Positive Reinforcement & Potty Training Toddlers

Using Positive Reinforcement for Potty Training Success!

In The Comprehensive Guide To Potty Training we touched on different potty training methods and went into more detail in The Comprehensive Guide To Potty Training Methods. This blog post is exclusively focused on positive reinforcement and explores the benefits of using incentives to motivate children during the potty training process backed by scientific and peer-reviewed studies. Since potty training can be challenging for both parent and child, it is always beneficial to be aware of any tool or method that may help during the most difficult times.

  • Understanding the Power of Positive Reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement has long been recognized as a powerful tool in behavioral psychology. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis1. positive reinforcement, such as incentives, can significantly increase the likelihood of desired behavior being repeated. By associating positive outcomes with specific behaviors, children are more likely to repeat those behaviors in the future.

  • Incentives Foster a Growth Mindset:

Research by Dweck and Yeager2. highlights the importance of fostering a growth mindset in children. Incentives can play a crucial role in this process by encouraging a belief that effort leads to success. When children see that their efforts are rewarded, they are more likely to develop a positive attitude towards challenges and learning.

  • Boosting Self-Esteem and Confidence:

Incentives can also contribute to the development of a child's self-esteem. A study in the Journal of Educational Psychology3. found that when students received rewards for their accomplishments, they reported higher levels of self-esteem and confidence. This positive reinforcement not only motivates children in the short term but also contributes to their long-term emotional well-being.

  • Incentives as Tools for Skill Development:

The use of incentives can be instrumental in skill development. According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology4. children who received rewards for engaging in educational activities showed greater improvement in cognitive skills compared to those who did not receive any incentives. This suggests that incentives can be effective tools for promoting learning and skill acquisition.

  • Fostering Positive Parent-Child Relationships:

Implementing an incentive system involves regular communication and collaboration between parents and children. This shared decision-making process has been linked to positive parent-child relationships, as noted in a study in the Journal of Family Psychology5. The mutual understanding established through incentive systems can contribute to a healthier and more supportive family dynamic.


In conclusion, the use of incentives in motivating children is supported by a wealth of scientific research. Positive reinforcement, growth mindset development, enhanced self-esteem, skill development, and improved parent-child relationships are just a few of the benefits. As parents, incorporating incentives into your parenting toolkit can not only make your life easier but also contribute to the holistic development of your child.

Remember, every child is unique, so it's essential to tailor your incentive approach to their individual needs and preferences. By leveraging the power of incentives, you can create a positive and motivating environment that sets the stage for your child's success.


  • Smith, G. S., & Iwata, B. A. (1997). Antecedent influences on behavior disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30(2), 343–375.
  • Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets that promote resilience: When students believe that personal characteristics can be developed. Educational Psychologist, 47(4), 302–314.
  • Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 125(6), 627–668.
  • Cameron, J., Pierce, W. D., Banko, K. M., & Gear, A. (2005). Achievement-based rewards and intrinsic motivation: A test of cognitive mediators. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(4), 641–655.
  • Stormshak, E. A., Bierman, K. L., McMahon, R. J., Lengua, L. J., & Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2000). Parenting practices and child disruptive behavior problems in early elementary school. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 29(1), 17–29.


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