Does Bribery Work?
- Thursday, 10 May 2012
Does bribing your kids work?
Giving a child a choice empowers him/her unlike punishment, rewards, or bribes. The use of these methods belongs to the authoritarian system and the firm establishment of power. In a system of equals, a job gets done because it needs doing, and satisfaction comes from the harmony of two people doing a job together. In a system of rewards and praise, kids can easily get into the habit of doing work only when they get a payoff. An attitude develops of “what’s in it for me.” This is a dangerous cycle. It can create a kind of bribery in the household – a desire to be good because of the reward they will get. Children don’t need bribery to be good. They actually want to be good. Good behavior on the part of the child comes from her desire to belong, to contribute usefully, and to co-operate. When we bribe a child for good behavior, we are in effect showing him that we don’t trust him, which is a form of discouragement. Rewards are a sign of approval ‘in the moment’, but what about the next moment? In our sometimes mistaken efforts to win co-operation through rewards, we are actually denying our children the basic satisfaction of a job well done. This is not to say that we don’t treat a child for a job well done, but be cautious about attaching the treat to the work. Saying, “If you get the vacuuming done, then I will take you out for lunch” is very different from saying, “Now that the vacuuming is done, let’s go out for lunch. I’m hungry, aren’t you?”
There are some choices, decisions and responsibilities that parents keep for themselves, because some things are not negotiable. Parents need to decide whether or not the choice is age appropriate and is not life threatening, morally threatening, or unhealthy/unsafe. For example, for some parents, not going to worship on designated days is not an option. For others, attending a party where drinking is involved means not giving the kid the keys to the family car. Traffic on your street means that the child must play in a fenced yard. The bed time hour may be firmly established for 8:00 pm and not negotiable, but giving a child a choice if they want to brush their teeth or read a story first may be perfectly acceptable. Different parents will make different choices for themselves and their families.
When it comes to making decisions and choices here are some tips to help you help your child:
1. Begin by sitting down with your child.
2. Clearly define the problem.
3. Brainstorm and come up with as many solutions as possible
4. Look at the options and discuss the possible outcomes of each.
5. Decide with your child the best course of action.
6. Follow through to make sure the plan is carried out.
Terry Carson, M.Ed. is Naturally Savvy’s Certified Parenting Coach. For more information on Terry and her workshops, visit: www.TheParentingCoach.ca