I didn't want to bribe my kids to get them to use the potty. I felt that it was something that was a normal part of life, that they'd be doing for the rest of their lives (or at least until they're in diapers again when they're old), and you shouldn't be bribed for doing something that is an everyday, normal thing. I also just don't want them to start expecting a bribe anytime they do anything I ask them to do. Or throwing a tantrum if they don't get a treat any time they do something they're supposed to. I can't even tell you how hard it is sometimes when Turtle is throwing a fit and I just want to say "PLEASE, just get in the car and I'll give you a cookie when we get home". It would make my life SO MUCH EASIER. But I don't do it. Because I know what will happen.
But anyway, after months of leaving potties around and asking a million times if they wanted to go potty and getting no results whatsoever, we let them run around naked a lot earlier this summer. Turtle figured out pretty quick when he needed to pee, but he still didn't want to use the potty and started fighting us when we asked him to wear underwear. The final straw was when he started asking for a diaper just so he could poop in it. Which I know, it's not abnormal to do that. But I wasn't sure if, with the right incentive, he could easily make the switch to the potty. I figured that by offering a cookie, he would take to using the potty if that's what he really wanted, and if he really didn't, he could give up the cookie, and no big loss.
So, we introduced a small cookie for peeing and a big cookie for pooping. With Turtle, it's worked great. He almost never has any accidents. We use diapers for naptime and overnight, which is fine. He also switched to using the toilet instead of his little potty, with no special attachments, almost immediately. Tadpole is another story. She continues to have accidents, sometimes several per day. She's not as motivated by sweets, which is also ok. She's getting it, in her own time.
One side effect to the cookie reward is that Turtle often wants cookies more often than he is able to produce anything, and that is frustrating to him. It hasn't gotten out of hand yet, but when he needs to pee, he'll often declare he needs to poop, too, in the hopes of getting a bigger cookie. The other day, we were at the table and he said to me "Mama! I have to pee!!!!" and we rushed down the hallway to the bathroom. On the way there, I heard him talking to himself, saying "I'm going to poop, and then I'll get a BIG cookie!"
He sat on the potty, and said "First, I'm going to pee", and he did. Then he said "Now I'm going to poop, so I'll get a BIG cookie!", and he tried. And tried. And I started getting a bit concerned, so I asked him if he really needed to poop or not. And finally he looked a bit disappointed and said "Fine. I guess I'll just have a little cookie", and gave a big sigh as he hopped off the toilet. I could barely contain my laughter.
(Just FYI, I do plan to mention to the doctor his over-willingness to try to poop in exchange for a cookie at their 3-year appointment next week).
(Also, all the dialogue was actually in Italian, I just translated it into English).