Picky eaters, stubborn kids….you name it parents truly have the stories to share about their little ones. As we all venture down this parental journey, it’s important that we don’t loose sight on the “big picture.” It does not matter if you’re married, divorced, single parent or just the baby sitter sometimes we find ourselves in a pickle. The pickle I’m referring to is not the one we eat, it’s the situation between BARGAIN or BRIBE!
We all love our children, but at times when we’re rattled it’s hard to think clearly and we just “give in” to their unrealistic wants or needs. For many women it can be trips to the grocery store or the mall. Children just know how and when to push our buttons. It’s like this timer goes off inside their little bodies. “Ok, fine you can have candy only if you sit still in the shopping cart.” The universal question is should parents bribe children to behave? The first thing we need to realize it there is a very distinct line between bargain and bribe.
Here are a few examples of bribes…
- “Wow! You ate your broccoli! Now mommy will give you the new toy.”
- “I’ll let you have cake for dinner if you promise to brush your teeth twice and use mouth wash.”
- Mommy has a doctor’s appointment…“If you can sit quietly in the waiting room, I’ll get you McDonalds for lunch.”
- “If you get a good grade on your math test we will go get ice cream after school”
Now here’s how you can turn these bribes into bargains…
- “Wow! You ate your broccoli! Here’s a new pencil for school.”
- ‘Thanks you for being well behaved at the doctor’s office. I was thinking of having a “Mommy and Me” picnic lunch today when we get home.”
- “You finished all your homework early! Lets go for a bike ride.”
A bribe sets expectations to an unreasonable level and possible diversion of your routine. The negative part of bribery is that you don’t want your child to only focus on “what their going to get.” You don’t want your child to always think that they will be getting something tangible for good behavior. It’s all about them understanding that being good makes mommy and daddy very proud. Give your child a hug or a big smile after they do what you want.
A bargain expands on something you already do. Yes, a bribe is much easier because you give in to your child. However, it can take longer to transition your child to this type of new reality. Just be patient and stick with the bargain system. In just a few weeks your child will master one thing.