Saturday, May 5, 2012

Confessions of a mother: I bribe my kids

Well, it is not often you run into an article that talks about bribing kids! I thought that I would share it with you. Thanks to  Lesley S Smith a contributor for Yahoo.UK & Ireland for her article entitled Confessions of a mother. Hope that you enjoy it!

Having already touched on the issue of spoiling our children, I am well aware that making a case for using bribery to get good child behaviour is a topic that is uppermost in almost every parent's mind.
I am not ashamed to say that I am happy to use bribery for the greater good, and to get better behaviour wherever we go. With a special needs child to care for, who will never respond to being told to "behave," alternative methods had to be found to ensure he could fit in with society.
There's a vast difference between the children who get everything that they want, whenever they want, and the children of parents who use a little coaxing and blatant bribery to get their kids to do what they want.
Let's break down the "spoiled children" barrier to look at the bribery versus spoiling issue, and why I would say that planned bribery is good for our families.
It's a name thing
Bribery in context is absolutely no different to the methods that keep getting paraded in front of us to follow. Mixed in with "Positive Parenting," "Reward Charts," "Chores for Cash," and many more. All in all, they're exactly the same thing. The child does what you ask, and at the end of it all there is a reward.
The spoiled child
A spoiled child is more likely to be the whining, winging, fluttery eyed mini person that refuses to leave a store without the next "in" thing, and is determined to wear mum down to the point of frazzled hair, zero fingernails and a permanently fixed, but false grin and bear it smile.
The spoiled child may have every style of computer console going, with every game known to man available. They might have a cupboard full of expensive goodies that they have no respect for, and treat their parents as walking banks. They could scream the house, or shop down if they don't get what they want, as they know their parents will break at some point.
The bribed child
Bribery of children is ingrained in our society. Our teachers use this behaviour strategy for children by promising stars at the end of each day. They give out golden time if children do what they are asked to help and do the job well. Extra treats are often dished out for children who help others.
What does bribery teach our children?
We live in a trade bartering society. We barter for food using money, we trade babysitting chores with friends, and we do car shares with friends to avoid doing every single run. Our children watch us barter with our friends and family from the beginning. There's nothing new about parents bribing kids.
Watching activities like mum bake a cake to take to a play date teaches our children that what we do has a direct affect on how we are treated, and how we are seen by others. If we do something for someone else, they are likely to do something back for us.
Family bartering
Bribing for good behaviour, otherwise known as positive parenting, is just part of family bartering. When my children come home after working hard and gaining some recognition for good behaviour where they have been struggling, I treat them to something nice, but little. A small treat for doing the right thing never did anyone any harm.
I never promise things that I can't deliver on, as that totally undermines the whole point of getting a result. I keep bribes small, but meaningful. If I am going out anywhere that I need the boys to behave, I buy them chewing gum. I rarely let them have it, so when I do hand it over, it's a real treat to get.
Bribing all the time would be pointless. My kids would then see it as something to be expected every day, so I keep the bribery to a minimum and the bribes small. A packet of fruit pastilles may be the prize for cleaning their rooms and helping nicely with the shopping. I've met people who think that kids should do that sort of thing for nothing and be grateful they have a parent to feed them. Without any experience of bartering, how do our kids grow up and learn to respect the trade based world we live in?
Yes, my kids know that they can work with me to get something they want. I'm ok with that. If the kids want some sweeties, we sometimes sit down and work out what they can do as a trade off, and everybody is happy.

We hope that this this has given you some incite into how bribing your kids can be a positive expereince for all concerned. To see a range of our reward charts, check out our website at For coupons and free downloads go to our Facebook page at

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