Parenting a Teen and Tot usually requires different, even contradictory methods. But every once in a while, you happen upon a technique that works for both. Recently, I found that dual magic with candy as a motivator. Well, to be forthright, it worked great with Teen, and Tot is still a work in progress.

Tot is having trouble getting the whole potty concept down. He does number one as long as you take him to the toilet; he never asks to go, so he occasionally he has accidents. Number two, however, is the bane of our potty-training existence. We’ve tried everything. All I can figure is that he just doesn’t care. Being wet or stinky doesn’t seem to phase him, and he’d much rather do that business in his room with the door closed and locked. At the suggestion of friends, I’ve resorted to bribing with chocolate. Maybe he’ll start going on the potty, if it’s worth his while. Reviews are mixed. While he has actually gone on the potty a couple of times, he still prefers his room to do the deed. However, he asks for chocolate any time he has product whether in the potty or his pants. So I have hope. At least, he’s associating chocolate with the action. Next step will be getting him to understand that he only gets his sweet reward, if he produces on the potty.

Teen has trouble staying focused on his schoolwork, especially with a subject that’s tedious or boring. The other day he was struggling with completing his Algebra II assignment. It wasn’t that he didn’t understand the concepts; it was that all of the problems required lengthy answers. It was taking him forever to finish each question. I poked my head into his room as he was bemoaning the monotony of it all.

“I’ll give chocolate chips every three problems,” I offered.

His eyes narrowed. He knew about the potty training bribes. It is a household effort, after all. “Are you trying to use positive reinforcement on me?”

“Is it working?” I asked.

He shrugged and picked up his pen. Yes, he does his math in pen. I don’t know why. Anyway, it was mere minutes before he was trotting into the kitchen for his treat. He came back three more times, but the work was done. And most importantly, I didn’t hear any more complaining.