If you’re in business or politics, the last thing you want is to be associated with bribery and corruption.
But as a mom, I’m here to tell you that despite what the parenting experts tell you, a little bribery is not all that bad – at least, not when you’re dealing with a 3-year-old like my daughter, Kate.
Doling out bribes – maybe we should just call them rewards – is an art. Offered too often, at the wrong time or in jumbo sizes can give kids the wrong idea – and they’ll turn the tables on you and won’t do anything unless they’re given something in return. After all, kids will learn to depend on rewards in order to cooperate. So I’m careful not to get too carried away. But bribery (without the corruption, of course) is a daily part of my parenting toolbox.
At breakfast: “If you eat your cereal, I’ll give you some gummies.”
At the mall: “If you’re good while we’re shopping, we’ll stop at the play land before we go home.”
At bedtime: “If you brush your teeth, we’ll read a story.”
Right now, Kate hasn’t caught on to the fact that what I’m bribing her with isn’t all that special. The gummies in the morning? Well, those are actually gummy vitamins – something she’d get anyway. Letting Kate burn off some energy at the mall play land before we go home is my chance to relax for five or 10 minutes before heading home. And the bedtime story? I love reading him stories at bedtime. The fact that Kate will happily brush her teeth without much of a fight if I offer it to her is just a bonus.
Of course, there are definitely times I up the ante. I bought Kate a little necklace at Target the other day so she’d stop whining and sit in the cart long enough for me to get all my shopping done. I let her watch three episodes of “Sofia the First” so I could read a magazine in peace and quiet. Last Saturday, I groggily told her that she could eat a Nutty Bar for breakfast if she’d let me sleep for 30 minutes longer (and yes, it worked).
Does this make me a bad parent? Heck no. I’m sure the parenting experts will tell me I’ll traveling on a slippery slope. But you know what? Those parenting experts don’t live in my house. And kids, like anyone, tend to respond to bribery – or, if you prefer, rewards or incentives.
Now if someone wants to offer me a large sum of cash, diamonds or a new car, perhaps I’ll rethink my stance on bribing my daughter.