Hamsters & Haribo – A Parent’s Guide to Making Bribery Work

August 23, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Posted in Daily Life, Huggies Mums | 6 Comments
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Amongst the madness of daily life, the tensions of trying for a second baby, the demands of a business and the absence of a Daddy that works too many hours*, we’ve had two battles to overcome – a poo phobia, and a dummy addiction.

We tried to potty train bear at 2 1/2 years old around January of this year and this resulted in a total refusal to poo at all.  Full stop, no budging.  This developed into a hugely stressful scenario and the poo dance.  Which certainly attracted a few stares, as well as those incredibly infuriating ‘I think your child needs to go to the toilet’ comments from people who may have been trying to help but just came across as incredibly annoying and interfering.

We were lucky enough to be a part of a Huggies potty training day recently and met the very lovely Emma Kenny who was on hand to offer expert advice.  She gave us the following tips:

– Be cruel to be kind – put them on the toilet every time they need to go, even if they kick and scream.  Desensitise them from any negative associations they have with the potty or toilet.

– Make the bathroom more fun – decorate the walls, bring in toys and books.

– Use bribery – offer treats and rewards for success on the toilet – from a star chart to sweets.

So, we’ve been trying this for a few weeks now and although progress is slow, we had our first success this weekend – a poo in the nappy, yey! It may seem trivial however straight afterwards his little face dropped as he announced ‘I want to do it in the toilet and get my sweets’. So up the stairs we went, determination gripping him – and he tried to do a second poo to get the sweets.

Repetition is the key I believe – all day, every day, as bloody cumbersome as it is – but reinforcing the same messages over and over again does work.

I’ll keep you posted as we progress to the dizzy heights of big boy pants.

So, the dummy situation.  Bear is three now and we’ve tried numerous times to wean him off his dummy; he’s simply too old – I am not doing my Tesco shop with a seven year old with a dummy and a muslin square.  Ok so I sucked my fingers until my teens, but I had buck teeth and years of torment so this needs to end sharpish as far as I’m concerned.  He’s only had it at night for the past nine months but still, it has to go.

We tried offering rewards and incentives – we told him that Rasta Mouse’s baby mice needed his dummy to which he replied ‘mummy, mice don’t have dummies’.

We tried making him feel grown up and saying he was a big boy now to which he shouted ‘I am not going to be a big boy, I am a baby’.

And then, the Zhu Zhu hamster arrived.  To which we heard gasps of ‘Uuuuuuh mummy look it’s amazing wooooooow’ and ‘Ooooh mummy can I have it, please please please please’.

Zhu Zhu Pet Hamster Jinx

So we left it in the box and asked him to decide if he was sure.  We asked over and over and he said he was sure.  So we put the dummy in an envelope and posted it to a baby.

Come bedtime he wasn’t too sure about his earlier decision.  We did the yo-yo game of going in and out of his bedroom, reassuring and negotiating, relaying messages back to ‘the new baby’ on his behalf, and finally he slept.  And he slept all night.

And I said the inevitable ‘why didn’t we do this sooner?!’

So, my tips for making bribery work:

– Never, ever give in.  You cannot offer a reward and give it if they don’t keep their end of the bargain.  Ever.

– Have the promised treats to hand at all times, you never know where you will be when you need to keep your side of the deal.

– Don’t offer something you can’t deliver.

– Don’t say you’re going to take away a reward that you know they’ll get anyway – like a day out.

– Offer more than one chance to make a decision about giving something up in exchange for a treat so that they get used to the idea

– Don’t feel bad about offering sweets as rewards – rewards should be naughty and if they have a little of what they like they won’t crave it or behave badly in demanding for it.

– Brush their teeth extra well especially if Haribo sweets are rewarded at 6.59pm.

This is a sponsored post.  The Zhu Zhu hamster arrived magically through the post and Huggies arranged our day with Emma Kenny.

p.s. If you’re a friend and you fancy a ‘cute and quirky e-card’ so that you know I’m thinking of you this summer, just leave me a comment and I’ll let you know that I’m thinking of zhu...


* Points two and four may well be linked.



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  1. Some good tips. Tx.
    Who doesn’t like Haribo… it would probably still work as a bribe on me!

  2. I love the way you write 🙂 potty training… now that is not something I’m looking forward to! xx

    • Thank you that’s really kind! Potty training is an all consuming milestone, be warned!

  3. We did that with our oldest and the dummy. We asked him what he wanted and told him the dummy fairies would take his dummy’s to a new baby and leave him a present. So he went to his bed with no dummy and got the present in the morning, with a little letter from the dummy fairies. He never looked back. I will be doing the same in a few months with Tyler. x

    • It so works!!! And I think the time has to be right too, as we tried and failed numerous times before he agreed!

  4. What a lovely photo, glad you are smiling on through. Two really tough milestones. i am burying my head with my second and hoping he will teach himself to use the toliet. Consistency so true, but I am bad at that!

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