The Hugs-and-Kisses ApproachThe method: Each time your child uses the potty correctly, sing his praises by clapping and giving kisses and hugs. Also take special care to point out his accomplishments to friends and relatives, so they can fuss over him too.
Pros: Internalized rewards build self-esteem, and kids usually relish attention from a parent more than any toy.
Cons: Well, none really. If it does the trick, bravo.
Who it worked for: "Our daughter Taylor has always wanted to please us," says Michele Devine, of Charles Town, WV. "So when she was about 2, we made a big deal out of using the potty and asked her grandparents to help us reinforce it. Four months later she was completely trained. Now she's 6 and is doing the same thing for her 2-year-old sister."
Is it right for you? Words of encouragement are always a smart choice, regardless of the parenting task at hand. "Toilet training should be born out of an innate desire for competence and independence," notes Lerner, "and praise is the best way to encourage that." In other words, it's to every parent's advantage to start with this approach and save the tangible rewards for any hurdles you and your toddler may encounter along the way.