if you’re brave enough, suggest a lip color as well.

 4. Make Little Love Notes for Each Other

Have fun painting or glueing together alphabets and heart signs to make little ‘I heart you’ notes that your toddler can then take in his back pack or lunch box during the week. You can put yours up on the family bulletin board, the mirror and your wallet. Yes, I totally do that!

5. Hug Often and Say ‘I love you’

Finally, what makes Mother’s Day super special is being loved by our little ones. So, during the day, no matter how busy or crazy it may be, stop every now and then, kneel down, look your little one in the eye and tell them how much you love them and hug them. Tight.

How will you be making Mother’s Day special for your toddler and you this year?

Posted in Kids' Activities and Ideas | 2 Comments

{Contest} Making Hygiene Fun with Wett Giggles and the Potty Tots!

Here at the Potty Tots blog, we’re all about about having a lot of FUN with potty training, staying healthy and developing good hygiene.

That is why every month, we have a cool giveaway to help make your potty training journey easier and better.

This month, we’re thrilled to be partnering with a super-cute soap company, Wett Giggles. Owned by a mom who also makes the adorable animal and planet-shaped soaps, Wett Giggles is all about fun and good hygiene.

The Wett Giggles soaps are made of natural ingredients, essential oils and have a cute toy AND nail brush as well. Talk about clean hands!

Have you met the Wett Giggles? They all have cute Shakespearean names and lovely fragrances as well. Check ‘em out and you’ll know why they’re such a HIT with parents and kids, alike.

Now YOU can win a Wett Giggles soap just for your little one!

To enter:

Visit the Wett Giggles site and tell us which Wett Giggles soap do YOU like the most?

For additional entries:

Follow @pottytots and @wettgiggles on Twitter

Join the Potty Tots and Wett Giggles on Facebook

Sign up for our newsletter

Giveaway is US only and is open till 05/10.

So, go ahead, enter and make kiddie hygiene a lot of fun!

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