I have discovered the awesome power of M&Ms!
I tried and tried to potty train Preston. I tried a lot of different motivational strategies... the stickers, the stamps, the over-the-top praise, the new underwear, the "don't you want to be a big boy?" and probably others that I've forgotten about. He didn't care about any of that stuff. Finally, I hit on the idea of M&Ms. We set up a system where he got a certain number of M&Ms every time he used the potty, depending on how successful he was. That was a hit! Within a week he was potty trained to the point that when we unexpectedly had to take a road trip across two states, he made it there and back without a single accident!
Now I know that a lot of this could just be due to the fact that he was finally ready to use the potty, but I think the M&Ms helped a lot. This kid really loves his M&Ms.
Since we'd had such good success with M&Ms and potty training, I decided to use them to tackle another parenting problem I've been having with Preston. Every night, we go through our routine to get ready for bed, including bedtime snack, potty time, a little sippy of water in case he's thirsty, hugs, kisses, prayers, tuck-in. I try to cover all the things that he uses to stall going to bed. It's a routine that works beautifully for his older sister. She's almost always sound asleep within minutes. But sure enough, shortly after I leave the room I hear Preston calling out to me that he needs a snack or a drink or a hug or another trip to the potty. It can go on for hours, until I am just SO irritated that he won't just GO. TO. SLEEP!!!
I've ignored it (he's very persistent). I've given in and brought him what he wanted (I know, I know, but sometimes he just wears me down). I've shouted at him (more often than I want to admit). I've sent Daddy in to deal with him (that's bringing up the big guns and it's somewhat successful). None of it really works very well. But M&Ms... now that is something that has worked!
When the kids go to bed, I put 10 M&Ms in a ziploc baggie. For every time that he gets out of bed or calls us in or gets rowdy and noisy instead of settling down to sleep, I take away one M&M. Whatever M&Ms are left by the time he goes to sleep are his to eat in the morning after breakfast.
Wow! Suddenly just the threat of losing that M&M sends him scurrying quietly into bed again. The last several nights have been MUCH less stressful than usual! He's gone to sleep more quickly and with less bargaining and whining than we usually deal with. I'm loving the M&M bribery!