If you haven’t already done it, you’ve probably at least thought about it. And if your child isn’t old enough yet, then rest assured that you’ll do it or think about it in the future. That’s right—we’re talking about bribing your kids.
Some parents use money or treats or other “rewards” to bribe their children to do their chores, behave appropriately, get good grades, or eat their veggies. Many people call all of these instances “bribes,” but many others (including yours truly) would deem some of it more fitting for the label of “allowance” (particularly the chores—working for money is something that my kids learned early).
But is it okay to bribe your children? And, furthermore, does bribing actually work?
Well, we can confidently say that bribes do seem to work—at least in the short-term. Offer your child a toy to stop throwing a temper tantrum, and chances are that he’ll stop crying and will begin playing with his new toy. Offer your child a candy bar if she can stay quiet and behave properly while you grocery shop, and she’ll probably keep the noise to a minimum so that she can enjoy munching on some chocolate at the end of the excursion. Offer your child a monetary reward to get only A’s and B’s on his report card, and he’ll most likely work his butt off to get those good grades.
So, yes, the goal of the bribe will most likely be reached. But that doesn’t mean that bribing is necessarily a good thing all around, or in all cases. The biggest problem is that little Johnny may begin expecting a toy every time he has a temper tantrum. Little Sue might start to look forward to that candy bar at the end of every grocery store trip. Little Billy will probably start expecting a monetary reward every time he comes home with a good report card. In short, your kids will start to figure out that they should get their reward each and every time they’re put in the situation that warranted a bribe in the first place. This leads to your children controlling you, which (we can all agree) isn’t the way that things should be when it comes to the parent/child dynamic.
Here are some tips on how to “bribe” your child without it ending up biting you in the rear end after time:
- Instead of offering up rewards that have a price tag attached, offer rewards that have no monetary value—for example, the opportunity to stay up for an extra thirty minutes at night or a trip to the neighborhood pool or park.
- If you plan on offering your child money in return for good grades, go the extra mile and teach your child about financial responsibility by opening up a savings account for those monetary rewards.
- Avoid using the word “reward” or “treat” in these situations, and instead focus on the good behavior that will lead to that trip to the park or that later bedtime.
- Offer rewards for those things that warrant rewards, such as doing chores or getting good grades—not good behavior or simply showing up for family events or school.
What’s your opinion about bribing or rewards?
*Picture by CannedTuna