Rewards for Potty Training are most often an M&M or a sticker. I've even heard of intricate systems and charts and graphs to dole these rewards out.
Here are my biggest problems with rewarding while potty training:
1. It's normal, expected behavior. While yes, I understand the principle behind positive reinforcement, I don't believe normal, expected behavior should be rewarded. I don't believe in rewarding for sleeping through the night or learning to walk or learning to tie shoes. I don't believe in rewarding children in school for listening and staying seated. I don't believe in rewarding normal household chores, like setting the table or picking up dirty clothes. When you start rewarding for expected, normal behavior, you start edging into entitlement. Real fast.
2. Rewards naturally amp up. One M&M may seem harmless but it's my overall experience that your child is going to want more. Very soon. Then you get into trouble.
3. It smacks of dog training; which I don't like. Incidentally, most dog trainers don't even use rewards for house training. They use rewards for "tricks"...or exemplary doggie behavior.
4. Power struggles. We all, as parents, get locked into a power struggle now and again. So...you want to add candy to that mix? I've seen horrible power struggles over THE CANDY...not even the task of putting pee in the potty. Why would you do that to yourself?
5. Good Morning, candy! Your child is bound to pee and/or poop in the morning. Candy? In the morning? Really?
6. Kind of lame. Even if you're not using candy...say a sticker...I don't know. A sticker just seems like a really lame reward for a big poop. A good poop IS the reward. I know I'm probably alone in this particular thought.
7. Sticker charts: I don't know many 2 years olds who grasp the full concept of "stay dry for 7 days and get a big toy". I think they grasp the big toy part but their thought process isn't developed enough to hold the concept for a length of time. Plus, your little reward ends up really being a big reward in the end.
8. When and how much? You back yourself into a really crappy corner with rewards. Say your child sits and doesn't produce? Do you still reward them? Because that often happens in the early days of potty training. Now...say you do choose to reward the sitting and the not producing. Do you think your child isn't going to figure that out? Like, really fast? He's not dumb, you know.
9. Meter Pee. I have actually seen children learn to meter out their pee to get more rewards. A little bit here, a little bit there. Don't get me wrong: awesome pee practice. But not what we're going for here.
10. Exit strategy. If you think you do want to potty train with rewards...what's your exit plan? When is it going to be just regular normal behavior and NOT something you reward? You might seriously want to think about it.
Listen. I know MANY people swear by rewards for potty training. Good for them. It doesn't resonate with me or my sense of parenting. I'm not judging...it's just not how I do things. Professionally speaking, I've seen more full blown disasters around rewards than I've seen around the actual potty training. You have been warned.
I also know for a fact: external rewards are fleeting. For all of us. The best reward is PRIDE IN SELF MASTERY. That's what's going to give you long lasting success. Give your child the gift of THAT; of responsibility and control over his own person. That's the beauty of this process.